Happy Sunday, folks! This week I read about body- and self-love: how to cultivate it in our cherished children, how we are taught not to love ourselves, and how radical it can be to claim that fundamental right to love yourself just as you are in this very moment.
First up is this stunning piece about a father teaching his young daughter how to love her body for the things it can DO rather than what it can look like:
A few months ago I wrote about the degree to which girls are praised for their looks, and how infrequently we ask them questions that relate to their interests or hobbies (or directly engage their intellectual curiosity), so when I heard Tim (who is the kind of father that would rather encourage Eleanor’s love of books, or bugs, than eye shadow or handbags) tell Eleanor that she had a beautiful body I wondered where he was going with it.
Next, the contradictory messages men and women receive on what our bodies should look like and what bodies are worthy. The piece also astutely points out how cis-centric and transphobic these messages are:
The emphasis is on maintaining a false, fetishized physical dichotomy; the flip side is how the reversed “goals” (weight loss for men without muscle gain, 15-lbs of muscle-building for women) are met with backlash that is ultimately transphobic in nature. A woman body builder–or even just a normal woman with a lot of muscle definition–is “too manly” and her body is “gross” because it’s no longer the “feminine” cultural ideal of being meek and soft. A woman who can fight back is a threat.
This excellent and heartbreaking and defiant piece talks about the power of the selfie to let those bodies who aren’t normally celebrated in this culture be loved and celebrated and seen:
I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken. My friend who asked, truthfully had very little right to judge; everyone takes pictures of him, with him, and for him. The same is true of almost all my friends. I live in a world where I didn’t hear someone romantically call me beautiful and desirable till I was 26. I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click; I upload it to instagram, and I hold my breath because the world is cruel and I am what some would call ugly, but I don’t see it. At first I clicked so I could see what others saw, but I don’t. So now I click and post and breathe, waiting for others to see what I see: beautiful dark skin, Afrika’s son, a dream un-deferred, pretty eyes,and nice lips, and a nose that fits my face.
And finally, this stunning poem: ism, by nayyirah waheed:
‘i love myself.’
Let’s love ourselves just a little bit more this week.