Last week a few of my Instagram posts went viral.
Now, this is not the first time I’ve posted about my cellulite on the internet. Even when I was super lean and fitness modeling, I had a lace-like pattern of dimples along the backs of my thighs. You can’t always see it, but with the right pose and lighting it’s like ka-pow!
Recently in the gym I had one of those moments.
I was sitting on the mats in between sets of plank, and I saw the back of my thigh all dimpled up. So I did what any woman does (right??) and snapped a few shots to post on the internet!
Ok but really. In my social media post, I mentioned that I call my cellulite “fancy fat” because I think it actually looks really pretty and cute. The point of the post was that it’s possible to notice fancy fat without being embarrassed, ashamed, or self-critical.
This kind of post is important to me, since the only conversations in our current social climate about cellulite is about how to get rid of it.
The message of how to get rid of cellulite is blasted at us from spa treatments to skin creams to lasers to massage therapy. We read about how to “sculpt” it away with the right workouts, and how to “detox” it away with the right smoothies.
Now let me be really clear here: cellulite is natural, and normal, and healthy. The only cure for cellulite, for most women, is photoshop.
However, the only images most of us see of naked female bodies tends to be genetically homogenous women who have been well-lit, purposefully posed, and run through heavy photoshop. Which means that we rarely actually see any cellulite, except in the damn mirror.
This fact is made worse by the fact that so many women feel undeserving to wear certain clothes or reveal certain body parts, because they’re not “perfect” enough.
In this way, we are less and less often exposed to real, normal, healthy female bodies.
Fat women are expected to cover up, and anyone with cellulite is expected to opt for leggings rather than shorts. We hide ourselves because we think we don’t deserve to be seen, and everyone suffers.
Think about it.
The only breasts we ever see in their naked form have been surgically altered, or belong to actresses with stereotypically “perfect” breasts to begin with. Not to mention the fact that most are covered in makeup, and then heavily photoshopped.
Most women in the real world wear bras that “contour,” “lift,” and “separate,” if not fully get pushed up to our necks with an extra cup size (or two) of solidly dense and perfectly round foam.
Because all the real breasts are hidden, and the fake/perfect/edited breasts are everywhere, we women walk around thinking that there is something terribly wrong with our own breasts, because they’re not as firm, perky, dense, big, round, or symmetrical as “everyone else’s.”
This is true for every part of the female body that we can keep hidden.
We only see the naked bellies of women who feel like they “deserve” to wear bikinis or crop tops because they fit the size and shape “standard” that we see in marketing images. Plus, you better believe most of those women are sucking their bellies in anyway, so that even their bodies don’t look like their bodies.
Perhaps the worst of it is the genitals. Since non-sexual nudity doesn’t really exist in our culture, the only vulvas we see are the perfectly symmetrical, dainty, bald, and often surgically enhanced vulvas of porn. Is it any wonder so many (cis, straight) women feel like there’s something wrong or ugly about their own perfectly normal and beautiful vulvas??
(PS Don’t even get me started on how damaging modern porn is for body image and women’s ability to have good sex. All we see is hairless bleached genitals, women are divided up into categories based on notable physical features, and absolutely everything is geared toward male pleasure, where the woman’s main job is just to be grateful for the big dick he bestows upon her. UGH.)
Ok I’m getting sidetracked, but my point is this:
I posted about my cellulite because I think it’s important that we normalize real bodies.
I got tons of comments and messages from women who told me they thought I was “brave” to post those photos, and that they could never have done something so scary.
Which is heart-breaking.
It has become so utterly unacceptable to have a normal human female body, that the thought of other people seeing our normalness or humanness is mortifying.
I know this isn’t anything new. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have posted a photo like that, either.
But as article after article was written about my post (and my clapback at the troll who tried to tell me my cellulite is unnatural and unhealthy) it kept ringing in my head that we are a culture in desperate need of more exposure to real bodies.
More non-sexual nudity.
I’m not just talking about “owning our flaws,” here, either. Because my cellulite is not a fucking FLAW.
Neither is my belly being round and soft instead of flat and flexed. In fact, none of any part of the human body is a fucking flaw.
It’s all perfect, and when seen through the right lens, it’s all beautiful. (Hint: that lens does not include our mainstream beauty standards.)
Ok I guess I’ll end my rant here, with a call to stop hiding the humanness of your body.
What would happen if you let the world see your belly be soft and round?
If you stopped trying to hide your dimples and rolls?
What if we all agreed to stop calling our humanness a “flaw,” or buying into the idea that we must somehow try to fix it?.
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