By Lauren Glapa, Illustrations by Emma Meyler
I love this movement that encourages women to love their bodies. Embracing chubby thighs, stretch marks, or frizzy hair are all wonderful outpourings of self-love–let’s keep that up! Shooing off traditional, impossible, and patriarchal beauty standards has been long overdue. But I have some issues with this movement. Namely: who cares what the outside of my body looks like?
The outside of my body is a shell. I love my body. But that’s got nothing to do with what you see when you look me up and down. My body is so much more! And I’d like to re-write the self-love script.
The brain inside my skull is sharp and creative. It seems full of knowledge and memories but each day I manage to cram in even more! Sometimes it’s idealistic or rebellious, other times it’s pragmatic and resourceful. I’m proud of how much random trivia and useful knowhow I’ve accumulated so far.
The muscles under my skin are strong and flexible. They’ve hiked me across so many states and countries! They pedal my bike around my city and allow me to groove to the music at shows. Their movements are truly graceful! I can swim in a lake, and play a tricky passage on the piano, and walk myself all over this planet- and it’s all thanks to these muscles.
The heart in my chest is healthy and loving. It hasn’t stopped beating once in 23 years! To boot, my bleeding heart is so damned soft I can hardly say no to a plea for a buck or a ride or a kiss. At times, it feels brimming with affection and generosity. That leads some people to say my heart is naive or foolish, but I think it’s one of the best parts about me.
My voice is strong and powerful. I can use it to change the world for the better! Or I can sing songs around a campfire, or sing a lullaby to a baby. It can soothe someone who is upset or scream at a protest. Asking for help, saying “I love you,” whispering secrets, and talking back (a personal favorite!) are all made possible by my voice.
Does it sound like I’m gloating? Maybe I am. But I often feel the accepted expressions of self-love just affirm the status quo, like a selfie that proves that a beautiful-on-the-outside woman is, in fact, beautiful-on-the-outside. What’s revolutionary about that? Ladies– let’s take self-love beyond flattering clothes and cute eyeliner, styled hair and strategically-taken photos. Our bodies are beautiful because of the health and ideas and power they contain. They become even more beautiful when we use them to improve the world we live in. Let’s celebrate every single body as the healthy and powerful vessel that it is- and come to recognize what makes us all so truly beautiful.