If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that we are in the midst of a slow march toward full body positivity. Unfortunately, stringent and crushing messages about body image still persist. Recently the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was almost completely overshadowed by the comments of Ed Razek, the chief marketing executive of L Brands.
If his initial statements regarding plus-size models were to believed, a “fantasy” woman has to fit within a certain height, weight, and body type. So what’s a regular, non-supermodel woman whose body may have changed after pregnancy and childbirth to do? Can we be sexy with our stretch marks? Can we be the subjects of fantasy even after our breasts have deflated from nursing?
“Of course we can!” you say as you thrust your cup of coffee into the air. (And then mop up your spilled coffee from your desk.) The negative feedback toward Victoria’s Secret was swift and severe, after all. In reality though, when you’re by yourself in the mirror, do you still sometimes wish you were a little more…airbrushed? It happens to the best of us, but truthfully, what makes a woman sexy has more to do with what’s going on inside her head than what is visible to the naked eye. With a little mental shift, you can totally strut with your “tiger stripes” and all, and put Gigi Hadid on notice.
Celebrate every part of being a woman.
Instead of seeing tokens of womanhood as things to be hidden or tolerated, why not celebrate them? Who decided stretch marks weren’t sexy? None of us as grown women actually want to look pre-pubescent, which means that we do accept-and even revere-markers of physical development. Stretch marks are really no different from filled-out hips (especially considering that filling out hips can often cause stretch marks). Yes, your skin stretched; that’s a sign that your body did what it was designed to do. Rather than looking for a bathing suit that effectively hides those stretch marks, what if you sought out a suit that makes them the star of the show?
Let your inner cover girl out.
Who hasn’t run her fingers through her hair or struck a pose in the mirror, pretending to be in her own private photo shoot? There is no reason not to carry that same energy out into the world. Holding your head high and maintaining a powerful posture can infuse your thoughts with confidence and make you walk as if you carry all of the secrets of the universe. If it’s within your budget, you might even want to set up a boudoir photo shoot (preferably with a photographer who doesn’t rely on digital enhancements). Whenever you start to feel like anything less than a vixen, you can pull out those pictures and remind yourself just how hot you actually are.
Expose yourself to diverse images of women.
There is a steady supply of positive images of digitally enhanced hourglass figures. We are groomed from a young age to see only certain body types as desirable, because often only those body types get the VIP treatment in the darkroom. When I started following body positive and plus-size lingerie companies on social media, I learned that when photographers find the best angles for every body, the results are astounding. When you can actually see your own body represented as sultry and worthy of selling lingerie, it changes your self-perception so that “flaws” become “assets”.