The feminist hysteria over weight and body image is disingenuous. Although feminists didn’t make women more weight conscious, they did change the way women view and value their bodies. The whole modern feminist movement implied women had to be skinny: after all, the words “mystique” and “fat” aren’t really compatible. Feminists criticize the tall, thin figures that grace magazine covers for setting an unrealistic standard, when decades ago they praised these images for symbolizing a new freedom for women who have shed off the feminine pounds of domesticity and fertility. Feminists created a preoccupation with fat, diet, and slenderness when they introduced concepts such as economic autonomy, procreative liberty, and casual sex. According to feminists, being voluptuous meant being fertile, which meant being reproductive, which meant being oppressed. Women were told that the attractiveness of their bodies was a source of empowerment and upward mobility. Breasts were no longer considered for the purpose of feeding babies, but attracting male attention. Sex appeal wasn’t for reproduction, but for attaining power in the world. This view of women’s bodies breeds dissatisfaction because it is dehumanizing.
Let’s not rely on magazines and feminists to tell us how we should look. The body isn’t something we should separate from ourselves to disown, discredit, or to compare with others. I don’t look at the cover of Vogue and think to myself, “Wow, this is a standard I have to meet.“ I’m 5’2” tall, baby-faced, and thin. I love what my body was made for and that its design is purposeful. I remember really feeling this affirmation and sense of purpose when I held a child. How sweet it was to hold a child and have her fit in the pronounced curve above my waist, settling on my hip so perfectly, her chubby little hands resting on my chest, her heartbeat beating into mine, her warm little body like a glow settling onto me. The integrity of a body lies not only in itself, but also in its relation to other bodies, whether it be that of a child, a friend, a lover. I view my body as a body I am meant to live in, to love with, to nurture from, to provide for, to take care of, to respect, and to discipline. The value of our bodies doesn’t depend on who looks at us. The value of our bodies depends on what we do with them. A woman’s body, in whole and in part, is rich with purpose, meaning, and destiny. Do not be afraid to admit and embrace the idea that our bodies are powerful marks of our procreativity, our individuality, and our humanity.