beauty

Mia Freedman: "If my body is 'confronting' we've officially reached peak bonkers."

*WARNING: this post contains images deemed ‘confronting’. Please proceed with extreme caution so as not to be traumatised. You have been warned. Good luck.

It began innocently enough. Saturday morning, there I was sitting on the floor after my daily workout, which involves some time on the treadmill and then a short strength session with my Nike training app.

As I sat there, I looked down at my stomach, saw some rolls of skin or fat or, you know, humanity and felt… nothing. Like actually nothing. I didn’t feel insecure or panicked or ashamed or guilty or despairing as I have at many, many other times in my life (as recently as a couple of weeks ago) when comparing my body to the ‘ideal’ female shape  I see in the media and on social media.

I didn’t feel fat (note: fat is not a feeling, BTW). I just felt that nice kind of buzzy vibe you get after exercise and I felt pleased about the weekend ahead of me, which was going to involve lots of writing, hanging at home and having some friends over for a BBQ.

I could hear my kids elsewhere in the house, fighting or singing or doing their normal weekend thing. I could smell coffee. My dogs were running in and out of the room. I felt happy.

I took this photo and posted it to Instagram without thinking much more about it because I wanted to capture that feeling and remind myself of the pleasures of exercise and the realistic expectations I have about my body at age 45.  I wanted to remind other women what one type of ‘normal’ stomach looks like in the hope that they might look down and feel good or at least normal instead of the ‘abnormal’ way we are made to feel about our bodies so much of the time.

So, this:

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*NOTE: I did not use the hashtag #brave because please. It’s just a body. Not brave. Just a body.

Why did I do it? Because I want to walk my diversity talk, even when it doesn’t show me at my best.  Especially when it doesn’t show me at my best. That’s the point.

Does the world need another selfie of someone with ripped abs after a workout? It does not. But what I think it does need is more variation in the body shapes and sizes coming through our social feeds.

Because currently, it’s starting to feel like social media is taking the place of women’s magazines in only featuring a certain type of female body deemed worthy: thin, hard and without any of the lumps, bumps, stretch marks or wobbly bits 99% of women have.

So if only 1% of women have a hard, thin body, how come 99% of the bodies I see in on social media look like that? That’s some messed up maths right there and it’s making women feel like shit.

Not to diss the women with the ripped abs. Go your hardest. Snap and share away.

There is no one type of body that’s better than another one. I just want to see more bodies. More women. More diversity. If mainstream media refuses to give it to us and wonderful renegades like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer are forced to keep swimming against the tide of pop culture size zero, we need to help them change the visuals of this conversation ourselves.

So I posted my rolls. Forgot about it. Got on with my life because  – and this might shock you – I am more than my body. I know, this is a radical thought.

Then earlier today, someone texts me a screen grab of the Daily Mail’s homepage, upon which I see this:

“Confronting”. That is the actual best. I am a white, privileged, size 8-10, 45-year-old mother of three who has some stomach rolls when she sits down and my body is CONFRONTING.

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What about women who are bigger than me? Disabled women? Women of colour? Women who have more hair than me? Or stretch marks? Or scars? What does this say about their bodies?

I asked my husband if he was confronted by my stomach. “As often as possible, please,” he said. I love him.

 Another friend texted me:

The crisis in Syria, the prospect of Trump as president, your stomach - CONFRONTING xxxx

Oh how my confronting stomach wobbled as I laughed at that. My children fled the room and so did the dogs. They were confronted.

We really have reached peak bonkers when a woman's body is considered 'confronting'.

Are our human forms really so distasteful? Has media and social media really become so removed from what women’s bodies actually look like?

I took a look at what else was on the Daily Mail homepage and saw a couple of other stories about women who had taken selfies:

Ah. I see. This ties in with exactly how I've been feeling lately.

I was on holidays by the beach a couple of weeks ago and found myself feeling a bit self-conscious about putting on a bikini. You see, everywhere I look (see above images), I’m told my body is a ‘before’ shot because it is not hard or ripped or size zero.

This is batshit crazy because firstly, who decided women’s bodies should be hard? Who determined this to be the gold standard by which adult women should be measuring ourselves?

I just turned 45. I’ve grown three kids in this body. I exercise every day. I am a healthy weight. In the past months I’ve bought clothes ranging from size 6 (Gorman) to size 14 (Billabong) and everything in between.

So perhaps the Daily Mail is not the only one that finds women’s bodies ‘confronting’. The fashion industry seems to be a little confronted - and confused -  too.

Dear Media, I don't think you're ready for this jelly but I don't care. Here it is anyway. Avert your eyes.

ABOVE: you can see a bit of my daughter in this photo and the arrow helpfully points to WHERE SHE GREW FROM A FEW CELLS INTO A HUMAN PERSON.

WARNING: THE IMAGES BELOW ARE CONFRONTING. SCROLL WITH CAUTION.

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