When I say “average body” I don’t actually mean “median of the collective,” though I understand that’s what the word “average” implies. I don’t know what the actual average body looks like. I’ve read that it’s one particular size, then another. What I mean by average in this context is: not categorically defined. Not “thin,” not “overweight.” Not “plus size” not “small.” In the middle of the definitions. Uncategorized.
In many ways, it seems having an average body is the gravest offense. It’s not rallied over, pitted against anything else. Movements and hashtags aren’t started in it’s defense, it’s not celebrated nor is it condemned. It’s just there. It’s not a political statement, so it’s often rendered nothing at all.
And because there’s no place for it, it almost becomes impossible for people of “average” statures to actually identify that they have average statures. They buoy between extremes, mostly preoccupied with trying to figure out at what point you amass enough molecules to go from having “fat” to being “fat.” They play a daily roulette with the point at which they tip the metaphorical scale into being physically “unacceptable.”
They feel their mental self-concept is constantly at the whim of the company they keep: to some, they’re average but to others they aren’t and to themselves? They’re nothing. They’re only defined by what they don’t fit into.
Though labeling bodies is a dangerous game to begin with – and I’ll get to that in a minute – there are a thousand ways we could identify a “body type” if so we choose: fit or chubby or cute or slender or large or petite or proportionate or not. We’re faster to find comfort in one of these things than we are to say we’re “normal,” yet, we can only accept that we are one of these things if we’ve already been taught that it’s desirable. It’s why you see average bodied people, more than anyone else, running around complaining about being too much or too little or not enough. Convincing themselves they are or aren’t one thing or another. They don’t know what normal, healthy, average looks like, and even if they did, they wouldn’t want to be it.
Because what do we, as a society, associate with “normal?” “Average?” Not the median. Not the middle-ground. But below average. Unexceptional.
So until we can magically convince ourselves, by fitting into a certain jean size, or getting to a certain weight, or fielding enough reinforcing compliments, that we fall into either the “fat” or “thin” category… we remain in a state of perpetual self-scrutiny.
Fat is not a thing you are. It is a thing you have. And having too much or too little of it is not – with the exception of rare, extreme cases – a factor in whether or not you’ll be able to actually, you know, live your life. Thin is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you appear to be. And appearing this way more one day than another, more one year than the next – with the exception of rare, extreme cases – doesn’t make you any more capable of experiencing happiness that’s not contingent on a physical prerequisite of acceptability. Normal is not a thing you are. It’s a thing someone else will define you as when they have nowhere else to place you. That doesn’t mean you’re unexceptional or not beautiful or a perpetual work-in-progress. Society just hasn’t caught up yet. And that’s because neither have we.
You do not have to accept yourself only when you decide you’re “a curvy woman” or “tastefully thin.” You do not have to slide yourself into one of these home bases to be okay with yourself. You don’t need a movement. You don’t need a definition. You don’t need a category or a place. At the end of the day, you’re still the one who ultimately has to rise and decide: I matter more than my body. I am more matter than my body. There is more matter to me than just the bones and blood and skin and particles that have temporarily compiled to house me.
The privilege of not having a place on society’s scale is realizing you don’t need one. You need not define your acceptance within the context of someone else’s. You need not believe that your averageness indicates your unworthiness to be apart of something “desirable.” You don’t have to keep seeking proof of being accepted into a body-tribe. There is no average or normal. There is a statistic median, yes, but as far as your own self-image goes, it’s just the compilation of all the bodies you’ve seen and known. You do not exist in proportion to other people, only to the ideas of them you hold in your mind.