I am a naturally voluptuous woman. Thin, but voluptuous. My fat cells are in all the places that you’d want them to be. My mother tells me (though not in so many words) that I essentially came out of the womb with a donk. Though many women would give almost anything to naturally be built the way that I am, this genetic inheritance does not automatically shield me from body issues. In fact, I’m willing to argue that being born with this “ideal” body type can be just as tough as being born with one that is maybe not quite as desirable. Now before you roll your eyes and write me off, just hear me out.
Imagine that you are extremely naturally-talented, amateur pianist. Without ever having had any sort of formal lessons, you can easily play pieces of popular songs by ear. You work hard to hone your talent and improve your weaknesses. You do your best to be modest about your talent, but occasionally you find it satisfying to post a video on Facebook of an arrangement that you wrote of a new Lorde song. You’re not boastful, you don’t cyber-scream, “HEY CHECK OUT MY COOL VIDEO AND COMPLIMENT ME ON IT!!”, you don’t even give the video a title. You just post it on your feed with a little smiley face emoji and hope that someone will genuinely appreciate it.
However, rather than sensing appreciation of your work from your fellow pianist friends, you sense jealousy and negativity in the form of scrutiny, backhanded compliments, and other general remarks that leave you feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and just generally like a total pretentious show-off. You take the video down, beating up on yourself for having seemed so self-absorbed, and go about the rest of your day wishing you could just share what you’re proud of without being judged.
This is what it’s like when women with nice physiques, whether inherited through genetics or earned through hard work in the gym, try to modestly yet unashamedly share the bodies that they are so proud of with the world. Unfortunately, we live in a society where an enormous amount of pressure is placed on women to have trim yet curvy bodies, and thusly when a woman does possess one of these “perfect” shapes, naturally other women will feel jealous. Rather than envy in silence and support fellow females through gritted teeth, often times we choose to shame and judge these women, our fellow females, labelling them as slutty or ridiculous or whatever other terms you’ve heard used in reference to a voluptuous female in a tight dress.
As a naturally voluptuous woman who is also a self-professed gym rat, I know what it’s like to be shamed for having a nice body. I recently spent the evening at a club in Atlantic City, and, as is expected, wore a sexy club dress that displayed my small waist (earned in the gym) and ample cleavage (inherited through genetics). The dress was otherwise fairly modest, cut high on the back and lower on the thigh, with no cut-outs or anything on the side, in a classic navy blue color. I felt sexy and classy in the room, but as soon as I stepped onto the casino floor, I immediately felt scrutinized. Women young and old shot me dirty looks from across the floor. I ended up holding my phone in front of my chest all night, to hide what I consider one of my best assets. My dress was not overly revealing. It was standard, common clubwear like all women my age (early 20’s) wear to the club. However, I felt ashamed all night of my body that I love so much, that is both inherited and earned.
After thinking about this phenomenon of being shamed, I am left with a few questions: Should we hide the gifts we were naturally given, even though they may make others jealous? No. Should we apologize for them? Absolutely not.
This jealousy that we refuse to overcome tears us down even more as women and takes us yet further away from confidence and total peace within ourselves. The way we treat each other currently makes it impossible to win the body-image game in any way; overweight or less voluptuous women are shamed because they don’t look great in a bandage dress; thin and curvy women are shamed because they do. The word that keeps coming up on this subject, regardless of shape, is shame. We have got to stop shaming each other one way or the other! We have to celebrate each other’s bodies and all that they do. No one should be shamed for sharing something they love or simply possessing something that they don’t.
Ladies; I am not here to condescend, to preach, or to shame. I am not here to play the victim. I am here to provide some perspective. I would be lying if I said that I have never judged another woman based on her appearance. In this society, where we women are bombarded with images of how we “need” to look, it’s nearly impossible not to succumb to the propaganda and strive to look like that girl on the cover of Vogue.
The bottom line here, like in so many other articles, is simply acceptance, love, and support for our fellow women of all shapes and sizes. We are strong, we are smart, we are beautiful. Shouldn’t we be able to overcome the jealousy or superiority that we feel after having been brainwashed by society, and replace it with love? I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but, as they say in AA, “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Let’s recover from this disease of jealousy and judgement. Let’s acknowledge it, and let’s be better to each other and make each other feel beautiful. Because if women don’t support women, who will?