Vintage Beach Huts on Flickr
We all need to be on beaches more. And not because of the sand and the surf and the warmth and the sun, oh the sun, how long has it been since I’ve seen the SUN?!… ahem. Sorry. I digress.
We need to be on beaches more because it’s one of the only chances we get to see real bodies. Bodies not hidden by clothing or sucked into Spanx, not photoshopped or airbrushed or scrupulously maintained with 8 hour daily workouts.
I stumbled across the Real Girl Belly Project last night and I fell in love with it. 75 women took pictures of their bellies- and all of the accompanying stretch marks and piercings and hair and rolls- and posted them online.
Why is this important? Because you go on Pintrest, or Tumblr, and search the tag “Thinspiration” (thin-inspiration) and you see the same twenty or so photos of women with perfect flat-bellies and six-pack ab photos being reblogged and repinned by every teenage girl with body image issues out there, and the truth is that 99% of those girls will never look like that.
And that’s ok! Neither will I!
It’s important because every so often I come across rants that try, in a very well intentioned way, to counteract those impossible aspirations and distorted body images with slogans like, “REAL women have curves!”.
Real women have curves, and real women are skinny. Real women have big breasts and real women have small breasts. Real women have rolls and real women have ribs riding visibly under the skin. There is no one ideal “Real Woman”, not Kate Moss nor Beth Ditto.
And it’s important because we often overlook the boys, but I work with the boys. Teenage boys. And they feel it too, the pressure to be ripped and muscular and be big, BIG! BIGGER! and we have a question box in the bathroom where the kids can submit questions and I’d say 75% of them are from teenaged boys worried about their penises.
“Why is my penis so small?” “How big is a normal penis?” “Why does my penis look so weird?”
For many teenaged boys, the ones not involved in sports with locker rooms and showers, the only penises that they see are in porn, and not because they’re all porn-addicts but mostly because the only easily accessible images of penises are in porn.
And I’d hazard a guess that these boys don’t have tiny penises, but compared to Ron Jeremy it looks like they do.
I don’t see the emergence of a “Real Boy Penis Project” any time soon because, well, obviously. But I think you get my point.
What’s my point? Oh, well, simply that the Belly Project is quite fabulous.
Personally, I like my belly. I’ve never had six pack abs and have no desire to. I have a skinny body with knobby knees and sharp elbows and pointy shoulderblades, my belly is a soft place, a respite from the bony protuberances elsewhere.
The Real Girl Belly Project can be found here, at XoJane.