We’ve all seen it – the fat girl in her bikini on the beach, the new mom showing off her postpartum body with the fresh stretchmarks, and the curvy girl “daring” to wear a crop top that shows off her chubby tummy. More often than not our first thoughts are “she’s brave” but I want to discuss why this is not the praise we should be thinking or giving.
Obviously one of the big reasons that we see showing off our bumpy bodies as bravery is because the concept of accepting and appreciating diverse bodies is still pretty new to us, even though the fat acceptance and body positive movements have been around for a while, it’s still not as normal to see a fat woman on a magazine cover as it is to see an average or thin woman on a cover.
But does saying that someone is brave for showing off their body imply that they are doing something that shouldn’t be done? Are they doing something that should be feared? Are we still so close minded to assume that it took courage to walk around not covering up their bigger body?
Would we go out of our way to tell a lingerie model that she’s brave because she shows her body on magazine covers and on store displays?
I know that when we think or say someone is brave for showing off their body (that isn’t society’s idea of a good body) that the intention is good, it is a form of acknowledgement and appreciation but maybe we should think more about this, because they aren’t brave, sure you might see them as some sort of hero because they are helping you find body acceptance, but they just have a body, like all of us do, they are just being themselves and living their lives.
Think of what you would consider really brave.
Is it a policeman who risks his own life to protect others?
Is it the soldiers who fight for their countries?
Is it jumping in front of a bus to save someone else?
These are genuine acts of bravery and bravery does come in all shapes and forms but can we really say that me going to the beach this summer in a costume and no cover up is brave?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with appreciating the men and women who are fighting against body shaming and who are making us feel like we belong and that we are not aliens because of the size of our body or the number of stretchmarks we have – they should be appreciated, they are doing amazing things, and we definitely need to tell them that, but perhaps we need to dig a little deeper and give them the praise they deserve, which in my opinion is not to be told that they are brave for simply existing on their own terms.
I know that it can take courage to post a picture that shows off a bit of cellulite and I know that it could take courage to walk on the beach with no sort of cover up BUT it shouldn’t be taking courage. We should be able to do this and not feel like it’s wrong.
And we shouldn’t be assuming that it takes courage for EVERYONE because some people are really happy with themselves and its natural for them to do these things so by saying they are brave isn’t praise, it could actually be offensive to them because it could be interpreted as saying they are doing something risky, something that should be feared, but our bodies should not be feared and we should not making anyone feel like they have to fear their body.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that someone is brave for rocking their body?