On Variety

Many of the messages we receive about bodies have to do with conforming. The current standards for physical female beauty are narrow and exclusionary, yet we are pressured to deprive, manipulate, and punish our bodies into fitting those narrow, exclusionary standards. We are told, “Be the same, or be wrong.” We are told, “Look this way, or be lesser-than.” We are told, “There’s no room for variation here, so do everything in your power to conform.”

But no two human beings are alike. Even identical twins, who have the same genes down to the last, have distinct personalities, needs, voices, desires, and ambitions … and frequently metabolize, tan, and take hair color differently from one another. That “unique snowflake” cliche exists for a reason: We’re all marvelously individual. And that marvelous individuality is what makes human life interesting.

If everyone had the exact same figure, it might diminish some of the body snarking. It might eradicate much of the world’s jealousy. It might help with the rampant plague of negative body image that has so many women suffering and anxious in the present day. But my guess is that if everyone had the exact same figure, we’d be busting our butts to force our figures to stand out, look different, be distinctive. We’d be falling all over ourselves to create the diversity that exists naturally today.

Someday, I hope we can learn to accept and celebrate that diversity. Laugh when we’re told we must conform to completely arbitrary ideals of physical beauty. See our uniqueness as something that helps defines us, and acknowledge the simple brilliance of it. Be different from one another, and love our differences with big, open hearts.

Image via Get Your Mind Right

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  • So very well said Sally! I truly hope we reach a point some day where we love our bodies for their uniqueness! I for one am happy to have a body like no other :-).

  • Great post, Sally!

  • Thank you so much, Sally. As the mother of a teenage girl, I appreciate this deeply. The artwork you chose for this post is powerful, too.

  • Excellent post, and artwork, Sal.

  • “my guess is that if everyone had the exact same figure, we’d be busting our butts to force our figures to stand out, look different, be distinctive. We’d be falling all over ourselves to create the diversity that exists naturally today.”

    So true, so obvious, so why don’t we realise this?

  • Variety is the spice of life.

    Love this post.

  • Frenchie

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I have struggled with body image for as long as I can remember (I’m 47). My mom would embarrass me in front of others by making comments about my weight, she put me in a girdle when I was 13, and deprived me of desserts while my thinner brother got mine. I’m not huge (a size 10/12) but I struggle constantly with “how I look”. It drives my (ever-patient, darling) husband crazy. A love of fashion has allowed me to “blossom” a bit by giving me confidence in what I wear daily. I live in leggings and above-the-knee a-line dresses (showing my dislike for my thighs). Thank you again for such a meaningful post.

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  • Bubu

    Oh my gosh, immediately thought of you and this post when I saw this YouTube clip (posted by a friend on Facebook). Watch it and weep: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_vVUIYOmJM&sns=fb

    • Sal

      Haha! Bubu, you’re the fourth person to send this to me THIS HOUR. Love it.

  • Great post, Sally! Love this!

  • Woaw Sally, that is what I was thinking yesterday evening while I was trying a swimming suit, looking my hips I thought “they are different compared to the hips of the models on catalogs, but who said mine are wrong? why are they wrong?” then I laugh and blame the beauty industry…but deep inside I knew how deeply this hurt me, as I am a 32 year old woman afraid of showing her body in a bikini and I am 5’6 150 size 12, never consider myself fat, however, they have manage themselves to weaken my self-esteem every day for years. Because that’s what they do, they bring you down in order to sell you a product that will bring you up, funny, isn’t? ‘she is soooo beautiful … but her teeth could be whiter or her skin smoother or her hair shiny etc. Damn now i am determine, I will find a nice bikini, and I will become my own model… ‘the no model-model’

  • Thank you so much for this article, it really has made me feel a lot better and it’s such an important message. Does anyone know if that artwork is from Banksy?

    • Sal

      I couldn’t find attribution for the life of me, but it sure LOOKS like Banky’s work.

  • DWilliams

    Love the first paragraph!

  • Katie

    Sal – have I ever told you how awesome you are? Well if not – here it is: YOU’RE AWESOME! 🙂

  • kat

    For some reason today, this brought to mind Dr. Seuss’ star belly sneeches story. Anyone else remember that one? Yay for Dr. Seuss for being the voice of body acceptance for the kiddie-set!

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