The Concerned Optimist: Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Bodies in Media

“How to Look Fab Next to the Ocean!” “Six Pack in Six Hours! Click the link in bio to see how.” “Lizzo Lashes Out At Fans Who Call Her Fat.” 

These headlines are blatant and eye-catching, eager for you to click in order for them to attain ad dollars. The headlines, glossed on tabloids, online posts and online videos, want you to believe that you have to achieve the impossible to be your best self. Also, if you do not look like the standard then people will lash out at you. 

Rejecting “Summer Beach Body” 

The term “summer beach body” begins to circulate around March. This is the idea that, in months, you need to do all of the cleanses, sit-ups, and retreats to look great next to the ocean or the pool. This is capitalism at its finest–enticing you to pay to look great. 

During the holiday season, socializing comes with food, just to turn around for the New Year and make these nonsensical dietary restrictions. The timelines call for us to celebrate just to be exhausted in the gym afterwards? Nah, enjoy your life!

There is a push against the “summer beach body.” Enjoy the ice cream cone. Luxuriate in the sun, with sunscreen on. Hug your body in that beautiful color. Rebuke the trends and make your presence known. 

Bodies in Hollywood – Progress?

Hollywood is a culprit of how beauty is seen. Disrupting those standards have become paramount for the entertainment industry. To stay relevant, which is also keyword for making money, Hollywood has decided entertain different body types to save face. That should not be a charity case. Hollywood has to fund stories that show the breaths and complexities of audiences. 

Survival of the Thickest is a comedy-drama series based on Michelle Buteau’s book by the same name. In the series she plays Mavis, who is described as a plus-sized Black woman rebuilding her life as a struggling stylist. She has sex, which for many is thought of as improbable for plus-sized people. Her presence is vivacious. Buteau will show you how to love yourself with humor and grace. 

In the season 2 premiere of And Just Like That, a number of characters show their bodies. It’s an emblem of age and a rebuke that older people need to hide once they are past 35 years old. 

Barbie, the film based on the beloved doll of the same name, also seeks to share multiple body types, as the doll was widely maligned for a thin, perky body type. That one body type is not the mold. Profit and relevancy is not the gain either. The doll evolving focuses on the conversations today about representation and inclusivity as one of the most premier dolls over generations. 

Optimism on Bodies 

My optimism is that one day we will not talk about our bodies. We are fed well. It’s not up to one person for you to know how to love your body. We have vast representations of self that fulfill our curiosity.

There are no headlines dissecting someone’s body. I’m looking at you, Daily Mail aka Daily Fail. We all can witness people thrive in their bodies, online or offline. Accessibility is prioritized instead of monetized. We respect how people want to be addressed. There is a learning curve about not just being right but being inclusive. Not every body type wants to be grouped in the same way. 

There is no such thing as getting back to a pre-baby body for vanity reasons. Your body is strong to care for yourself and your family. Trans people are not put under petrie dishes for shame. They are not hunted and dissected for ridicule.

Children will not be shamed for their growing bodies, especially girls growing breasts. Children are protected from perverts and shame instead of being told to cover up their body. Children learn how to communicate their needs. They also do not shame each other. 

Men are not eviscerated for not having a six pack. They are comfortable in their bodies and do not have to be a dad to have a soft body.

Not every body is going to be seen. Diversity is not check boxes to fulfill criteria. If your story is not seeing people in their fullness, do not have them.

Media plays a role in how we communicate with each other, particularly through blasting headlines and pushing hateful online rhetoric. Kindness and respect are also not the only pillars for communication. Being impactful and intentional when learning about people propels a better society. Create learning spaces and using your knowledge creates optimism into action. 

Ashley Paul is a traveler, runner, and baker. She is an Everlasting Bookworm and Culture Maven. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. She loves stories with social commentary, atmospheric writing, and compelling characters.

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