super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Beach bodies and other reasons society sucks

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(image credit: dances with fat)

Ah, Spring. It hits the northern hemisphere around this time every year, plus or minus a snowstorm or two. Warmer weather, blooming flowers, longer days, and a whole load of bullshit inundating the internet.

Unfortunately it’s getting colder where I live, which means less time spent outside and more time getting outraged in front of a computer, as the internet throws at me articles about getting ready for “bikini season” and other infuriating crap.

It’s getting exhausting, you know. Every year feels like a lost battle. The same magazines that spend the rest of the year trying to “empower” you are the same ones that vomit out the “tips to get in shape for summer”.

I’m fortunate to live in a country where, somehow, this feels like less of an issue, to a point where I sometimes wish people would care a little more about their appearance (seriously, you guys, would it hurt to change from your pyjamas before going to the supermarket?). Still, like everywhere else, there are issues.

Let’s go back a year or so. Years after I was supposed to have stopped having the skin of a malnourished teenager, a giant pimple grew on my face. It was all the hotness, I tell you. Anyway, I got sick of carrying this thing around with me and having to talk to everyone from behind the giant cheek pimple so I went to the pharmacy looking for a solution. The lady behind the counter listened to my request and instructed me to follow her around the store. I started walking behind her as she made her way to the makeup section and grabbed a foundation that she said would match my skin tone.

That, right there – society’s problem, in a nutshell.

I didn’t want to cover it up. I wanted it gone from my skin. Not because of what it looked like (well, okay, it wasn’t the prettiest I had ever felt) but because of what it meant for my skin. I was looking for some sort of lotion to treat the skin and make the pimple disappear, not just a way to disguise it.

Every single ad that has the potential to be about health actually sends out an obvious message about looks and appearance. Why do we keep confusing these two things? Since when is a “bikini body” a sign of health? Unless I suck my stomach in, I’ve got a layer of nice healthy chubby flesh that hangs over the top of my bikini bottoms. But I assure you I can outrun most of the skinny chicks on the beach.

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The whole perceived beauty thing has been in the spotlight recently because of Dove’s latest ad campaign. As much as I remind myself to take anything Dove says with a grain of salt (they are in the business of making you feel like you need their creams and lotions after all), Dove has been consistently making those “real beauty” campaigns for years. Also, Dove is owned by Unilever, who own Ben & Jerry’s. I can’t bring myself to completely dislike people who make Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream. Regardless of our thoughts on the campaign, it’s getting people to talk. Possibly even getting people to wonder to themselves whether they’re actually more beautiful than they see themselves as being.

I could rant on and on for thousands of words about how many people are judging themselves based on completely arbitrary and subjective numbers, but there’s really no point. Just like I’m ranting about “beach bodies” right now, I’m probably two or three blog post reads away from exploding all over the DietBet stuff that seems to be inundating the internet right now (although, when that day comes, I’m not sure I know enough expletives in just one language to describe what I think of how irresponsible that can be). The point is that there are a number of “healthy living bloggers” out there talking about “bikini bodies” and other related crap and carelessly passing on the wrong “skinny = fit” message. This morning, while emptying out my Google Reader, I read yet another one of those “are you ready for bikini season?” posts and officially reached my threshold. Your pseudo-motivational posters with super skinny chicks in tiny bikinis holding weights are irresponsible. The whole “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” crap that Kate Moss probably said out of hunger is something you’d only agree with if you’ve never found yourself in a room with a jar of Nutella.

Have you ever spectated a marathon, for example, or any other kind of sport that requires a fairly decent level of fitness? Next time you do, notice how different those fit people are from the people you see on catwalks (the ones having 2 lettuce leaves and a pea for lunch). Fitness comes in all sizes and shapes. I don’t want to be the skinniest person in the cemetery. I want to be the last one to get there.

I’m not saying we should all be praising the benefits of a 100% chocolate brownie-based diet (although, admit it, that sounds awesome). All I’m saying is that you don’t have to get your body ready for summer, certainly no more than you should get your body ready for any other season. Your “bikini body” is whatever body you put a bikini on and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t really helping you at all. So, northern hemisphere ladies, put on your bikinis, bathing suits, onesies or tents. Put on whatever you want. Just enjoy your summer (now that I’m already missing mine) and stop wasting time thinking about what you appear like to others. More often than not, others don’t actually give a shit. And neither should you.

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Getting off my soapbox now. It’s time for a muffin.