I never used to let myself get photographed from behind.
As someone who grew up terribly self conscious about her legs, I’d worry about what people would think if they saw my dimpled thighs, self equating my (very natural) cellulite with words like “gross” and “flaw” because this is what I was conditioned to believe about my body. When I finally did get comfortable wearing shorts, I would only allow photos from the front, or perhaps the side—but never from behind.
Today, as someone who feels infinitely empowered, safe, and liberated within her own body, that fear is no longer something that controls me.
Being the boss of my own body changes the tendency to obsess over external opinions; it diminishes the preoccupation with what other people think and gives me the power and perspective to make autonomous choices for my body, based on my own preferences, both aesthetic and lifestyle.
With that power I realized that the cellulite doesn’t actually bother me, it bothers the overculture.* Choosing not to let it bother me disrupts the standard that demands we conform to it’s absurdly narrow confines.
Because the idea that cellulite should bother me is a narrative that was never mine and never rooted in truth. The notion that a woman should heavily judge and obsess over the body in which she lives isn’t inherent—it’s inherited. And if it wasn’t ours to begin with, then what’s to determine that we can’t also shed and overcome that belief?
When we begin to unpack this narrative we discover that feeling comfortable—and ultimately, powerful—within our bodies is dependent upon our ability to overcome the need for external validation.
We must validate ourselves if we want to live in self-acceptance. We cannot allow the opinions of others and the socialization of what’s acceptable to be louder and more pervasive than our own autonomous and unique desires for our bodies.
Something is not “gross” or a “flaw” simply because society deems it so. As you journey towards deeper self-acceptance within your body, it’s crucial that you ask yourself: Do I really despise this thing about my body, or do I feel that way because I’ve been conditioned to believe so?
*Overculture: The dominant culture in a society, whose customs and standards are those normally followed in public, as opposed to a subculture. See also: Patriarchal World Culture.