Where I’m from (Rochester, New York), it gets cold. And it snows. A lot. So naturally, on the first day it gets above 40, the locals get excited. We dust off our shorts and tank tops. We head to the mall and splurge on bikinis. When it gets warm, less clothes are worn. Makes logical sense, right?
However, with summer comes the self-appointed body police – you know, the people in sunglasses standing outside the crowd at a concert and making comments about everyone enjoying themselves. They roll their eyes and raise their eyebrows at the chubby men with their shirts off or the girls with big thighs in short shorts. “Some girls just shouldn’t wear crop tops,” they say with a resigned shake of the head.
What would we do without their constant vigilance and inspiring dedication to the enforcement of societal norms? I applaud these brave souls for standing up to the tragic plight of having to view someone’s body that doesn’t quite measure up to conventional beauty standards. Really. I salute you.
But in all seriousness, why do non-skinny women make us so uncomfortable? Let’s be real: Quite often, people don’t wear tank tops to show off their arms, but rather because it’s, like, 500 degrees outside and they don’t want pit stains. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who chooses her outfits in that way.)
And so what if someone who you’re not attracted to is showing off his or her body? Do your eyes burn at the sight of cellulite? Does a muffin top offend you? When someone has overcome her insecurities enough to wear something that shows her love handles, or body acne, or scars, or big thighs, then who are you to tell her to put it away?
I’m begging you: This summer, make yourself uncomfortable. Take a good look around and soak in the cellulite, bacne, arm flab, and whatever else surrounds you until these imperfections don’t scare you anymore. Bikinis, shorts, and tank tops are not limited to the slimmest 5% of us. What does it say about our society that unattainable, photo-altered, hypersexualized magazine mega-women are plastered everywhere without objection but seeing a real live body with all its ‘flaws’ makes us uneasy?
[Headline image: The photograph shows a light-skinned person with blond hair relaxing in a wooden beach chair, looking at a blue ocean and blue sky. The photograph is taken from the back, with the person’s arms and hair visible. ]
Jess Frankovich is a student and blogger from Rochester, New York. Read more of her writing on GirlsSpeak.org, a website dedicated to raising awareness of women’s rights and gender issues.
This piece originally appeared on GirlsSpeak.org and is reprinted by permission.