“Don’t you think that’s a bit too much?”: Cookies, ideals and body positivity

As women** we often hear we should lose a few pounds (or less frequently that we should gain). Doctors, friends, family: basically anyone can come up with this intendedly well-meaning, but fundamentally still criticising advice. That itself would not be an issue that our GP feels responsible to advise us to lose or gain for health reasons. But why does everyone else feel entitled to lecture us? Pictures used in the article are from:

Actually there is a bigger consensus behind this: it is accepted that a woman's body can be a subject for constant judgement. In the patriarchy it is a right and obligation of each and every member of society to lecture or even punish women who differ or are threatening to do so. Therefore one doesn't even have to be overweight for most diverse people to kindly warn them, if they take some cookies for a suspicious: “Don't you think that's a bit too much?”

As a lesbian* it is an important political task not to be engaged in the neverending judgement of women's bodies, not to be part of the well-ment oppression of women. We have to resist the deliberately kind intention, which somehow still consists of the privilege of unceasing judgement. In English this perspective created the term body positivity. Body positivity highlights the worth of the most diverse body shapes: curves are as beautiful as a boney physique. This way there is no room to lecture a woman based on their body, because however they look there is beauty and value in it.

However it’s not an easy mission: we are hardly or can’t change or influence beauty ideals and physical attraction. One may not be able to change them, as they are result of a long and thorough socialisational process deriving from childhood, making them deep, internalised values. What we find pretty and femine is deeply influenced by society’s ideals created hundreds of years ago and passed from one generation to another. Therefore no matter how aware we are how oppressing a certain ideal body type is, how many times woman are scolded for it, it’s still not easy to emotionally let go of our perception of beauty.

A long and hard process is needed to reframe our thinking from harmful body ideals to an open and accepting mindset, body positivity. As the whole of our society carries the ideals we’re trying to leave behind, some resistance is expected. Society might say “But being overweight is very harmful to our health! We should not encourage this behaviour.” If this occurs it’s advised to take a deep breath and think about how physique is mostly not a choice, and even if it is influencable, it’s not mandatory to always  judge those who do not meet the expectations. Simply put: the process won’t be easy. We have to face ourselves, as we already have set ideals, and we have to face the whole of society. 

As a lesbian* we are very much aware what it’s like being judged based on our body and appearance. That is why we should discontinue the mindset punishing differing from norms, like being overweight. This may not by all means be easy, but we have to try: not just accepting all kinds of body shapes, but actively finding them beautiful. Until we do this, society’s privilege of scrutinising and judging our bodies will stay. To reach equality and acceptance, redefining beauty is vital.

By woman** we mean every person identifying as such. 

Translated by Noémi Rusznyák

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