So, a friend shared a piece from The Independent about model Lara Stone’s un-photoshopped, mainly nude, post-baby-body; a phrase which drives me nuts, since presumably she still has a baby and our bodies don’t suddenly become different bodies, it’s always a process. The mass media, or pop culture or lazy journalism term ‘post-baby body’ seems to suggest our bodies are somehow separate from us, Stepfordesque flesh suits to try on, battle into submission, nip, tuck, fear and loathe.
For a body-image campaigner such ‘honest’ images are supposed to be successes, after all we are drowning in pictures of women’s bodies, some of them may as well be realistic right?
For a No More Page 3 campaigner, I know that those who miss the point of the campaign will see any celebration of such images from my camp as hypocritical classism, of the ‘oh you like it if it’s in a broadsheet’ variety.
I don’t mean to be churlish and I have no beef with professionally beautiful women, but I have reached saturation point with think pieces on women’s bodies (and am expressing this by writing one – sorry). Maybe because I work in this area every day I’ve had more exposure than most. But at what point can we start talking about women LIVING in/with/through their bodies? Not tolerating them, accepting them, coping with them, battling with them, changing them or loving them, but actually LIVING? So much energy is spent on manipulating how we feel for commercial ends and so much energy is expended trying to help women resist said commercial messages, messages that use sophisticated methods to modify our desires and permeate our pleasure with spikes of anxiety, just so we hand over money. Money which is an expression of time we have spent doing something, very likely for someone else’s benefit or profit.
So images like those of Lara Stone, brave as they are (and they are brave) just seem to reinforce women as body-image. But back to the bravery for a second, they are brave even, if not especially, for a woman who’s conventionally beautiful body is her job. Despite her status as beautiful woman she very likely experiences as much anxiety over her face and physique as any of us for she is subject to much scrutiny, the like of which most of us will hopefully never know. It is telling when we discover that women feted for their ‘flawless’, slender symmetry suffer from worry about their bodies. For we might all think, oh if only this bit of me was ok, then everything will fall into place, the more I look like [….] the easier life will be. The more we care, the more we care. We can take as many body-positive-everyone-is-beautiful selfies as we like and cameras may not lie (though they often aid and abet in being economical with the truth) but we must remember pictures are not people, they are split second snapshots of the light that bounces off of us, no more no less. We can say ‘love your body’ but it can ring awfully hollow because I know I’m made of more than that. I’m not a spirit or mind being transported by a body and I’m not just a base, fleshy creature, I’m a mass of matter and energy and love and anger and contradictions and I want to look good and be good and feel good and for it be ok to look, be and feel bad too. I’m so so sick of being coerced into such dis-ease. It’s exhausting, we are another exploited natural resource, and we are close to exhausted.
But not quite, we’re not totally depleted, there’s enough energy and spark and fuck-you in all of us to be just the right amount of riled, right?