We all know that women’s magazines are not exactly the bastions of body positivity. To be fair, they do seem to be making more of an effort, but I still find it quite worrying how many recently published results are available when I google “pear-shape” or “apple-shape”.
See, I remember being about 13 years old and reading an article that helped me – ‘helped’ me – to determine what shape my body is and how best to dress to flatter that particular figure. I wasn’t an apple-shape. That’s when you are top-heavy and your waist, chest and hips are all kind of the same size. As a pear-shape (“your thighs and hips are wider than your waist and bust!”), I was advised to wear tighter fitting bottoms and flowing, ‘busy’ tops with bright colours or patterns…all the better to distract from my, apparently gigantic, lower body.
Sweet apple and red cabbage make a perfect combination.
I was also advised to wear push-up bras to maximize my paltry bosom and to favour empire lines when it came to dresses. I was not allowed to wear anything form-fitting from head to toe. And I definitely had to avoid horizontal stripes because, according to the article, I was wide enough without adding to the problem.
I am not a pear. I am not a apple.
Except here is the problem – a problem I can see now but really struggled to see back when I was 13 – I am not a pear. I am not an apple. I am a human. A human with ample thighs that are strong enough to kick butt when I fight in my dojo. A human with full hips that undulate when I dance to my favourite songs. I have a cute little belly that’s the result of loving cooking and loving eating even more. I have a chest that’s the perfect pillow for my two cats and arms that can lift anything I need to, except my two cats who, incidentally, also love eating. Then there’s my neck which holds my head up high. I don’t know of any pears, organic or not, that can claim the same.
And, in defense of pears, even pears vary in shape. Go have a read here and you will see the varieties of pears that are out there. Some of them are completely round, for crying out loud. Not to mention pears with no pesticides that end up looking completely wonky but taste just as scrumptious. I remember seeing a picture floating around Instagram that said “A complete list of things women over 30 should not wear” and when I zoomed in, in teeny tiny font, it said “the weight of other’s expectations”. Preach…peach.
I am not a piece of fruit and I refuse to subscribe to the idea that a person should be forbidden from wearing an item of clothing because of the arbitrary circumference of their waist. It’s not really permissible to leave the house naked (ugh, societal convention is so limiting) but because of this rule, pretty much anything goes when it comes to covering up.
Reaffirming Body Positivity
There is so much work ahead of me when it comes to undoing the self-loathing that I have, over time, incorporated into my identity. Working out, eating healthily but not depriving myself of my favourite things…those are positive steps. But there’s a lot of unlearning that needs to happen about what women are meant to look like and accepting that there isn’t a prototype. There’s not a genetically modified, perfect pear that we should all aspire to be.
There’s just homegrown you, shaped by time and nature. And you are damn delicious.