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I'm sick of "All bodies are good bodies." - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
I'm sick of "All bodies are good bodies."
There's a popular meme that says "All bodies are good bodies," often with a collection of photographs or drawings. The whole point of the meme is to counterbalance the narrow range of what our culture considers physically healthy and attractive. And while I'm sympathetic to the project, the meme is still a terrible one.

While the range of bodies shown is broader than what used to show up on the cover of Cosmopolitan or Redbook, there are still two issues with the meme that make it little better than the standards it intends to replace.

First, the meme is always about women. I don't think I've ever seen a "All bodies are good bodies" about men. There is only one standard for men, and Chris Hemsworth and Idris Elba epitomize that standard. The "dad bod" is an acceptable alternative, but "dad bod" articles are always written a wink and a nod that "We know you're really too busy and too lazy, and besides you're married and don't have to work hard to keep up the appearances. It's not like you're out to get the chicks now, are you?"

Second, while the meme broadens the list of acceptable bodies, it still consigns an awful lot of people to the shadows. The usual meme depicts the tall white woman, the short woman, the brown woman— usually with afro, to remind us that she's really, really brown— the modestly fat woman, and the disabled woman; the last is usually a woman in a wheelchair or one using long-term forearm crutches.

You know what you'll never see in these memes? Psoriasis, sebhorrea, exczema, planus. If you see cellulite, it's a little on the thighs not the massive build-up that turns the buttocks into a cauliflowered-textured challenge for Lunar Lander. You never see the deformities of disability.

There remains a powerful bright line to physical attractiveness. It has been broadened to include a few manic pixie dreamgirls who happen to be stuck in wheelchairs, walkers, or with canes, and who happen to have more melanin than in the past, and who happen to have a little more bodyfat than in the past. But that bright line exists, and to this day only saints are praised for crossing it.
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