"There's something empowering about embracing what society has always shunned."

Mollie Quirk
Jul 15, 2021 @ 6:00 pm
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cellulite confidence summer plus size
Credit: Mollie Quirk, HelloGiggles

Approximately 68% of women in America are considered plus-size, but there's a clear lack of industry representation and shopping options for this majority. In Plus-Size Diaries, we dive into all things plus-size, from sharing personal experiences to speaking out about plus-size culture at large.

I remember being 13 and heading to my local drugstore to stockpile anti-cellulite scrubs and creams that promised to shrink my thighs and eradicate any signs of cellulite. I wanted smooth, toned thighs that resembled the ones of the women I saw in glossy magazines, I wanted strong legs that didn't have dimples, I wanted to have a body that was accepted and desired. In high school, I spent my teenage years worrying about my body: I hated wearing shorts during gym class and I spent so much money on bottles, tubs, and tubes full of cellulite scrubs, lotions, and oils that were dubbed as magic when they were never going to work.

Fast-forward to when I was 20 and hanging out with my mother. "Your legs look a bit dimply in that photo," she pointed out as I sorted through photos to post on Instagram. I was wearing a short floaty dress with my bare legs on show—something that was a rarity for me back then. My mom's comment caught me off guard as she had always been my biggest cheerleader and hyped me up when I was bullied in high school for being "bigger." She always told me that I was beautiful just the way I am. Her comment was a shock me to the system—I didn't know how to feel about it. Did my legs look that bad? Were they unsightly to my mother? Did I need to lose weight?

I searched for the best ways to rid the cellulite and was almost drawn back into the trap of scrubs and creams, dry brushing and ice-cold vinegar baths. But then I stumbled across an article that spoke of how cellulite was natural and that most women had it. This led me to start some research of my own.

According to a new Harris Poll, which surveyed ​​over two thousand women with cellulite, ages 18-59, 67% claimed to be frustrated that they couldn't get rid of it and 57% reported giving up on trying to reduce their cellulite as nothing seemed to work. That's sad, especially considering that an estimated 85% of all women 21 and over having cellulite—it's not an uncommon skin concern, but so many people feel deeply insecure about it.

Back then, I was on the cusp of embracing the body positivity movement after having read "Body Positive Power" by Megan Jayne Crabbe, which made me realize that I was, in fact, worthy in my body regardless of the way it looked. As such, I began to eat intuitively, appreciate my softness, and I slowly came to terms with my squishy body. I realized that almost every woman had cellulite, and eventually, I posted the photo that my mom advised me against. This act of rebellion sparked something within me and since then I've come to fully embrace my body, cellulite and all.

I was so nervous about sharing my cellulite-covered thighs online—I worried people would think I was disgusting or ugly. My biggest worry was that I'd be thrown back into the mindset of high-school-Mollie—bullied and ridiculed for being bigger, teased and taunted for not being slim. I was so reluctant to embrace body positivity at first, so worried it would mean I would face nasty comments all over again, but after posting it, I was met with an unexpected wave of praise.

"Yes to this! Why hide what is already a part of us? I love how you flaunt it!" and "We all have bits we don't particularly like but the trick is to accept them because once you do, you're bulletproof," were some of the many comments I received on the post. Looking back, it was this moment and feedback that sparked my love for promoting a positive body image.

Feeling that my words and pictures could help others feel more seen and secure gave me the biggest boost. I had been notoriously unpopular at school, and this was the validation I had always needed. 

Since then, I've continued to post photos of my body online, and the constant support I get means everything. However, it's hearing how my actions help people that really fuels my drive. A recent DM read: "I've struggled for years with my weight, I had a 10 year run of three eating disorders... It wasn't until people like you and some new friends encouraged me to be myself. Cellulite, stretch marks as well. I finally realize my body is a vessel and is what it is. Thank you for being such a great role model."

My online community has given me a reason to keep loving myself over the past four years, and for that, I am forever indebted to them.

Luckily, I've grown a lot since the days of buying "magic cellulite cream" and now understand that cellulite doesn't need to disappear for me to enjoy summer. Not only do I know it's normal, but I also feel empowered by the dabbled appearance on my skin. My legs have walked me through my entire life and for that, I am eternally grateful.

When I look down at my legs with their dimples and their thickness I feel a sense of gratitude for all that they have done for me: walking me through hardships withstanding hatred, and remaining strong, soft, and beautiful in their unique way.

I grew up reading glossy magazines that bashed women's bodies, and that made me feel bad about myself for years. Now, it's so wonderful that Instagram is full of women who embrace their natural bodies, show off their cellulite, and break free from societal norms. Thanks to the internet, we have cultivated an amazing space for young women to grow up in—a place that celebrates differences and represents minorities. Instagram gets a lot of hate, but if it weren't for the platform, the world wouldn't be as inclusive as it is today. If I had this kind of positive energy when I was a teen, maybe the summers I spent loathing my body would've been spent enjoying the sunshine instead.