Summer is cute for all of its chances to glisten, lay in some sand, and be your best sun-kissed self — but every time summer arrives, so does the reminder that shorts aren’t often made to fit people with asses and thighs that are decorated with stretch marks. And rarely do triangle bikinis ever provide support for ladies with visibly asymmetrical, saggy breasts.
We’re about to be in the dead of summer and, no doubt, many of our social media feeds are awash with celebrities pushing appetite-suppressant lollipops and swimsuit ads featuring models with socially acceptable hip-to-waist ratios — all in the name of achieving the perfect beach body for the summer. As for me and my body, I’m taking advice from the Twitter meme popularized by @rachelPLZdotcom.
I’ve decided that summer 2018 is going to get whatever body I give it. And summer 2018 is going to like it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of inspiring body-positive activists working to combat the idea that the only bodies worth celebrating are ones that fit a single-digit dress size. But even within some of these online body-positive spaces, social media users pick apart bodies for not being the “right” kind of fat or exclude marginalized bodies altogether.
My body, now, is the smallest it has ever been. But after years spent treading the waters of the “obese” category on the BMI scale, hearing jokes about my growing hips in high school and college, and witnessing the explosion of #slimthick, I felt like a stranger in my own skin.
So recently, I chose to cope with my uneasiness the only way I know how: By intentionally throwing my awkward self into a vulnerable situation and hoping for a breakthrough. And I had one. If you’ve read my writing here on HG, then you know I’m all for oversharing to encourage women to be their best selves — from my first time in a striptease class to my experiences in sex-positivity workshops.
And that same philosophy is how I ended up participating in a boudoir photo shoot where I posed topless and made eyes at myself in the name of body peace.
First, I posed semi-nude to help me practice self-love. I had no choice but to see all of myself in a room filled with bright lights. There was nowhere for my saggy boobs, soft-lower belly, or body acne to hide. When I next posed in lingerie, it was like practicing a different kind of self-love — one that didn’t feel like an apology to myself, but instead like an embrace. Hell, like a public display of affection.
The only people involved in the shoot were me, a photographer (who is also my friend), and another client who gassed me up the way all women should gas each other up.
It often feels uncomfortable to be alone with my body. Wearing lacy underthings while a watchful camera eye snapped away was fucking scary — but also empowering.
Boudoir photo shoots are typically considered to be something you do for a romantic partner, for someone’s else’s ogling and pleasure. But I rigged myself up in a bodysuit and butt floss for my own pleasure, and it was quite possibly the sexiest moment of my entire life so far — which says a lot given that I’m a sex positivist.
No, boudoir and nude photo shoots may not be for everybody. They may not even jumpstart your journey to body peace. But when I put my body in a space and in (or out of) clothing that doesn’t usually cater to it, I realized that I’m not limited by thighs that jiggle. I don’t need to hide the supposed “flaws” that society tells women to suck in, shave off, or tighten up.
My 5’3, 150-pound body — with its softness, blossoming cellulite, and noodle arms — is my current reality. Sure, I might want that reality to change one day, but should that day ever come, it won’t be because I altered it just for a season. It damn sure won’t be because I feared I wasn’t beach body ready.