Her pants—bright pink with
lighter pink polka dots—rested just beneath her belly. Her matching T-shirt rode
up to reveal this wide expanse of skin, which I often jiggled because it made
her laugh. The sleeves hugged her upper arms, revealing great dimples of skin
at both the elbows and the wrists. She gave me The Serious Look, gazing at me
solemnly, eyebrows raised, double chins pressed against her shirt's collar.
This was my favorite facial
expression out of all her facial expressions. God, I couldn't get enough of
"Lookit that belly," my
dad said, laughing and giving it a poke. I shot him a dirty look.
"She's got Flintstone
feet," he said wonderingly, referring to her baby cankles.
"What did I tell you,"
I snapped, my voice rising.
But it was the principle of the
matter, I thought to myself. I knew my parents didn't mean any harm when they
joked about my daughter's pudge. But I had grown hypersensitive to my parents'
fat jokes over the years. My dad had always joked about other people's weight.
My mom had always had a complex about her own. The both of them had given me a
complex, too. And though I knew it wasn't something they'd ever done
intentionally, I didn't want my daughter growing up to think that curves were
something that warranted jokes and cruel snickers. No matter what shape she
ended up with, I wanted her to know it was beautiful.
So I was starting early, banning
all comments about size and shape and weight.
"She's a curvy woman,"
I sometimes say when someone else slips. It took me years to say those words
about my body with something approaching pride. I want her to know them from
the very beginning.
Sure, we're supposed to be secure in our awesomeness, no matter how others see us. But it still feels nice to feel pretty. It still feels nice to know that others find us desirable and attractive.
This past week, Sports
Illustrated announced that it was featuring two "plus-sized" (i.e.
normal-looking) women in their annual swimsuit edition. Robyn Lawley, a size smaller
than me at size 12, is the second curviest model to ever appear in this
edition. Ashley Graham, size 14, is the curviest.
"I don't know if I consider
myself as a plus-size model or not," Lawley tells Time magazine, making me want to hug her. "I just consider myself
a model because I'm trying to help women in general accept their bodies."
Amen to that.
Reactions to the announcement are
mixed. Some are congratulating the
publication for spotlighting women with average body types. Others wonder
whether they deserve the congratulations. Someone in my Twitter feed, for
example, snarked about how curvy women are finally considered attractive enough
to be objectified, striking a tone similar to Alicia Lutes's satirical
response to the news on attn:. As someone who self-identifies as a
feminist, I feel as if I should agree with them. That I should show scorn over
the fact that Sports Illustrated has
expanded the pool of those it considers worthy of objectification.
But a bigger part of me (perhaps
my thunder thighs?) is saying hell yes, objectify me! Please do show
curvier women that their bodies are worth the appreciative gaze of others. I
mean, it's a fact I already know to be true. Men have always reveled in my
bootyliciousness. But it's a fact that is not echoed in the mainstream media or
in pop culture, where larger people are often presented as comic relief if
they're even represented at all.
Sure, we're supposed to be secure
in our awesomeness, no matter how others see us. But it still feels nice to
feel pretty. It still feels nice to know that others find us desirable and
attractive. That knowledge of desirability is an added bonus no matter how
self-assured you are as a person.
So, yes, thank you Sports
Illustrated. Please do objectify me. Maybe it will finally
inspire other publications (women's magazines, perhaps?) to follow suit.
And I'm sorry, everyone else, but
I can't work up any amount of indignation over the possibility that such a
thing might possibly happen.
I want my daughter to grow up
feeling pretty, in addition to feeling smart, strong, talented, and generally
kick-ass. How interesting that Sports Illustrated is one of the first magazines to model that for her.