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Friday, 18 April 2014

About Body Acceptance

By: Malanka Sveta

Last year my (then) three year old looked up at me one night and, appropos of nothing, said, "I love my boobs...I think they're pretty". I want her to say the same thing when she's thirteen. When she's thirty. When she has thirty great great grandchildren.  And at all points in between. (I also want the same for all of you, men included.) I think this is why I find her fart humour so engaging and powerful. Fart humour, like loving her boobs, is a form of body acceptance. And I know a lot of my friends have really been enjoying that part of her childhood. (In case anyone was curious, she is fascinated by bums this month.)

I read Beauty by Sherri S. Tepper in 1995, and became acquainted with this new body acceptance that seemed revolutionary  to me then, but now seems common sense. (It may be worth mentioning that Beauty is half fairy, half mortal.)

" 'In many imaginary lands, as here, they shit and piss,' she advised me.  'As on earth, though rather less copiously.  But not in Ylles nor, I believe, in Baskarone.  Never mind, dearest.  When you eat fairy fruits, you will not be bothered by such grossness any longer.'

I had not precisely been bothered up until this time, though afterward I seemed to give a great deal of unaccustomed attention to the matter. No doubt this was one of the differences Roland sensed in Mama. The implications were shattering. How refreshing to have all the joys of love (I write in a literary or conventional sense, rather than from experience) sand consequent familiarity with those anatomical proximities which humans find both so unfortunate and so teasingly attractive. I came to the conclusion that there would be no perversions in Ylles."

(Ylles being the name of a portion of Faery.)

" 'Mother doesn't like me,' I said, needing her to say it wasn't true.

'That's not entirely true,' she said.  'Humans make myths about mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. I have counted on them myself, butsometimes the two generations are simply not sympathetic. Especially when they resemble, let us say, the other side of the family.'

It was true.  Except around the eyes, I most resembled father. I resembled him in other ways. Fleshiness. Corporeality. The thousand stinks and farts that flesh is heir to."

(The fairies are extremely attracted to Beauty, and it is her mortality that both fascinates and repells them at different times of her life.)

"I had been wrong about there being no perversions in Faery. Their perversion was to lust after human bodies, with all their stinks and scattish contiguities."

How is this body acceptance? Well, bodies are disgusting. Really. We've all seen what comes out of them.  It's not pleasant. But it doesn't matter, because all bodies do this. Fulfilling the needs of our bodies is a natural and normal thing, and we should embrace it, all of it, because without the ability to accept these thousand stinks and farts we lack the ability to embrace all of the truly wonderful things our bodies are, all of the glorious needs they have, and every fabulous desire of our flesh. The freedom to love our bodies begins with accepting our bodies as they are. Our bodies are beauty, our needs are beauty, even some (possibly most) of our perversions are beauty, and to deny this beauty is to harm ourselves and others. To starve this beauty, to overexcercise this beauty, to fetishize a body ideal, male or female, that doesn't exist is to reject beauty in the name of beauty. (I'm almost certain that was a sentence.) What's the worst that could happen if we all decided, today, right now, that we accept and embrace our beauty, that we love our bodies? I'm actually asking. What's the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen if we lived for ourselves instead of a painful ideal that almost no one can ever achieve?

I love my boobs.  I think they're pretty.  And I think yours are pretty, too.

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