I Have Cellulite (and I don't care)


The season is upon us, friends.  The season that strikes fear into the heart of American women everywhere, the one we have been trained to loathe and dread and deprive ourselves in anticipation of: it's swimsuit season.

{cue the collective shudder}

The rest of the year we can hide behind clothes, cover our "flaws", show the world only exactly what we want it to see, our eyes left to be the lone witness to the reality in the bathroom mirror.  But when June rolls around it brings with it two choices: stay covered, have no fun, and burn to a shriveled ash heap... or grin and bare it, baby.

The thing is most of us aren't grinning.  And no wonder, when we live in a culture absolutely obsessed with youth and an unrealistic idea of physical beauty.  And it's not just the media to be blamed: this attitude has permeated every level of our society and, to some degree, every single human being in it.  Whether we like it or not, it is nearly impossible to escape.

Physical signs of aging are a sickness to be fought, medicated, treated, and above all, despised.

Getting skinny is clearly the goal but we like to call it "getting healthy", because that's more PC.

If childbearing has left a woman stretch-marked and scarred, she should under no circumstances expose the afflicted skin to society at large, lest our eyes spontaneously combust.

Women who are naturally "too" skinny will be accused of having an eating disorder.  To be socially acceptable, you must stay within the predetermined levels of skinny.

Being full figured can be beautiful, as long as you don't have cellulite.  Just look at Beyonce and J-Lo.  See how inclusive we are?

While we're on the topic, cellulite is shameful and is the pesky humiliation that unites all women.  This is clearly an indicator of the slothfulness of the female sex, and not merely a biological component of the female body.

You know exactly what I'm talking about, because you live in the Western world in 2015 too.  Do you know who wasn't worried about getting wrinkles and a little extra fluff?  This lady:

Do you know who still isn't worried about it today?  This lady:

These women are strong, they are hard working, and they know what it is to be a woman who receives the changing seasons of life with grace.

How did we get so far off course?

Well, there are a lot of reasons but I'm gonna go straight for the jugular and make a lot of enemies here: I think the emergence of the birth control pill was a bigger setback to feminism than it was a victory for it.  With the availability of contraception our fertility was completely severed from the rest of our person, only to be picked back up again when deemed convenient and desirable for both parties.  With that severance came sexual objectification quickly after.  When you separate one enormous facet of a woman's personhood, it's only a matter of time before you feel more and more comfortable separating other parts of her as well.  We despise being seen as mere sex objects by the world but well, we kinda gave them permission to overlook crucial parts of us; we did it to ourselves first.   You know what they say about "freedom"- it's never free.  And I believe we have paid dearly.

(And no, I don't see women's bodies as baby-making machines.  I am a strong advocate of Natural Family Planning, which has a 90+% success rate when used correctly, and respects the whole woman.)

Regardless of how we as a generation got on this twisted path, one thing is for sure, ladies: we can't sit around complaining about it and waiting for society to magically change.  We have to take matters into our own hands, and it comes down to a lot of choices.

We can choose to not bring magazines into our homes.  Nothing good ever came from staring at The Airbrushed One Percent for half an hour.

We can use our bodies in ways that make us feel strong and beautiful.

We can notice how our children and our husbands respond to our bodies, and we can take it to heart.

We can remind ourselves of the generations of women who have gone before us and be inspired by the way they lived their lives.

We can limit the amount of media we take in, knowing that it shapes our expectations of "normal".

We can surround ourselves with other healthy women and talk about what it means to be a real woman.  There is strength in numbers.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying we shouldn't adhere to specific ways of eating, that's important for the health of some of us and eating whole, nutritious food is certainly important for all of us.  I'm not saying we shouldn't be exercising.  Again, clearly a healthy practice when done with the right mentality!  What I am saying is that these things shouldn't be done in hopes of making our bodies into something that they weren't designed to be.

We were meant to get older, and our skin and bodies reflect that change.  It's an appropriate thing.  It should not be unsettling to us that we are moving towards one day looking like this:

It should be unsettling to us that society is overrun with products and procedures aimed at the attempt to hold on to something that was never ours to keep.  It should be unsettling that we try so hard to defeat Mother Nature that we lose the chance to exude the pure beauty of a life well lived.

So this summer, let's stick it to the man.  Put on your bikini if that's your thing, wear your one piece if that's your thing, go skinny dipping if that's your thing, but let's have fun dang it!  Let's believe that we're beautiful and powerful and deserving of good things.  Because it's true.

Your body is made up of 37 trillion cells, 650 skeletal muscles, and 7 billion billion billion (not a typo) atoms.  Your body hikes trails, lifts children, works a garden, paces board rooms, swims under waterfalls, feeds new life, visits patients in 15 hour shifts, offers comfort to others, and as it should, ages.  Your body is not an embarrassment.  Your body is a freaking miracle.

photo sources: 
Hilda pinup
early 1900s woman
African woman
aging beautifully

This post is a contribution to Blessed Is She's linkup addressing body image.  If you have a minute, head over there and check out more entries.  You won't be sorry.  #BISsisterhood

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)