Women criticize their own bodies relentlessly.

Even back in the day, when the desired womanly figure type was curvy, healthy, robust — meaty even — women still managed to find faults and imperfections with their perfectly beautiful bodies (and those of other women too). Body-shaming is a disease that seems to plague women of all ages, and it must stop now. Here’s why.

Your body is good, period.

“She has a good body.” The first time I heard someone say this, I was in college at a frat house party. Of course there was a gorgeous girl there who seemed to command the floor (because of her good body), and the drunk guys were drooling and falling all over themselves. As alcohol flowed, hormones raged.

This particular girl was quite curvy, not thin. She wore super tight jeans, and a midriff-baring half shirt. Yes, that was the dress code in the 80’s.The young men at the party all thought she had a good body.

Apparently it was good enough to talk about, and make lewd, sexual comments about, all night long, until they eventually passed out.

These guys have since grown up, I hope, but in general, when a man talks about a woman having a good body, it’s meant as a compliment (from their skewed perspective) because they think her body is good enough to play with, and it’s ‘ripe’ for the picking.

Your body is good, period. End of story. It’s not a thing to be praised, validated, reviewed, or criticized. It is good simply because it exists. It is good because of what it does, not because of what it looks like. It certainly shouldn’t be a topic of loud conversation, unless you are in a doctor’s office. Your body is strong and powerful.

Your body just is, and it is good. It serves you, and it’s yours. It’s not for others to consume or judge.

Your body is a wonderland.

For so many reasons, your body is a magical wonderland, but not because it’s a plaything. It carries you, and protects you. Your blood, your muscles, your brain, your feet, your hands, your organs, your vagina, your skin — they are all just miraculous parts that make up the whole that is you.

Drunk guys at parties need not have an opinion about the miraculous wonderland that is your body. As John Mayer croons, “your body is a wonderland,” I can’t help but want to sit him down and ask or yell, “Really, John? Isn’t there more to your girlfriend than that?” Because the truth of the matter is there is so much more.

Your pleasure in yourself is worth so much more than his pleasure with and his acceptance of your body.

Your body is not a project.

Do you work on your body? Do you treat your body like a project? Perfection is a lie. It will never look perfect, to you or to anyone else, ever, so don’t buy into the lie.

Of course you should treat it well, and you should be trying to strengthen it, but it’s important to remember that the goal of fitness is good health, longevity, and the way it makes you feel. The intention is to treat your body with respect and love via nourishment and regular exercise.

Trying to perfect the way your body looks is a wild goose chase.

Your body is hairy and gooey.

Newsflash: women aren’t ‘bald’ all over, and healthy vaginas aren’t dry. Women are hairy and gooey. This is the way of things. Get over it. If you want to shave, go ahead and shave. That’s your business. If you want to let it grow, then let it goddamn grow. It’s yours. Own it. Braid it.

If you’re concerned about your discharge, see a doctor. But for heaven’s sake, don’t feel gross or bad or ashamed about something that is a natural part of being a woman. You, as you, with all your hair and goo, are just fine.

Your body is not a piece of fruit.

You know you’ve read this. Magazines like to talk about shapes. What shape are you? What’s the best way to hide your shape? Are you an apple? A pear? Are you a triangle? Are you shaped like a square? Who the fuck cares? Are you healthy? Do you exercise? Okay then.

Women have long suffered body image issues, and it’s mainly because of what we are told, the images we digest, the magazine articles we read, and how people react to us in our natural state. We exist how we are formed, via genetics, and how we take care of ourselves.

God forbid we’re too short. Tall is good, but too tall? No, thanks. Too thin? Nope, please eat something! Fat? Bad girl, stop eating! Small chest? Poor thing. Giant boobs? Okay, maybe. Why is it so important to be a perfectideal? Why are we judged solely on how we are built and what our bodies look like?

And who the hell asked for all the judgment? I am guilty of sizing people up when I first meet them, are you? I’m committed to stopping, though. I catch myself doing it and I shut that shit down. But, most importantly, why do we judge ourselves so harshly? I say, enough already! Let’s all collectively stop.

Your body is your business.

Politicians and the like will try to legislate and regulate your body. They will debate your reproductive rights and create laws to govern your uterus and your ovaries. Last year alone, politicians tried to regulate women’s bodies 468 times. Do you want to know how many times they tried to regulate men’s bodies? 0 times.

They will work to restrict, control and limit what you are allowed to do with your body, and they will make it part of their campaign platform. They will work to set limits and cut funding for healthcare and birth control resources. They will talk about morality, ethics, and money. They will use shame and religion.

Generally, they will not talk about rape or incest or not-so-simple, personal decisions. They will not talk about victims. They will not offer much education or support, and they will not talk about reproductive equality, sexual equality, or choice. And they will not help you pay for your baby once it is born.  

Your body isn’t a contestant.

Do you have a bathing suit? Do you like to swim? Then put it on and go swimming. There’s no big prize for looking like a 13-year-old model on the beach, so stop double-tying that damn sarong, and start playing in the sand. Let your beautiful butt cheeks see the light of day. The sun is out now, and it will set in a few short hours.

And guess what else? Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so right now is the time to play. Don’t wait. There’s no podium for thanking your sponsors, and there are no awards. Your body is not a contestant.

Your body is awesome.

Back in college, I thought I had a good body, but I didn’t. My body was dehydrated and malnourished. My body was over-exercised and weak most of the time. My body was sore and sick. My body was fat sometimes, and thin others. My body was brittle and bony. My belly protruded because it was swollen.

I thought I looked great because I was thin, but I didn’t look great at all. I wanted the perfect body. I wanted it so badly that my hair fell out and I even turned yellow for a little while. And then, after college, my body endured years of a beating so brutal that it almost died.

Today, my body is awesome. It brought two healthy babies into the world (somehow it did this for me). It provided nourishment and protection. My body has shoveled snow, planted flowers, cleaned garages and painted houses. My arms have enveloped children and animals.

Today it doesn’t compete, it doesn’t seek to be picked (off of a tree, or at a party), and it repels outside control. My body has weathered darkness, and it has climbed a mountain of change. It fought through and finally expelled miles and miles of emotional and physical illness. It endured the stabbing removal of life-giving organs.

Today, I wear my scars like badges. My body gave a river of blood, and tears, and life fluid. It gave enough to flood the world. And then it miraculously healed itself from within.

Now it runs like the wind. It doesn’t give up, or in. It is connected to the earth and to the air. It remains grounded, having survived the trials of the past, and now, in its prime and at its peak, it seeks only to breathe.

My body is alive. It is awesome, and so is yours.

Author – Kimberly Valzania (Follow her personal blog here eatpraypost

This article was originally published in Rebelle Society