Publicly posting photos of your body as a plus size woman, or a woman who has cellulite, or a woman with stretch marks, or any of a number of perceived "flaws" is incredibly brave. But, as body positive Instagramer Kenzie Brenna expertly argued in a recent post, it shouldn't be.
"I love how people see me in full clothes and comment on how 'skinny' I look in them in comparison to these types of photos where the comments I get 'you're so brave.'
(Which I am) 🙌🙌🙌🙌 " she wrote.
"But, bravery requires an act of courage," she continued. "Courage isn't a characteristic we find in ourselves unless we are doing something out of strength, where the odds are stacked against us."
Models who have bodies society deems attractive and "good" aren't told they're brave for modeling underwear, she wrote, and athletes who are photographed in sports bras or swimsuits also aren't considered brave.
"Bravery requires an acknowledgement of fear, possibility of loss, where chances of failure are high," Brenna wrote. "An act of bravery requires an acknowledgement of living less safe than before."
She uses firefighters as an example: we call firefighters brave because they willingly enter into dangerous situations, to save people at risk of their own lives.
"I just exist," Brenna wrote. "I don't do anything technically brave. I just sit here, discuss my insecurities and get better at loving myself."
There shouldn't be anything brave about that. Loving your body and allowing others to see your love for it should be simple — but it's not.
"🚫WEVE MADE OUR BODIES AN UNSAFE PLACE TO EXIST🚫" Brenna wrote. "We've culturally made it UNSAFE TO BE OURSELVES."
"THAT IS WHY, when I sit crossed legged showing you a body that is underrepresented in our media I get hailed as doing an act of bravery," she wrote. "Because we acknowledge that there may be social failure in this, I may be attacked, I may get hurt JUST BY BEING MYSELF. Can we all just recognize how fucked up that is?!"
"Yo, if being yourself, accepting who you are is an act of bravery what kind of world have we created?"
So Brenna calls for everyone to do their part in making it safer for all people — black, fat, queer, trans, disabled, etc — to feel safe in their bodies. That may mean posting more images like the one Brenna posted, showing off her belly rolls. It may also mean learning to love our own bodies so we can show others that it's okay to love theirs.
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