Writing body positive: a learning curve

(he he, see what I did there)

Ever since starting a new medication three years ago, I’ve slowly but steadily been gaining weight. Fun! Especially when you take my past of disordered eating into consideration.

My reality now: I have a bigger, softer body. One that doesn’t fit the ‘standard’ definition of good bodies anymore. And no matter how often I tell myself it’s stupid and inconsequential – turns out, as someone who always used to ‘pass’ (and for whom ‘passing’ was pivotal), ‘failing’ that standard and still maintaining a sense self-worth is no easy feat.

And that got me thinking. How am I supposed to drop that standard as a measure of my own worth, when I’m telling my readers it’s important at the same time??

Yup. All the important women in my book? Were young, pretty – AND THIN. Apparently this is how the world works EVEN IN MY OWN HEAD. Any woman worth following, or investing in, should be considered ‘beautiful’, ‘passable’ at least, in a physical sense.

Gotta say, reading N.K. Jemisin already did a good bit to cure me of that bias. But the most important work I had to do for myself. I had to look within, to see where that blueprint came from, and why I was applying it to my poor characters.

And so I stopped. I made some women old. Or plus-sized. Or just average. WITHOUT THEIR SIZES OR AGES OR LOOKS BEING A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION. I robbed that little nagging demon, that says we should all conform to the norm or we no longer matter, of a voice.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, and neither is my manuscript. My heroine? Still pretty, still thin. It has a function, but she’s definitely also thin and pretty as a kind of wish fulfillment. Is that bad? Is that good? I don’t know. But I do know I find it important to explore my own bias on this topic – and to write beyond it. To write body positive.

Curious to know if this is a thing for anybody besides me;)

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