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So, Love Your Body day is two weeks from now. I continue to have mixed feelings.

Two years ago I posted about my response to the idea of "making peace" with our bodies. It's all still true. And if you're looking for a succinct, well-thought-out, unambiguous statement from me on the subject, go read that post and then stop, because this post is none of those things. This post is about ambivalence, and futility, and feelings of powerlessness and is even more full of commas and question marks than my writing usually is.

I mean, yes, it is important to practice body-acceptance. But really, why aren't we hearing as much about "Hey You, Stop Hating On Bodies Day"? Or maybe even just "Stop Policing Women's Bodies Day"? Sure, Ms. Magazine showcases a dozen offensive ads a year and many of those get pulled due to reader activism, but … seriously, twelve ads a year? Vs. how big the Love Your Body Day campaign is?

I'm not on board with personalizing the political. And women's bodies are a heavily politicized arena.

Yes, loving those things about myself that society has deemed unloveable is a radical act, and it's not like I can put off self-acceptance until after we kill capitalism. So, yes, I will continue to attempt to not just accept but actively love my body the way it is, with its fallen arches and bum knee and one sometimes painful ovary and saggy belly and itchy c-section scar and flat butt and droopy boobs and underfunctioning thyroid and inflamed psoriasis and cold-weather asthma. And yes, I will continue to appreciate my shapely calves, my bodacious hips, my elegant scallops of back fat, and my head of shiny curls, even as I realize that making a list of things I like about my body doesn't actually achieve the "love my body" I'd like, and regardless of how the NOW Foundation wants to define loving one's body or how that's actually practiced by most people. And I'll continue to remind myself that I can be both smart and pretty at the same time, whether or not those categories are actually definable or important or relevant to my life, because somehow that continues to come back to bite me even after struggling with it for two decades.

But this year? This year I'm finding LYBD to be a form of navel-gazing I need to grow past. This year I'd like to turn my gaze outward. This year I would also like to try to honor women's bodies in all our varieties. And this year, I'd like to work for more change in the message, rather than just try to shore up my personal response to it. (and, this year I will fail, because fail happens, and if I go into it knowing that, maybe I can be less defensive and more able to learn from my errors when they inevitably happen. I'm sure they're happening right here, all over this navel-gazing post.)

Because, me? I'm a betweenie-sized able-bodied white cisfemale thirty-something femme. And from that standpoint, I've got a lot going for me when it comes to the cultural ideal. Sure, it's an unattainable perfection, but at least the illusion is available to me -- and I think that's why so much of LYBD ends up focused on self-acceptance, instead of on changing the culture. Because for a portion of the population -- the portion with most of the disposable income and cultural power -- the futility of self-acceptance is masked. So we keep doing the easy thing, ignoring how fucking futile it is.

Fat women, women with disabilities, women of color, transwomen, postmenopausal women, butch women -- with each additional intersection, that illusion of attainability breaks down more and more. The Fantasy of Being Thin is one thing. And the Love your Body campaign (or more specifically, the LYBD experience as it's realized in the places I encounter it) does a decent job of recognizing that fantasy and deconstructing it (along with the related fantasy of generally appealing to the male gaze). But the other thing I'm hearing, when I hear women talk about the ways in which we love our bodies, is that we also have fantasies of passing as able-bodied, neurotypical, lightskinned, cis, young, as well as hourglass-shaped, blemish-free, able to bench-press heavy things, and so on. And we've done a rotten job of deconstructing *that*.

One of the reasons we've done a rotten job of it is that LYBD is driven by the NOW Foundation, which does a good job of representing non-poor white cisgendered feminists. And as a non-poor white cis feminist, I'm feeling about as well-defended as one can get from the heteropatriarchal advertising universe (though honestly, that says more about the futility of trying to defend against the pervasive male gaze than it does about NOW's work).

What can we do differently? How can we go about dismantling the societal assumptions about what women's bodies are?

I'm going to be reading the words of more people like Monica Roberts and Hanne Blank (to name only two of many) not just so I can sit back and feel good about my reading materials, but as a reinforcement in my work to notice and support marginalized bodies (and marginalized people in general, yes, but I know my blind spots, and I know I tend to internally disembody all our intellects unless I actually pay attention. See also: my ongoing difficulty with smart vs. pretty). I'm going to pay attention to who's getting dissed when the mainstream media wants to flatter my femininity, and to raise hell about it. I'm going to continue to speak up when I see people drawing lines around what is and is not acceptable in women's bodies. I'm going to continue being Publicly Fat in clothing usually not encouraged for fat women (including starting shopping early next spring so I can get a damned bikini in my size before they all sell out). I'm going to continue to expose my kid to a wide variety of women and I'm going to figure out how to talk about interrogating cultural assumptions about bodies to a nearly-five-year-old, because I think she's finally of an age where we can do that more productively. And finally, I'm going to try to come back here and write more stuff like this, because I know more than half my audience is women whose privileges are a lot like mine, and I hope my introspection can help inspire some thoughts on your part -- and for those of you who've been patient and honest with me about your own marginalizations I can only hope that I've done more good than ill, as you've been some serious inspiration to me.
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