July Editor's Letter: Body Love

Photo: Original Illustration by Haobin Ye

In 1997, Psychology Today commissioned a survey of 4000 mostly female people in the U.S. and asked them their feelings toward their body image and appearance. The results weren’t exactly uplifting: 56% of women stated they were dissatisfied with their overall appearance, with 89% of women saying they wanted to lose weight. In recent years, however, there’s been a shift. Refinery29 conducted a survey in 2016 and found that only 12% of women felt unhappy with their bodies at all and that the majority of women worked out not to lose weight but to support their health, to get stronger, and for their mental health. Good news, right? Maybe we should thank social media, which allows us to see more people’s bodies—real bodies—who are fierce, confident, and unabashedly comfortable in their own skin, no matter what size they are. Maybe it’s because the beauty and fashion industries are finally becoming more inclusive. Hell, maybe it’s because we all realized that being kind to our bodies—whether it’s through the foods we fuel it with, the yoga classes we sign up for (that we occasionally sleep through), or just from looking in the mirror each day and saying, “You look good, girl” (even when we might not 100% feel it)—makes us feel better than the alternative. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce our July theme of Body Love: a monthlong celebration of the vessels we inhabit—how to take better care of them, what to slather on them to make them glow à la Queen RiRi, and the journey of learning to love and live in them.

This is the part where we all promise to love our bodies and stop being so critical, then go about our merry way to the beach, flinging our swimsuit cover-ups off with abandon. Here’s the thing, though: Preaching body love is one thing, but living it out is another story. My own relationship with my body can best be described as “it’s complicated.” As someone who champions body positivity and who just wrote an entire paragraph about being kinder to the one I exist in, I used to feel crushingly guilty on the days when I looked in the mirror and felt frustration, anger, or anything less than 100% positivity. The guilt would fester and lead to thoughts like, Why can’t you just be happy with what you have? Why are you fixated on your body when you should be focusing on XYZ? Why are you comparing yourself to this person you literally don’t even know? Our wellness editor, Victoria, was the first one to tell me that those feelings are okay—that self-love and body acceptance is an ongoing journey that will have highs and lows that won’t just disappear once you reach your “goal weight.” In short, it’s completely okay to not love your body 24/7. This month, we’re asking 30 women to share stories behind their “best/worst body days.” (My high: a recent photo my friend took of me eating pasta where my jawline looked especially chiseled. My low: looking at my stomach in the mirror after said pasta binge.) The takeaway? We’re all in this journey together, and it’s never going to be a straight, easy path toward acceptance—but let’s support each along the way, shall we?

This isn’t to say we should let our insecurities have a heyday. One of the things I’m most looking forward to sharing with you all this month is our 2018 Glow Report. Not only will you be getting a firsthand look at some of the buzziest body launches for summer, but we’ll be showcasing them in all of their glittery glory on real women from our community—women who have stretch marks, dimples, and cellulite. Women who are beautiful. We’re currently casting through our community as I type (you can submit yourself here), and our only requirement is simple: Be confident. I have a row of body shimmers, lotions, self-tanners, and masks lined up on my desk at the ready, and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase them on bodies that look like yours, hers, and mine. At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility as a beauty website and media entity to practice what we preach, and I hope that this is one small step in the right direction—a step that will lead to another and another and another.

Until then, let’s do whatever the hell we want with our swimsuit cover-ups at the beach. Deal?

— Faith Xue
@faith_xue