Attention, everyone: I think I’ve just found the role model I’ve been looking for my entire life. Amani Terrell has taken to Hollywood Boulevard to use her body to speak out against Hollywood’s beauty standards, and to remind people that those standards are unrealistic and— by extension — unhealthy. In a video clip aired by FOX News, Terrell struts her stuff down the boulevard in a bikini, and where I expected to hear heckling from the passers-by, what I saw was an overwhelming sense of support and appreciation.
What I love most about this clip is that Terrell doesn’t focus on the common “real women have curves” phrase that plagues the body positivity movement. Women are WOMEN, end of. Body shape, genitalia, and general external presentation are irrelevant, and whenever someone utters “Real women have ______” I automatically start to cringe. Rather than qualifying why her body is better than other bodies, Terrell speaks frankly on the subject of weight and self-confidence, saying, “You cannot seek validation from other people. This world is very cruel. You must seek validation within yourself and be kind to yourself.” Damn. Sadly, "be good to yourself, then be good to others," isn't something we hear often enough as adults — despite the fact that this is something we tell children all the time.
I also love the way Terrell addresses the issue of bigger women and low self esteem. (See: my previous post on fashion for heavier ladies.) In my own personal experience as a fat woman, I frequently wake up feeling very confident — but my self-esteem gets trampled throughout the day as I’m constantly reminded that even though I love my body, I’m not supposed to. According to the beauty standards set by current American society. Terrell explains the contradiction neatly: “There’s a big misconception that big women have low self esteem, I don’t have low self esteem. I’m 260 pounds. I know that I do need to lose the weight, however, I love myself regardless.”
Most of the criticism toward the body positivity and fat acceptance movement is based in “medical concern,” with thin people screeching “If you’re fat, you’re unhealthy, and if you love yourself, you want to take care of yourself and be healthy, therefore you cannot love yourself if you are a fat person, and if you tell fat people that they are beautiful just the way they are, you promote an unhealthy lifestyle.”
Are thin people never sick? Do they never make poor lifestyle choices that negatively affect their health? DO THEY NOT STILL LOVE THEMSELVES? Self-esteem, self worth and self confidence should not be based on whether or not you are “healthy,” which I put in quotations because body weight and general health are not equivalents. Having someone like Amani Terrell get on national television and say that as a fat woman, she loves herself and knows that even though her body weight is medically defined as unhealthy, she still chooses to love herself — speaks volumes to me. Motivation for weight loss should come from a place of self-love; telling someone that they’re fat, ugly, worthless, a bad role model and completely undesirable (a load of bullshit, honestly) doesn’t seem to make fat people want to lose weight. If anyone ever said something like that to me, I’d be more likely to board myself up in my house and avoid ever seeing another living person again than say “Hm, yes, I see your point, I’ll make sure to only eat things that are green, spend eight hours a day/seven days a week in the gym, among other thin people that will stare at me and judge me for my body until I am about 20 pounds underweight.”
FUCK THAT, BRO. I am here for Terrell and her promotion of body acceptance, and I hope that millions of little girls saw this interview and thought to themselves, "If she can love herself, I can love myself, too."
Images courtesy of Fox.