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Our body 'flaws' are only bad because we keep calling them flaws

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Are we trying so hard to solve body-image problems that we're creating new ones?

Hang around the Internet long enough and you're guaranteed to find a reason to feel bad about yourself. If it's not your intelligence, morals or ideas being insulted, it's your body. Whether you're comparing yourself to airbrushed models or perfect Instagirls, your list of faults is only limited by your imagination. I know this, and still, I found myself blindsided the other day when I found yet another flaw: violin hips.

The body-positivity movement is one of the best things to come from the Internet in recent years, in my humble opinion. Yeah, I like silly GIFs and up-to-the-second news like everyone else, but it has been so freeing to learn that I'm not the only person with insecurities. I've never been the most confident person, and I take strength from reading how other women have overcome their struggles with self-image.

But there is a downside to "I learned to love my ____" think pieces, and that's when they introduce you to something new to be worried about.

More: Bashing your body is a surefire way to gain weight

The other day I was reading one of my favorite feminist websites and came across an article about how the author had learned to accept and love her violin hips. Her what?! Despite years of being both a woman and an Internet reader, I'd never heard that term before. I quickly finished her piece, which ended with the obligatory I'm-in-a-bikini-and-proud-of-it snaps, and then decided to Google it.

Two hours later, when I emerged from the Internet rabbit hole, I had two new realizations: I definitely have violin hips, or hip dips. And I definitely have a new insecurity. Oops.

Don't ask me how I missed the memo all these years, but apparently, we women are supposed to have perfectly smooth, rounded hips from thigh to waist. If you have a little dip between your thigh and hip, then that is a problem that, like all body problems, must immediately be fixed or hidden before someone's tender eyes get burned from their skulls after seeing your unholy lumpiness.

Now don't get me wrong, I definitely understood that the point of the original article was to make me feel not bad about the fact that my hip skin follows my natural bone structure in a way that is completely and totally normal (it totally is!). But because I'd never known that this was A Thing Women Worry About, I had to go through an accelerated cycle of first feeling bad about it so I could start not feeling bad about it.

Yes, I realize how messed up that sounds. But it's like when I got glasses in fifth grade and my aunt told me "Oh, good choice on those glasses! They really hide your big nose." And I was all, "Wait... I have a big nose?" Or when clothing companies tell you that their jeans will fix your flat butt, and you're like, I didn't realize my flat-but-functional rear was broken. Or when a magazine lists 20 swimsuits to hide your cellulite, and you're like, wait, doesn't everyone have cellulite? When did we start having to hide it. Or when your high school friend posts a picture on Facebook and says, "I'm sooooo fat. I'm going on a diet like right now," and you're like, "Um, you look exactly the same size that I am."

More: 11 celebs who gave body-image expectations the middle finger

I think it's just hard to talk about your personal insecurities without also talking about why people are so insecure about them in the first place. And honestly, I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm glad these body-positive pieces exist (and I've even written a bunch myself!). They help people feel less alone in our imperfectness! But where do you draw the line between solving problems and creating new ones?

As you ponder that one — because apparently I'm addicted to getting answers from the Internet — I'll be trying on my swimsuits and wondering if everyone has been secretly horrified by my lumpy hips for the past two decades and just too afraid to tell me. Or maybe, just maybe, everyone doesn't know violin hips are a bad thing, either. And maybe they're really, really not. Wait, did I just come full circle?

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