Today I didn’t feel like writing. Sure, I’m an editor. I’m expected to write. I have a couple of outstanding assignments that are nagging my subconscious because they need to be completed, but it’s that time of the month and — heck, if you’re a lady, you understand — I wasn’t feeling it. The creativity just wasn’t there. But then, it happened. I saw the beyond-disgusting, obscene, misogynistic comments men were making about Dascha Polanco’s un-Photoshopped thighs, and the words (ALL CAPS IN MY MIND!) started flowing.
Let me give you a little background: This morning, one of our awesome writers, Cailyn Cox, wrote a love letter to Dascha Polanco and her very yummy, curvaceous thighs. She praised Polanco for embracing her body, throwing insecurities to the wayside and wearing whatever the hell made her feel sexy to NYFW.
Of course, we expected some to disagree. Sure, maybe there’s a time and place for a onesie (like a pool party or the beach), and this event wasn’t the one — everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and those are the conversations we at SheKnows like to have. But the kind of backlash and hateful comments left on the article weren’t only shocking — they were disgusting and something I had to discuss, because they should never be condoned.
One man, who felt it was his job to weigh in on Polanco’s thighs, said, “Fat is the new beautiful if you are fat. Why are you glorifying this? I wouldn’t normally talk badly about someone that cant keep themselves in good shape but I cant just watch you people glorify it either.”
Nice. Someone teach that guy how to punctuate. But it didn’t stop there; of course someone had to call out the feminists supporting Polanco: “Are you kidding me? This is so disgusting. No amount of ‘retouching’ would make it believable that she didn’t have cellulite, anyway. Go home radical feminists, stop pushing gross shit on everyone.”
And then, there was the worst — from yet another man: “WTF? How is it that women get like this? No f-cking clue as to how they should take care of themselves? Only word to describe this heffer is ugly. ‘Damn, ugly’ if I was to use two words!”
Excuse me, how is it women get like this? First of all, what is this? Hot? Curvy? Confident? Badass? And second of all, is he saying all men always take care of themselves? Or are they just lucky that women don’t shame them as much if they have a little more cushioning on their bones? Further, what the hell constitutes taking care of yourself, and how does Polanco’s size not fit that? She’s healthy. She’s happy. She’s proud of who she is. Would it be better if she hated her body or, worse, starved herself to achieve a body type that isn’t natural for her?
Look. I get it. You don’t have to agree or approve of what Polanco wore to the fashion show, but get out if you want to talk about her “fat” or “cellulite.” Polanco chose to wear this outfit because she wanted to make a statement. She wanted the world to know that this is her, this is real, and she’s good with that. Who the fuck are you to shame her for loving herself? Maybe you don’t think the outfit is cool, but the message behind it is. Polanco’s bravely using her body to push society and the fashion industry into realizing that not all women fit a size 0–4, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Polanco told People, “I want to break that barrier. Even though I’m a size 8 or 10, I still can look as great as someone who’s a size 0. This is why I work out; I’m making sure my body looks how I want it to look, so that I’m confident enough to wear a transparent catsuit or show skin.”
She does look good, and she’s doing everything right. I can’t tell you how many hours of my teens and early 20s I wasted on hating my body, wishing I had a thigh gap, researching diet pills on the internet and dreaming I could cut off my inner thighs (that’s not an exaggeration). The obsessing ensured that I never went over a size 4. Did that behavior make me more attractive than Polanco because I was smaller? I think not. I’ve struggled to accept myself and my body for the way it is, and I’m wholeheartedly thanking Polanco for telling me and all girls and women that our flaws, stretch marks and cellulite are OK. They make us who we are. We shouldn’t ever feel like we have to hide them. And from now on, I never will.
So, men leaving shameful comments: You’re not attracted to Polanco? You’ll never want to date women with cellulite? Cool. No problem. Your gross expectations of women make you “damn ugly,” so you don’t stand a chance. I sincerely hope for the rest of your lives you know how to take care of yourselves.
Love, A Radical Feminist