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What's it like to hear about body positivity when you're not a size 0

Between body diversity and obesity, mid-size bodies are reclaiming their importance

What's it like to hear about body positivity when you're not a size 0 Between body diversity and obesity, mid-size bodies are reclaiming their importance

There's a conversation that more than others seems to have taken over the general debate and on social media, the one about bodies. Shown, hidden, judged, reclaimed, loved, hated, a polarization of opinions and visions that has done nothing but add fuel to the fire, in a topic anything but simple in itself. 

I've never been skinny, I've never been obese. I've always been in the middle, in that grey area where a size 44 often felt like an expected victory and a 46 like a searing defeat - and for someone who back in high school wanted to live in skinny jeans, it was quite a swing. 
Weight is a topic that has always been part of my life but that has never controlled it. I have never been one of those people who are anxious or obsessed with their weight, constantly checking the caloric value of each ingredient and constantly looking for a life-changing diet for the summer. I've never let my body define who I am, but only by the way I felt with my body, at ease, uncomfortable, with the desire to change it. Weight has never been a problem, but rather an obstacle to my style choices: wanting to wear certain jeans or a tight-fitting dress. Pure vanity, in short, but that somehow protected my mental health. Perhaps, luckily for me, I've given more importance to other aspects of my person and my character, with the awareness of being more than the size I wear, an achievement that I take for granted but which for many people other people isn't. 

Now that everyone talks, often inappropriately, of body positivity, I've begun to pay more attention to the messages, explicit or subliminal, to say the least contradictory, to which we - especially women to be honest - are subjected. On the one hand, they reassure us, we're told that we are beautiful just the way we are, that we don't have to change, we're shown that even skinny girls have little rolls when they sit down, in stupid challenges that have always been useless; on the other, we are bombarded with workout clips, fitness tips and videos of incredible physical transformations. In this sense, two of the latest Vanity Fair Italia covers might be quite exemplary, two examples that clearly illustrate the confusion that exists on the subject and the difficulty that social and traditional media face when it comes to issues such as feminism and body positivity. If Vanessa Incontrada had been celebrated - but also harshly criticized - for the courage to be portrayed naked, without retouches, proud of her body and her forms - only to be replaced in the frame of a commercial in which a naked belly was framed a few weeks later - only a few weeks ago Noemi was being incensed for her astounding weight loss, talking about her "finally free" body. Shouldn't there be a limit to how we talk about other people's bodies?  

That same ambiguity is real also in everyday life. If you dare to say that you're starting a diet or that you are working out, a chorus of admiration immediately rises, so many compliments that seem to say, not too covertly, "I thought you had to lose a few pounds". This inevitably corresponds to the comment "You look great like this" when you really lose those pounds. In the same way, there always has to be a kind of explanation, almost a justification, to explain the weight gain: how many times have we mocked each other, pretending to have fun, saying that yes, we like to eat and what can we do about it? as if we were to sympathise. And in the same way when you admit that you have gained weight, you immediately feel the urge to add that you have already run for cover, that you are fasting, that you are training, that you are frustrating yourself at night to make up for your sins. 

In this schizophrenia of positions and thoughts, about a month ago I realized that my favourite jeans, some vintage white Levi's that make me sit *chef's kiss* no longer fitted, I decided to run for cover, going to a nutritionist. Beyond the diagnosis and the amount of rice that I've been eating lately, I was very surprised by the way some of my thoughts on weight and body positivity that I posted on my IG Stories were received (you didn't have to post that on IG, you might say, and you might be right too), particularly because it seems that the message has reached both men and women. It's crazy how much importance we give to the validation of others: even when I shared my personal and intimate opinion, of which I was convinced and sure, on such a delicate issue, I longed for a pat on the back, for someone to tell me you're right, it's true. The biggest surprise, however, came from the girls and young women who follow me - I'd like this phrase to sound less like that of a wannabe influencer, but never mind - some close friends, others simple social media friends, others never met in person. All of them made me understand that they too experienced what I had told firsthand, that we all experience the same discomfort, that the judgment of others have on us and our body leaves a mark, sometimes small, sometimes deep.  

I've always bought fashion magazines and read about fashion in general, and for a very long time in none of them I've never seen a photo of a model that made me think "Wow, I look just like her, I look a lot like this artist or this actress". It was never a trauma or a thought that haunted me, but an awareness that I internalized. It might be that over time I've become familiar with my body and my shapes, it might be that the physical appearance has never been the priority of my life, but this lack of reference models has never made me feel lost. However, this doesn't exclude the feeling of enormous joy, at times almost a vindication, in seeing models like Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve, who in recent seasons have gained a prominent place in the fashion industry. It's important to see Nike's lookbooks featuring curvy models in sportswear, it's important to see "normal" bodies, whatever that word means, in contexts we wouldn't expect. 

I've come across a beautiful, reassuring and fun corner of TikTok, where girls who define themselves #MidSize, not fat, not skinny, just like me, try on clothes, give outfit ideas, laugh in a self-ironic way about wrong sizes and pants that don't fit. This was the first time I was able to say, "We really look-alike" "Those pants would look like that on me too." And if this awareness has had this effect on me, that I'm almost 26, I can only imagine what effect it could have on a young girl who is still unsure of her appearance. 

It's not a matter of being pedantic, of wanting to school others, of saying at all costs that all bodies are beautiful, nor of celebrating imperfections and flaws at all costs, but simply of remembering that everyone experiences their physical appearance and own weight differently. Don't think that after those IG Stories I didn't receive answers like "Yeah, it's okay to be happy with your body, but then you risk getting sick and obese". (Yes, the message came from a man, how did you guess?). As important as a choral and diverse representation of each body type is, sometimes it would be better to let everyone tackle the issue in their own way, in the depths of their own life