Do You Love Your Body?

Leandra Medine | August 15, 2016

Do You Love Your Body Man Repeller Leandra Medine Feature 1

I’ve had two rolls in the middle of my stomach for as long as I’ve been able to eat solid foods. Through maniacal sit ups and questionably healthy eating patterns, they’ve stuck with me. Sometimes they’re more faint, other times more pronounced but no matter what I do, they’re always there. I’ve gone through periods when I think about them constantly, and others when I don’t even remember they exist. I’ve both hated them passionately and felt implicitly indifferent towards them but have never, not once, thought that I could love them.

Recently, I posted a photo to Instagram of these rolls (what I call my RBF; resting belly face) accompanied by a caption that read, “I got nothing but love for you.” I didn’t mean it when I wrote it but once the photo was live, I felt curiously liberated. Truly loose.

I got nothing but love for you (me singing to my rolls)

A post shared by Man Repeller (@manrepeller) on

Not at first, though — at first I felt nothing at all. I went on with my night: dinner in Bridgehampton and then ice cream in the town over. But while I sat on a bench licking at my vanilla cone, it hit me. I looked down at my resting belly face and before I could articulate what I was thinking, my husband, Abie, reflexively asked, “What now?” This was as if to once again defend his wife against her harshest and most constant critic: me.

He got a different perspective, though. I looked over at him and asked: “Why do I get so angry about these guys? They represent a lot of really great memories: you and me sitting on this bench eating ice cream on a balmy summer night. The fantastic dinner we just had with friends we feel so lucky to know. Drinking wine with our parents, who are still alive and so well. They’re an emblem of our best spent moments — all of the times I chose experience over vanity.”

So why would I get rid of that? Eliminate those memories and even more importantly the rituals — now physical anecdotes that live on my stomach — that got me there? Without meaning to, I reframed the way I look at myself. Flipped the narrative and convinced myself to salute the thing I hate instead of criticize.

It sounds so cheesy, right? And maybe it is. But it’s also quite simple. Simple enough to take seriously because…what do you have to lose?

Of course, when I checked back at the photo, what I learned was that the majority of the responses were not unique. Arms were up, ready and outraged to tear me down for referring to my “anorexic skin” as rolls.

But here’s the thing — and it’s important: We all have an achilles heel. Something we don’t like about ourselves. Sometimes we use this thing as fodder to connect with each other, but other times we’re afraid to share it because of precisely the feedback we think we’ll get.

Should I feel shame for being shamed about openly posting a photo of a physical weak spot? Of course not. But does the reader know that this is a weak spot, as opposed to a humble brag? Probably not. It’s worth trying to understand that your experience isn’t anyone else’s and that this is true for them, too. You aren’t them, they aren’t you, but that doesn’t diminish, take away or alleviate either experience.

I know I’m quite thin and that the rolls are small but everyone has their shit, point blank. And that shit deserves a chance to be unpacked — shared publicly, if desired, and celebrated because only once that happens can it be freed.

You know, maybe I’m late, but I’m beginning to realize that confidence doesn’t come from losing weight or straightening your hair or buying new clothes or getting a nose job. Those are things we do to numb our psychological demons. We think our problems will be solved by “correcting ourselves” but I wonder, is what we’re doing just trying to overcome shortcomings that have nothing to do with our features and everything to do with how we talk to ourselves?

This morning, I did a workout that kicked my ass. I’ve taken this particular class many times before, and have almost always gotten really mad at myself. For not squatting low enough or jumping high enough. For not being able to hold a plank long enough or for feeling out of breath too soon. Today I didn’t think about any of that. In fact, after the class, without cognitively searching for a positive thought, or frankly thinking about anything at all, I heard myself saying thanks to my body for taking such good care of me. And in that moment, I felt decisively at peace with myself. It was really nice.

Collages by Emily Zirimis and Krista Anna Lewis.

body-essay

  • Ashley

    I think it’s taken me a long time to get here too but, I’m there.

    On Saturday I ate an entire pizza. I put it in the oven, took it out, put it all on one plate (it was a full size Trader Joe’s pizza) and then ate the whole thing while I watched Wife vs. Secretary and life was good. The Tuesday before that I almost puked in a spin class. And I was so proud that I got through it.

    I care about being happy. I care that I work hard and I’m STRONG. I’m pretty and I’m smart and it doesn’t matter that I’ve never worn a bikini. My rolls and what people think of them are their problem.

    Proud that you’re there too! #longliveourrolls #solidarity

    • Aydan

      YES, we ARE strong and the great thing is that we all go through these phases and they can sometimes just even last days at a time. I swear on Thursday I was unhappy with the way I looked and by Saturday I felt like a sexy bombshell. Did anything actually change in reality? No — its a state of mind and learning how to appreciate our own selves both physically and mentally is just so so important!!

  • i don’t know about this. on one hand, i applaud you for embracing your perceived weak spot. on the other hand, i do think it’s tone-deaf, and this post does very little to address the real problem many of those “arms up” instagram commenters were upset with. we’re talking about fashion, an industry entrenched in and supported by an unhealthy body image ideal. that’s the context of the rolls post, you know? man repeller is positioned as a safe space for all bodies, for all types. and for someone with much larger, and many more, rolls than you, leandra, it can hurt twice as hard to see that typical fashion body image reinforced from man repeller. you didn’t post it from your account, it was the site’s account. it was the site’s voice, saying: that these rolls on a thin body is something we’re ashamed over is a given, now let’s do the heroic work of loving ourselves. if we’re operating from the assumption that those two rolls on a thin body are shameworthy to begin with, how do you think your readers who have much bigger bodies are going to feel?

    this isn’t to say the instagram post and this post aren’t motivational, or that you shouldn’t feel free to talk about your insecurities. but man repeller is supposed to have extended far past just leandra medine’s blog. and i think this site does have definite problems embracing fashion for girls who are not thin, although strides have been taken. i mean, in the man repeller book you talk about wanting to lose weight to, as karl largerfeld said, look better in clothes. i think you have a responsibility, as a place with an ethos of self-empowerment through sartorial expression, to examine how your imagery and your words facilitate and engage with fashion’s body image issue. what this would look like is a fair discussion of why people were upset with the post, some consideration of your readers’ complaints, and your explanation — but this post is one big defense that ends like a carrie bradshaw voiceover.

    okay, okay. this was just a disappointing post to read, in my opinion, but i am sure many other readers will have loved it.

    • OK, so I am one of those readers with a much bigger body, boobs, rolls, feet … almost everything on me is bigger than on Leandra :-).

      I think there must be a space in the Universe to talk about wanting to love one’s body (and succeeding in it). This is a much larger principle than Skinny vs. Big, as Leandra pointed out. It is also very relevant to the holy world of fashion: let us celebrate all the different body types by allowing all of them to talk about their struggles. All of them.
      And frankly: since we are all pushing towards “Big Is Equal” these days: I want my “body equality world” to include the possibility for skinny people to talk about their self-image probems. Otherwise, fighting for an all-inclusive world is not done yet/wasn’t worth it yet.

      This article is especially on point because it offers one of the best things (IMHO) anyone can achieve: to be thankful for having a body that can Do Things.

      • gah, i was afraid my post would be taken like this. please re-read it because i did not say i don’t embrace the celebration of skinny bodies. i absolutely believe we need to celebrate everyone. i didn’t ask her not to say her piece — i said that i wish she would have included a discussion of her readers viewpoints’ instead of easily dismissing those who were hurt. all i’m asking for is a fair discussion of her readers’ concerns, i am not advocating for her silence. i think there’s a responsibility for any fashion platform that operates on a basis of self-empowerment to really question how they’re playing into the facilitation of the thin-body ideal.

        • Andrea Raymer

          I think a lot of the issue with this piece comes from the reader knowing what Leandra looks like. I think the sentiments she is expressing are fairly universal and the outcry comes from people knowing what she looks like and not allowing her to have insecurities with it because her body type is seen as ideal. I have definitely felt everything that she is expressing despite having an extremely different body type. I have spent my whole life surrounded by people much smaller than me expressing their insecurities and always started to resent them. However there are other things in my life that I struggle with and most people would kill to be in my position, that doesn’t make my feelings any less, it just makes me feel like I am not allowed to express them, which is exactly what is happening here.

          • honestly, i would have thought it were tone-deaf if the man repeller instagram account posted the image of ANY thin body lamenting it’s rolls. so i’m not really sure what you’re going for with that.

            i also straight-up said that i applauded her for embracing and discussing her feelings, so i am in no way, again, in no way advocating for her silence.

            i am asking: why not make a fair stab at addressing the criticisms? put in a paragraph about how the fashion industry is built on shameful feelings like these, insecurities like these. the tone of the post is really dismissive toward her readers who disagree, and the sheer amount of negative comments in the instagram post alone show that a lot of readers did have problems with it. this isn’t her personal account – and this is where her identity comes in. man repeller is a community, right? well if a significant amount of community members were bothered by something, i think there’s a responsibility to at least offer a paragraph where she really addresses their concerns.

            again, yikes: good for her for documenting her struggle with her rolls, good for her for embracing them, i think it’s a great message and think all body types should be encouraged to feel the same. but this post is really dismissive of a lot of voices for whom this site is usually the exception from the norm.

        • First of all, I am sorry for having exposed only that which I found critique-worthy and not dealing equaly with everything you mention. Much of what you say is true or at least shared among many of us, but I find some of it is undeserved: yes, MR is about celebrating all body types. It is also a place where individual contributors write personal stuff. So if one of them wants to talk about her personal struggle (rolls) and add a universal dimension to it (we should love our bodies, because), she should be allowed to. An average reader is supposed to be able to differentiate voices in a narrative (like author vs. narrator, institution vs. individual etc.) and if not, try hard to obtain this skill, so as not to think everything remotely mentioning one’s personal circumstances is directly directed at oneself.
          Also: I really dislike the world in which I am constantly reminded I could suffer if a tiny person says this and that about herself, because I am not thin, but surely prone to think everything dealing with body has to do with me. It doesn’t. I don’t.

          • word. good counterpoint. i’ll offer this, though:

            1. leandra isn’t just one voice of many. the other writers do emulate the patterns, cadence and tone of her confessional style. she’s the HBIC, and the founder and face of the site. her voice carries much more weight than amelia, even though i like amelia a lot.

            2. the instagram account is basically her second account. it does not really post confessional images like that for any other writers or employees. and she HAS a personal account, but she sent it out thru the site. a site which exists for, and because of, the man repeller community. all i’m saying is that if a significant amount of community members had a problem with the image, i think the blog should be considerate enough of its community to address their issues in a fair way. because it wasn’t just her personal account, it was the voice of the site. just add in a paragraph, leandra 🙁

          • This is a very interesting general question you are raising here, concerning the responsibility to address issues that come up because of one’s writing. I don’t have anything helpful to add here (as a blogger, I would decide to react if I thought I had to, but would deal with every such situation individually, not generally, meaning I think one is allowed not to answer even though many voices raised a topic – this is just my personal opinion) – but it certainly is an important issue.

            On the whole, I would prefer for Leandra to be able to retain some opportunities to just be herself, not exclusively the institution (MR) she has created. I would ask angry readers to learn to differentiate – it is an important skill and useful in life in general.

            Oh and, Leandra: I read somewhere no woman can sit down without the rolls to appear. 🙂

      • Andrea Raymer

        Doing things with you body is so important when it comes to learning how to love it. I am certainly not thin and I definitely don’t love my body most of the time. However, the more I use it the more I appreciate what it does for me. on the days that I sit around all day not leaving my apartment (thank you unemployment) I feel such a separation from my body and the physical world in general. When i start to feel like a floating consciousness i start to hate my body more. If i go for a run, or even just a long walk i start to feel more like “this body is me and it does so much for me, how can i not appreciate it.”

        Frankly, watching the olympics has strengthened that thought process in myself. I see these people with so much drive using their bodies to accomplish their huge goals and I want to feel some of that.

        • My favorite moments are when my muscles get warm and feel like … melting … Things get especially … orgastic 🙂 while hiking: warm, supple body, moving as of its own, the smells and sights of living nature, peace … maybe thoughts flowing freely or not at all … *sigh*

      • Kay

        Agree so much!!

    • Leandra Medine

      Hi friend — thanks for taking the time to produce such a thoughtful response to the article. Am consistently pleased to find that the conversations we have down here are respectful but still feature a bunch of diverse opinions. I definitely see your point re: reinforcing the body image that fashion has set, and that didn’t get past me when I was writing so really, I did a poor job getting my overarching point across which was that EVERYONE has their shit, right? Big, little, rich, poor, happy, sad … etc, but specifically among women who are wont to scrutinize themselves.

      Being told that what you perceive to be a “problem” isn’t actually problem almost stings as much as being told “you have every reason to be happy,” when you’re suffering from, say, depression. My thinking is such that we all deserve to say it, whether or not we’re heard. Sometimes it’s enough.

      I know that we’re living in an of making sure we say and think the right things and appease the public opinion and in many ways this is a fantastically important era because of the progress we’re making, the sort of things we now cannot tolerate as a community that were perceived as completely normal as little as ten years ago. But I’m wary of watching as our opinions are scrubbed clean of their scuff, because without putting something like this out there and hearing from you that I sound tone deaf, this opinion runs the risk of remaining what you’re advising Man Repeller and me against, right? Sure, we can argue that I should have consulted the writers around me before throwing it out there (they had similar opinions) but part of why I adore this community is because we talk it out together, it becomes our conversation. Your idea + my idea = new opinion and that’s a wonderful thing to be making together.

      I do still stand by the sense of freedom, looseness, just general ability-to-take-a-deep-breathness of how I felt. To think about something I have disliked about myself as something instead that I love felt great. The sentiment extends beyond my physical appearance. It’s all about the inside mushy stuff and actually “mothering myself,” which sounded delightful when I threw it out there, but which I didn’t get until now. But I do very much appreciate what you’re saying to me: that MR is supposed to be a safe space for opinions, shapes, sizes — anything and everything you want to throw in here, and I do hope that because of these sorts of threads and conversations — your taking the time to write this out and my spending as much time thinking through this response as actually writing the initial thing — it is just that.

      • Claire

        I completely agree. Everyone has their stuff to deal with, no matter their disposition. BUT imagine Meryl Streep beating herself up over thinking she’s a bad actress – you’d sympathize and she has every right to feel bad about that, if that happens to be the shit she has to deal with. But for her to broach the issue publicly would seem absurd and delusional, and unfair and tone-deaf towards the struggling actors who have never gotten recognition, are never being complimented for their perfomances, and can barely make a living off of their acting. And that is a bit of the feeling when you bemoan your two rolls when sitting down. I love you so much and think you have every right to talk about if and think that only because other people might have it worse doesn’t automatically erase your issues, even if you’re grateful. Thank you for publishing artcles like that. Loved to read.

        • Leandra Medine

          Super duper fair and well-heard point.

        • Lily

          I have never commented on MR before, but I wanted to chime in because I really don’t understand your comment, Claire, and the example you gave of Meryl Streep. So if I understand you correctly, having ‘succeeded’ at something in a public way (whether acting or being an accepted size) negates your opportunity to speak publicly about the fact that said ‘success’ might not look like it from where you sit? I don’t see how it is ‘tone deaf’ to say ‘I get what this looks like from the so-called outside; here’s what it looks like from the so-called inside’.

    • Alexa

      I completely agree. I voiced a similar opinion on the “monocycle” podcast-type thing that Leandra posted last week, I even used the word “tone-deaf” too. I think Leandra needs to step back and see how her words come across to non-thin people, if she thinks that we matter as readers.

      • Well, I for one thing, don’t feel well when the overall sentiment is all non-thin persons want to have their feelings considered at all times. Not at all well. I want people to at least occasionally feel free to talk about themselves only, without worrying what it will do to other people.
        I am the one to deal with any feelings and thoughts I may have about my body and while I’d hit back if insulted, I don’t consider other people’s stories about their bodies to be automatically related to mine. Why should I? I also allow my husband to complain about the bad things happening to him as a male, without thinking “Oh but I’ve had it worse” all the time, let alone saying it. It is his right to tell his story and get a proper listening, without my thinking only about myself.

        • Alexa

          Was the objective of Leandra’s post to only alleviate her own body issues and empower nobody else? If so, I misunderstood. I never would tell someone to keep quiet about their issues because someone might have it worse. My statement only applies if the objective of the post was to help her readers. From what I understand, Manrepeller aims to include diverse voices, but if I am wrong, then I am wrong. If I didn’t think manrepeller would ever listen to my voice and take the criticism to construct more cognizant articles, I wouldn’t have commented.

          • Well, that (last) assumption is certainly correct 🙂

  • Camilla

    I’ve gained a bit of weight recently and have become more and more annoyed when my friends complain about their belly fat. I think because even though everyone has their “stuff” most of us understand what the perceived ideal body type is. So even though my friend doesn’t think my rolls are gross, if she is saying hers are gross due to being larger than the ideal, then by default since I have larger rolls they are gross.

    I don’t think everyone has a responsibility to watch what they say because they may make someone uncomfortable. However, I do know that I actively watch my words. Scenario: you and your friend are wearing orange shirts, two different ways to say you don’t like your orange shirt : “orange shirts are disgusting” or “I don’t feel good in orange right now”. One is more probable to upset your friend.

  • Quinn Halman

    I just can’t remember the last time I felt beautiful

    • Leandra Medine

      THINK REALLY HARD. Where were you? What were you doing?

    • Hannah Finnigan-Walsh

      Surely, at least, it was when your profile photo was taken ❤️

    • Mariana

      I can’t remember either. I guess I don’t see myself as beautiful but I can see myself as cool, stylish. Like someone told Iris Apfel “You’re not pretty, and you’ll never be pretty. But, it doesn’t matter. You have something much better. You have style.” I’m fine with that 🙂

  • Abby

    I don’t love my body. I weigh more than I’d like and I don’t feel cute or pretty in clothes because of it. However, my number one life goals are to have fun and be happy and I find happiness in not going to the gym if I don’t want to, eating dessert if I feel like it, having that extra piece of pizza/cheese/whatever even if I don’t really ~need it~ but I want it, drinking wine without counting the calories, and all kinds of other things that preclude me from dieting in the way that would give me a body I would be proud to show off. So, I just stopped thinking about my body as a love or hate kind of thing. I wouldn’t be here without it, so I appreciate it, but I’m a lot more than what I look like and I experience a lot more things in life than just worrying about my size, rolls, ability to look nice in clothes, etc.

  • SHANA MARIA VERGHIS

    Why, is there are a sale going on for new ones?

  • SHANA MARIA VERGHIS

    Why? Am I not supposed to?

  • SHANA MARIA VERGHIS

    Why? Is the morgue on the look out for a couple of spare ones?

  • Stephanie

    The point I took from this post is that we view ourselves through the harshest mirror of all. Not always accurate. It makes me think of how a younger version of myself thought I was “fat” and now that I look back at those pictures I think “wow I looked great!” Also I agree with alcessa who said we all get the rolls when we sit. Yep!

  • Vickee

    It’s so insane that so many women have such strong opinions about other women’s bodies. How about we all just focus on our bodies, love our bodies and ourselves and leave the image of other women, whether in the media or our personal lives, out of the conversation.

    Leandra, it is your right to love, to hate, to showcase any and everything about yourself you want to. This goes to all women. Regardless of the industry, of those IG models, or whoever is in the spotlight, it’s not their duty to make you feel good about yourself or reassure you that your body is okay. It’s an internal thing. So lets just go on about our days <3

  • risci_travieza

    As I come closer to my 30s …. Eeek! I’ve been constantly thinking about my body as a ticking time bomb. I’ve always been skinny, skinny legs, skinny arms, but with D’s for boobs and a nice little pouch for a tummy to boot. Very oddly shaped, frustrating to dress! Which sucks because I love clothes. But while I’ve always been self conscious about my body, my love for food was always far greater than the tummy I always hated , until now. Now that I know my body is close to reaching its peak when it comes to burning calories easily without necessary hitting the threamill for hours, I find myself constantly denying the bag of chips I once would just gobble down with no remorse. It sucks. But it’s okay! It’s okay to freak out about something regarding your body others might find so silly to worry about. As you said Leandra we all have our hang ups regardless of our body shape . And yes, this site is mainly fashion driven, and yes the industry pushes a body image that is not a reflection of our nation’s actual body size, but it’s like asking “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”
    A lot of people want to point the finger to the fashion industry as the reason why many people especially woman hate their bodies. But what about the food we consume, the microwaveable garbage our governments have approved as safe for consumption? Or the fried everything we like to devour? how can we expect to look a certain way if we chose to eat trash. We are what eat after all. And in my opinion the problem is way deeper than body image. We need to focus on body health, but that’s too much work, am I rite?
    I’m extremely grateful for this site, because Man Repeller has managed to stay true , no matter how much backlash some posts might get sometimes. But it is what it is, you do you !

  • Leandra- THANK YOU for writing this piece. I was so happy to read your thoughts on this topic in addition to last Friday’s Monocycle. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too. I’m also trying to flip my narrative.

    I was born with a bone disease which caused my legs to be bowed. I was treated for it throughout my childhood, and my legs are much straighter and stronger now. As I finished growing I had a surgery to help straighten my legs a little more but my femurs are still visibly bowed. My bones being shaped like a set of parenthesis causes my thighs to look wider too. My thighs have always been a point of my insecurity. For years, I only worn jeans to cover them up. In college I started to feel more confident about showing my legs, but still felt like I was putting myself on display for judgement. I’ve always feared people looking at my legs and wondering what was wrong.

    A few years ago, I had a severe fracture in my tibia. My disease makes it really difficult for my bones to heal naturally, so I had to have a titanium rod placed into my tibia. I no longer felt pain and I could walk normally again. Two years later, the strain on my bones caused another fracture but this time in my femur. Less than a week later, I had another surgery where they placed a specially shaped titanium rod into my femur. After this surgery, I felt pretty unbreakable. I have 11 scars from the waist down now. These surgeries have made my bones stronger, but more importantly they made me a stronger person. Wearing dresses and cut-off Levi’s makes me feel strong, because now instead of hiding my odd shape I can feel proud and thankful for what my legs have overcome.

    Right now I am healing a third fracture in my other femur. I’m optimistic that I will hear news that I don’t need a third titanium rod. But, even if I do, I know from experience that my scars make me a stronger, more self-loving person each time.

    At 25 I’m finally starting to be thankful for the body I was given, bowed legs and all. It’s really tough on days when my mind wants to compare myself to other’s bodies. I know there will always be days when it’s harder to look at myself in the mirror and think “perfect”, but flipping my narrative helps me have happier self-loving days.

  • Lilli

    Honestly I think if we were able to see ourselves through our partners/mothers/fathers/sisters/best friends/colleagues eyes we would all be happy!

  • Caro

    I just really admire you for always speaking YOUR truth.

  • Hannah Cole

    I genuinely started to cry as I read this, biting my lip so hard as I sit at my desk at work to stop tears from leaking everywhere.

    That whole idea of loving your rolls because of the memories they bring and the reasons they are there – I need that. What’s the point in so much self-hatred when life is so short. We may as well enjoy the things we love, because so much else about the world is truly shit.

  • Hannah

    I implore all readers to think of Leandra as just a human and not Leandra of Man Repeller because in the end that’s what we all are. Experiencing and feeling a lot of the same things and that’s what’s so great about Man Repeller because you see it through the brilliant and incredibly relatable writing about just getting through the day and other tittilating things obviously and although in this life it is inevitable that the spotlight lands on some whose words carry a lot of weight, they should still be allowed to speak their minds just as you all do in these comment sections. Not only that, I don’t agree that just because someone’s opinion may have some “scruff” to it, they should keep silent to spare someone’s feelings. The world would not be progressing the way it is if that was the case. We need scruff in our lives but most of all we need perspective and that’s what Leandra is offering so take it or leave it because it’s hers to have and yours to either accept or just move on from.

  • Kiki

    I’d like to introduce an extra point of view – about the assumption that ‘feeling beautiful’ is the only thing that can make women happy. The general idea is that women’s looks ARE their identities, that looks define you. When we are young, we have so much control over our appearance that we are led to believe it is somehow our own fault if we don’t look perfect, that Not Model Pretty = Failure. Then there’s the ‘damned if you do’ thing: I feel Leandra is getting cornered for being beautiful in this thread, and I’m calling bs. Every woman deals with these issues, and Leandra has every right to post her honest feelings about it.
    I’m now in my fifties and I’m an average-looking person of the sturdy milkmaid variety. Always was, despite years in the magazine industry and having all the info at hand. My personal attempts to somehow become skinny started when Jane Fonda and her damn stripey leotard made us all feel bad about our stomachs in the eighties. I’ll fast-forward you some 35 years and reveal that it never came to pass (well, sometimes, almost).
    But these days I have the benefit of hindsight, and it’s a great thing. You turn around and you see it all in slow-mo. The many average-looking people who struggled and made a great life for themselves. The ones blessed with beauty who struggled just as much. People who fit in, people who stand out, people who like me are doomed to remain outliers forever, but learn to embrace it. People get jobs, become successful or not, have children or not, get cheated on and divorced or not, and in the end physical beauty is not a real factor in any of it. I also know women who passed away too young (by the time you turn 53, you know many of those).
    Now I look at my own body and I see something that is happy to carry me through life without question or too many demands, and these days I find myself insanely grateful for it. Yay, working legs for jumping about, how amazing are those! Years of clubbing and only a little bit of tinnitus! The stomach of a smiley Buddha, and someone by my side to rub it for good luck! I still love fashion and beauty, for their own sakes, whether they look good on me or not. But their standards don’t define me, and they shouldn’t define any of us.

    • Junglesiren

      I love this, and agree fully…. being 55, I’ve seen a lot of what you mention.

  • BK

    I like a lot of the points in these comments about including a broader diversity of voices in these sorts of conversations, but something different upset me here. I think we all need to remember that this conversation was started around Leandra’s actual body, not some abstract academic point – she openly posted what she considers to be one of her physical flaws and how she’s come to genuinely love it, and the comments coming back to her weren’t constructive or supportive; many were nasty and disparaging. (“you’re just a stick”, “anorexic”, “unsettling”, etc etc – yes I read through the entire comment feed on that post – why do people post that sort of nasty shit? What do those sorts of comments achieve? Wouldn’t it be more constructive to say something like “hey I feel you, I don’t like my third nipple/inverted knuckles/knobbly elbows/height/whatever but I’m working on disliking it less too”?) Why should she be obligated to answer to bullshit, when ManRepeller has been from the get-go a website oriented entirely around the notion of women marching to the beat of their own drum and loving it, pro-blocking out the haters and loving thyself? Just because she has decided to actively love her own body doesn’t mean by default she doesn’t like other body types. Remember that Leandra’s rolls weren’t the point of this article; that she loves them is the point. Self-love is the point. (Leandra: I’ve been really unpleasant to myself about my body in recent weeks for no real reason and this article helped me remember to take it easy on myself, so thanks, pocket friend)

  • julie

    my goodness, lovely Leandra, you’re going to be fine, just fine. Our lovely selves decline, sag, wrinkle, flab sets in. It’s worth all our best efforts to stay healthy and strong, but decrepitude is a reality as we get older. so what? We’re best off if we can just get past it to the good stuff-the love of a mate, having healthy parents (for me, healthy children), and enjoying our time.

  • Tori

    I grew up real chubby. For a long time, all I could think about was how “fat” I was; when I lost weight, I could still only think about how “fat” I was; today I’m “thin” and can still often only think about how “not skinny” I am. My thin friends have negative body issues too, though: I’m thinking about how chubby I am in general, and my skinny girlfriends are thinking about the specific things they dislike about themselves– what I see Leandra doing. It sucks. My best friend has no fat on her body save for perfect boobs and ass, yet is maybe even more consumed by her desire to have a perfect bod than I am– she is so tortured by what she hates about herself that she mentions getting lipo pretty often and it hurts my soul! The “perfect body” is a super-present ideal that I think everyone has some kind of relationship to, and I don’t see how it can ever be a healthy one. My struggles with my body are different from Leandra’s, and of course it would be easier for me to think that because I’m not as thin as her, my self-image is more unfortunate or troubled than hers (like, “I have the real problems here”), but that just isn’t true. I guess what I’ve learned from this is that anyone who seems like they have the industry-standard image probably struggles with some of the issues other girls do… and maybe that should tell us something about what we’re doing to ourselves.

  • Danielle Turney

    When I saw that Instagram post I thought she meant rolls like bread and took a front-facing photo by mistake. I AM NOT BELIEVING YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY, LEANDRA. SHOW ME THE BREAD.

    • Kellen Winters

      Who gave this one a mic?

  • kristina

    Hiya! Maybe I’m late to posting here but I just wanted to get a few things out. I’m perhaps older than most of your readers (I don’t know the demographics), I’m 43. I have a child. I have a mummy tummy pouch that hangs a little low from a c-section. I now have an older body. I’m not aging backwards like JLO. I eat pretty well, I try to enjoy life, I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should. I have the piece of cake. I buy the shoes. My body is a vessel for the swirling cacophony inside of me. What I’ve learned is some days I don’t even think about my body. I dress it and go about the day. Other days I hate all of it. The well endowed Mad Men Joan cleavage, the skin that is perpetually a teen, the short stubby legs, the red hair. I hate those parts for no real reason other than social norms tell me I should have had my body frozen from the neck down at 19. Those norms have and are changing, but I don’t think it will be something that is ever wiped from social filters or from female dna. I schooled in fashion and no matter how wonderful my ideas were received, often someone more fitting of a ‘fashion person’ was chosen to voice them. I hated my body on those days too.
    However, I know I am not just my body. None of us are. We are all trying. And I know raising a daughter, I have been mindful never to give her any idea that her body is less than, no matter it’s size. Her inside is far more interesting. Because even when we look at those rolls and might momentarily wish them away, they are not a definition. They are not the end all. They are an imprint on this world. Large and small what we really need to do once we get a handle on mostly loving out bodies, is to extend that loving to all bodies. Minds included.
    Today I love my body. Tomorrow it could be different. We just keep trying. On the day, in the moment. And that’s what, I believe, Leandra was getting at in her article. <3

    • Verena von Pfetten

      Hi Kristina, Thank you for sharing these lovely thoughts. It’s a real mixed bag of readers at MR, which is why I love it so much. (I’m 33—sometimes I feel old, sometimes I feel like a gd spring chicken. Either way, I love it.) Your daughter is a very lucky girl.

  • Michelle Li

    I don’t love a lot of things about me and I always feel bad complaining about it. I only have a few people that I feel comfortable complaining to because I’m insecure that others will see me as being ungrateful. I super agree with this article. And that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other people for better or for worse, or at least we should try our best not to. It’s easy to use other people to make yourself feel better or for worse and I think it’s a noteworthy goal to not do either. This mindset about not comparing was a big leap I took and it helped me redefine beauty. The show Girls and my art history class have helped me in realizing that we should stop comparing. Girls because everybody’s body is diverse and beautiful in their own way even though they all still have their insecurities. And art history because of my many hours of studying Greek and Roman sculptures. Those are things that comfort me about my body and not because I’m comparing myself to them but because everyone’s body is so different and beautiful in their own way.

  • Katie N.

    Late to this party but HI.
    So today I was at the hairdresser getting a haircut. It seemed like she put a lot of bleach in my hair and the whole time while I’m sitting I’m freaking out thinking about what if my hair turns out bad and looking at other people with amazing naturally straight hair instead of my curly hair. My hair is my achilles heel and fyi it turned out great (I lack faith in hairdressers), but it freaked me out how much was weighing on it turning out good or not. I started to think about what/where I would go to get it fixed and how I would explain it to my boyfriend etc etc.
    Stupid sounding stuff, I know. I relate to this quote in the article:

    “You know, maybe I’m late, but I’m beginning to realize that confidence doesn’t come from losing weight or straightening your hair or buying new clothes or getting a nose job.”

    I like it because aside from loving to shop I always go on sprees when I’ve gained five pounds. And the fundamental belief that we need to be “fixed” or “changed” isn’t just you. The following is a quote from a anthropological essay about the Nacerima Tribe. If you’ve ever taken Anthro 101 you’ve read it. Spoiler alert: Nacerima spelled backwards is American, but I think it probably extends to other cultures. Anyway:

    “The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease. Incarcerated in such a body, man’s only hope is to avert these characteristics through the use of the powerful influences of ritual and ceremony.”

    In summary, we’re naturally ugly and need to change it.

    In the past when people talk about body issues they have tried to phrase imperfections as “acceptable” or even “exceptional.” I love that you’ve changed that narrative. It’s almost like you’ve stepped away from the conversation of whether or not it’s okay and instead have just said “it is.” And that’s the beauty in it.

    If you’re interested:
    http://www.ohio.edu/people/thompsoc/Body.html

  • Grace b

    I found my wedding dress over the weekend. It makes me look AMAZING. While I regularly wear clothes that I like and I think I look good, I love love how I look in this dress. It was the first one to make me smile. And I’m at my heaviest weight. And I may still lose a few before the big day. But I have never liked how I look in a garment more. Thanks for this thought provoking piece Leandra.

  • Ryan Monaco

    I’m really thankful for this post because it comes at a much needed time; I am deep in the throes of struggling with an eating disorder and coming up on my one year “anniversary” to when it fully came to fruition. I have had issues with my body for many years and a terribly dysfunctional relationship with food for as long as I can remember. I never thought I would find myself in treatment for an eating disorder as a twenty-five-year-old male, but here I am.

    I often look to Man Repeller for these sorts of insightful tales and I read your (Leandra’s) book when it was first published, where I learned about your own struggles. That really opened my eyes to see someone who I view as the “perfect body” and made it real and it felt like I wasn’t alone for the first time.

    Today, I played the podcast version of this post for my psychotherapist. She and I discussed it in detail and I explained to her how much of my life I am missing out on by hiding and succumbing to this terrible disease. I never understood eating disorders and the thoughts that come with them until it was too late. We discussed how nothing positive has come with my getting thinner: my life really went up in smoke, and I mean SMOKE. I was forced to leave my apartment on the Upper East Side, move back in with my parents (only to Upstate, New York, but it’s still not Manhattan), withdraw from FIT, quit my job and leave everything I wanted behind. Every day is a struggle, but posts like this make me feel that much better and realize that EVERYONE has their shit.

    I have never commented on a post and I hate that this is time I chose, but I love Man Repeller for the fact that it is a safe community and I always look forward to reading thoughtful pieces by all of the writers, (and of course, I adore the fun, fashion ones, too!)

    Thank you for talking about this important issue that affects everyone.

  • Kelsey Moody

    Experience over vanity! Self peace n love, hear hear!

  • I’m really late to this conversation, but guess by the length of the comments here (both in numbers and in word count) I’m guessing people have something to say. My only late addition to this conversation is this: why do we assume that only overweight or “heavy” women get to participate in the body positive conversation. That’s extremely narrow-minded. The body shapes of the MR team are diverse, so while sure MR is about about fashion, it isn’t JUST about fashion models.

    Leandra has every right to feel negative about a part of her body, as well as every right to grow and come to accept that. No matter your size, shape, or whatnot, you will have things you hate about yourself, and hopefully you’ll have a supportive group of people to help you get through it.

  • Billee

    At the risk of being painfully honest, these are “healthy people problems”. Try living with an autoimmune disease that makes you question daily if you will love or hate the body that turns against you. Yes, I know that when you’re healthy one of the things you take for granted is that your body actually works “for you”. What a privilege. From my vantage point worrying about a minor perceived roll in the stomach – and justifying it that we all have our shit is simply self indulgent. Yes, I was thin my entire life. My illness at times has caused me to be downright too skinny with size zero pants falling off me and salespeople at Saks saying “you look fabulous” and I answered in shock “this isn’t fabulous, this is illness”. Get over it. Be grateful your body serves you. How disgraceful to be unaware how fortunate you are. But I suppose its the human condition to take health for granted.

    • Dani Mackey

      Yikes. I’m at a loss for words but do think stifling a discussion on self love and body image is six steps backwards and maybe even three to the side but definitely none forward.

  • Sophie

    I love you Leandra but I feel as if hearing this from you is a little patronizing. I’m not of the mindset that women who’s bodies are thin do not have real problems, but this whole article reads as if you’ve never known the feeling of being restricted by the way your body looks.

  • Junglesiren

    I guess everyone has their “shit point”, huh. We see what we see in the mirror regardless of what others see. Very few other opinions matter if we think there is something “off” about our body.

    My body is great. It was only in my 50s that I realized it. At 55 I can do a back bend, the splits, kayak at speed and choke a man to death with my powerful thighs (and that’s sexy too!)…. No, it’s not a body everyone would compliment but I don’t care because it’s in fantastic shape… and it is not my “shit point”.

    My brain is my personal “shit point”. After having a craniotomy, radiology, chemo, steroids, seizures, weird meds and other fun stuff including plenty of doctors fiddling with it, it’s a real problem, not just Mr. Neurosis turning his ugly head telling me I look bad. I am bad.

    The body is vulnerable in many ways. You never know when you’re going to have a real problem with it…. so enjoy it while it’s healthy regardless of how fat or skinny or short or too tall you are. Enjoy the fuck out of it.

    Sorry girl. Your body is your body, what you hate you hate but god damn this is weird to read coming from a hot piece of fashion like yourself. I’m sure you are sincere but it comes across…. unlike you, but maybe that’s just me. Someone else will get more out of this article than I. In the end, I think it says more about women’s body neuroses in general (part of the female DNA) than anything else. Too bad men don’t deal with this shit. And hey, I dig you anyway and think you are super sexy… even with hour massive, unsightly rolls! (shielding my eyes from their hideousness!)

  • Sam

    It’s nice to see even one woman fighting off the body image issues that are forced on us from all sides (I’m aware it happens to men too, but it happens to women a LOT more often). (Cis) women have that pouchy shit on their abdomen to accommodate a potential baby bump, which is why we all get rolls when we sit down. Some people have it more than others. While I get the “tone deaf” complaints from many readers, everything is relative and I don’t think it’s helpful to tell Leandra that someone else has it worse so STFU. Bigger rolls =/= more valid feelings.

  • Billee

    Thought this was a “safe space” and offering a different pov was ok. Attempting to inject a dose of reality. This is a luxury problem. This site weeks ago wrote about the plight of communities suffering demonstrating that loving fashion doesn’t equal shallowness or being out of touch. Get a perspective-if you have health, love, food and shelter you’re in a damn good place. And btw – let’s take responsibility for body image issues. We can choose what we read, watch, and believe.

  • J

    Hey Leandra, I loved this post. I know many women feel opinionated about what other women’s bodies look like, and who should be allowed to feel insecure about themselves, vs. who should be able to express body issues. I hope I am not assuming anything, but as a fellow woman currently wrestling with fertility issues, loving your body takes on a whole other element and dimension. It is hard to love the “utility” of one’s abdomen and hips when they currently aren’t fulfilling their biological function. This infertility struggle has caused me to define and redefine not just my relationship with my body, but my femininity. So Word. I know you didn’t bring that part up in the article, but if you are anything like me in this, it is there, just one more thread you are trying to untangle in your identity and body image. Hug and fist pump, sister!

  • kduck

    You’ll find this odd, but I always wanted those types of rolls on my tummy. To me, those are “thin person” rolls. From what I’ve seen, the thinner you are (up to a point, let’s be realistic here), the more “rolls” you get because it’s just skin bunching up. I’ve got bulgier-bulges, so I get like one or two big ones instead of the cute little belly creases.

    All about perspective, eh?

  • B.A.D style Adriana Barar

    Yes, but I do want to lose a bit more. It’s hard to stay in shape when you are not actually born thin

  • AS

    Super nice and the feeling is great when you get to that place of acceptance and love for your body. I remember having the feeling once as I was walking to the beach to go surfing that I actually loved my body, not because of how it looked but because of what it does. It has legs that can walk me to the beach and a body that can enable to me to (try to!) surf and even though it’s a little larger than it should be and it should definitely be taken better care of, it works. It’s mine and it’s whole and it works and I am very thankful for that.

    The thing with these thoughts is though, that they don’t always stick around for the long haul. The underlying message is the same and they’re great when you’re in that motivated state of going to the gym, loving your body, working out not to lose weight, but just to be stronger. But what happens when that motivation slips? How do I now at a point where my lifestyle has done a complete 180, motivate myself to get back up in the morning, hit the gym before work and not feel like a fatty? That’s the real question on my lips – how to love my body, consistently 🙂

  • Ciccollina

    Thank you so much Leandra. The road to self-acceptance is long and arduous, and I just want everyone on this comments thread to know that no matter what you have, you will always struggle to love and accept yourself and your body. I know it’s hard to believe and incredibly frustrating to accept, but it’s true. And yes, the women that you are frustrated by work in the fashion and beauty industry and yes, that proliferates a sense on inadequacy in our culture, but I truly believe that all Leandra was trying to do here was share a small epiphany she had about her stomach rolls* in the hope that she might help someone else to accept something they don’t love too.

    *Girl, those are NOT rolls! That is skin! Argh!

  • Áine Hegarty

    I’m so late to the party on this article but I feel compelled to respond. I believe some of the criticisms towards this post seem unfair– Really unfair. A lot of it reads as people lashing out because they feel certain negative ways about their own bodies– like they are somehow turning their problem (with themselves or the media) into your problem. I think what you did and what you continue to do is very brave. I think about your article (almost infamous it seems) about why you don’t wear make up and other places and times where you have referred to your appearance in a loving, accepting way and am encouraged to find the places in me that are truly strong enough to do the same. There is something truly liberating about liking yourself exactly as you are. And what’s easy for one person to accept might be difficult for another and no one gets to decide what someone else should feel comfortable about. Thank you for sharing this with us.