Curvy, creepy and cringy – how not to do body positivity

body, curvy, lover

smug, curvy, loveEww!. I mean, really, FFS, eww! Everything about the ‘love letter‘ that’s recently gone viral makes my stomach turn. And no, that’s not because it’s wrong to adore your partner and want to tell everyone that you do: that can be quite cute (if sometimes an overshare).

First of all, it’s because this smug git clearly thinks he deserves a medal for being ‘feminist’ enough to find non-skinny women attractive. His wife is an attractive woman who works as a ‘plus size’ model – which actually means that she is an average size by most people’s standards, and that her attractiveness has already been confirmed by the model agency that hired her: she’s not some self-hating you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful wallflower – but he writes as though she’s immensely overweight only, brave, selfless manfeminist that he is,  he loves her anyway.

Then, there’s the usual ‘real women are not thin’ nonsense included, just to remind everyone that women’s body shapes and sizes are all subject to some arbitrary standards imposed by men, whether the woman in question likes it or not.

body, curvy, loverThis isn’t to say it’s a bad thing to be drawn to, or express your appreciation of, aspects of a lover’s body which are not the ones usually cited as most appealing. An honest and affectionate compliment on your cute toes, the dimples in your knees, your one crooked tooth or your hairy back can be delightful. But if you follow that compliment up with a whole load of self-praise about how perceptive, special and super-sensitive you are to have noticed this ‘fault’ in your beloved and yet find it adorable, your partner is likely to feel self-conscious rather than flattered.

It’s something to be aware of when writing erotica, as well: there are enough lame, derivative stories about the heroine who ‘thinks’ she’s ugly while describing herself in a way that makes it clear she’s nothing of the sort, therefore setting the scene for the hero to come along and convince her of her wonderfulness. This stuff is even more irritating when it comes with subtle-as-a-flying-brick misogynistic moralising about the heroine’s ‘natural’ beauty as opposed to her rivals’ slutty use of makeup, hair dye or expensive clothes. Sure, make a character curvy rather than the thinnest woman in the world who can still eat whatever she wants, but don’t make body shape or size an indication of personality, and please, no more stories where the main character’s non-mainstream body type is the whole fucking plot. Don’t be that guy…

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