Meet Lindsey Vonn.
You may know her as one of the most accomplished alpine skiers of our time. You probably cheered her on when she won gold in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
She has shattered records in her sport and pressed on past severe injuries.
But why is she in the news right now?
Because trolls are picking apart her bikini pictures.
Here is what she posted on Instagram this week:
The caption reads:
“I’ve posted quite a few swimsuit pics lately, which is scarier than it seems. Even as an athlete there are ruthless comments and media stories that tear apart my body and I admit it sometimes hurts me. I’m a normal person and sometimes I slouch, my stomach folds over, my cellulite shows on my butt, or I don’t fill out my swimsuit top just right….But, I always remember how my body has helped me achieve amazing things in my life and I am proud of how strong I am. I’m not a size zero and that’s perfectly fine with me. One thing I can promise all of you is that I never Photoshop my photos and am proud to officially never had any plastic surgery of any kind. No Botox, no fillers, no mini surgeries. Literally nothing. I am 100% natural and 100% Lindsey. So to anyone who is feeling self conscious or down about their appearance; stay strong, stay healthy and love yourself no matter what the haters say.
Special thanks to all of you who have been positive and supportive… lets keep up the culture of body positivity going! ❤️🙏🏻💪🏻”
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
One of the most athletically accomplished women is being reduced to body parts.
Lindsey Vonn is a woman whose career was dependent on her body.
Competing at her level requires rigorous exercise and meticulous attention to nutrition. It’s your life.
So, I can only imagine how she must feel.
The fact that she needs to take to Instagram at all is maddening.
Here are a few of the vile comments being made about her body:
- “She thinks she’s hotter than she is… fat knees.”
- “I’m in my 60s and birthed two kids and look better.”
- “Put that fat ass in a tent.”
You read that right. The crazy Internet *ssholes are criticizing an Olympic athlete’s knees.
There’s a quote from Sonya Renee Taylor — award-winning poet, activist, author, and leader — that I love.
“Living in a female body, a Black body, an aging body, a fat body, a body with mental illness is to awaken daily to a planet that expects a certain set of apologies to already live on our tongues. There is a level of “not enough” or “too much” sewn into these strands of difference.” — Sonya Renee Taylor, “The Body is Not an Apology.”
When it comes to women’s bodies, how are we ever going to “win?”
There’s something we must acknowledge in this story.
Lindsey Vonn is a cisgender, young, thin white woman. She’s blonde. She fits into the majority of the boxes for America’s “beauty standards.”
Vonn is a woman who many would view as privileged in terms of her body, and yet, she still says, “I’m not a size zero,” as if this is a fault.
If women in bodies like Lindsey are shamed at this level — bodies deemed “desirable” by culture — how do fat women and older women and women with disabilities and women of color possibly ward this hatred off?
I wish I had a clear answer for us, but the best I can do is look to the experts.
Look to the leaders and the voices in the body positivity movement.
I was glad to see Lindsey encourage others to “keep the culture of body positivity going.”
While social media can certainly be a place for hate and anonymous trolling, it can also be a place where the body positivity movement can grow. My feed is filled with plus-sized women and it makes me emotional at times.
I feel like I finally see myself.
I would encourage you to get educated on this. On social media, we get to feed what we want to support. Follow women with bodies of all shapes and sizes and colors and abilities. Follow leaders in this space.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Sonya Renee Taylor (also snag her book)
- Sarah Rae Vargas (I highly recommend her YouTube channel)
- Jessamyn Stanley (She does amazing yoga videos for plus-sized bodies!)
There are many, many more and that’s something to celebrate.
We need to normalize women’s bodies.
I love a filter as much as any girl, but are they doing more harm than good?
We need to see stretch marks. We need to see cellulite. We need to see what women’s bodies actually look like.
If we see women looking like actual women, then it rewrites our “beauty standards.”
Support women who share real pictures of themselves. Like body positive accounts. Read more stories like this one.