It’s 2019, and there’s a ton of preaching when it comes to being “body inclusive,” but truth be told, the world has made it really hard to go enjoy a music festival without putting all these implications of what a female concert-goer should look like.
I am overweight. I know exactly what it takes for me to not be: 7 days a week, 2 hours+ of gym time. And that was my body at 19. Now I am 30, my metabolism is slowing down. So it might take even more, including developing a fucking eating disorder (which I do not suggest doing – but to illustrate my point…). In the age of Instagram Influencers, people want you to look a certain way, be trendy, and for a lot of the time, they want a physically fit, attractive person.
The flip side, here’s me, who’s built a multi-media empire over the last few years, I’ve got the *following* and I am an influencer or affiliate for multiple brands, have photographed dozens upon dozens of celebrities, and have been internationally published for my writing and photography. So there’s this significant amount of pressure to “come correct” and look good, especially if I’m trying to create content in an aesthetically pleasing location such as a Music Festival. I’ve never been a materialistic type of person in the sense of clothing brands. Give me something plain and probably black and I can rock it. But for a festival, you’re supposed to step it up. Brand names, signature “lewks,” and judging by the festival I’m currently recovering from, a lot of your ass hanging out. #OOTD
One of my business partners is unique looking. Crazy awesome hair, thin, sporting Nike and gets a good amount of attention. But it’s extremely clear when someone steps to her for a photo and she pulls me in frame, how disappointed they become. The look on their face goes from “getting this dope picture of a chick” to “well, I’m not editing that one.” And I know the face oh-so-well from being an established photographer – the sense of disappointment when you’re shooting a subject and people are added into the mix in and changed your entire perception of the photo that’s being shot. And not to be sexist, but if you’re a man running around with a camera at a music festival, and you’re not shooting the acts in the photo pits, there’s a 33 1/3% chance of you being there just to shoot attractive women.
The sad part is, we as women do it each other, even when we’re super insecure about how we’re looking. I can’t tell you how many times our group saw people where we questioned if they had friends because if they did, they wouldn’t have let them walk out of the house like that. And it’s an absolute shame that this is how the world has conditioned us to view females, even though WE ARE FEMALES: That their worth is stemming from what they look like and that somehow automatically deems their value. Take Iggy Azalea for an example: Because she’s usually overtly sexual and is constantly twerking with her ass out, that has desensitized the media and individuals reading the headline to not care as much when her nudes got leaked by a photographer. The gut reaction for many is “Well, she’s almost naked all the time anyway. Now she cares?” That chain of thought is absolute trash, and we need to change that train of thought in order to be better as human beings.
For so many years, women have been perceived as eye candy, and while women have made strides throughout history trying to gain the same rights as men, we still find that not only are we constantly objectified, we also have begun to objectify ourselves to get where we need to go. I cannot tell you how many women you will see smuggling themselves on stage at a show or getting in with the artist, just because they are dressed provocatively, or flirt with the right person at a festival or concert. And it’s because they KNOW they are hot and they can use it to their advantage. I have even had women admit it to me that they’ve used their looks to get them into places, gain positions for jobs, or have had me add a service to book on their website: “Arm Candy” at $150 an hour.
With females that aren’t as desirable to the general population, we have to work a million times harder to get where we want to go in life because we can’t use our looks to get us in the door. And though people like me (individuals vastly insecure about how they look, more so due to knowing what the public thinks) know we are extremely smart and have a ton to offer with talent and knowledge, yet sometimes we’re avoided, denied, refused, or treated differently than a hot girl would be. This includes experiences such as not getting accepted to festivals once they check out your profile (I’m over 40K in following, so it’s not like it’s my follower count), or getting one product from a company to promote THEM AND THEIR BRAND, while they send your hot best friends (we pilot tested this) multiple items to shoot photos with (1 in which has significantly fewer followers than I do, under 1K).
(Liquid Death, by the way, is not the company that snubbed me)
So, due to this constant conditioning of “not being enough,” there I was, pre-festival, sifting through tons of clothing items at multiple stores, and finding nothing but crop tops, hot pants, and tight leggings, and trying to fit into a world in which I do not, for the sake of looking Insta-ready. It nauseated me. And granted, I am not morbidly obese, but from where I’m standing, I’m only going to be “enough” while fat only if I somehow turn into Ashley Graham overnight. My business partner also said to me once, “Use it to your advantage, people love that Plus Size Movement. Look at Ashley, look at Lizzo, these women taking charge and being proud.” But you’re always going to be labeled as the “Plus Size XYZ,” not just labeled as a standard leader in your industry, and who really wants that tagline? As if somehow you don’t fit in with the rest of the models, influencers, XYZ-ers, so you get your own category. There’s always going to be that descriptive precursor, just as it is with women over men, like rock bands with chick leads: Female Fronted is not a genre of Rock Music, no matter how many times it’s used.
And before there’s some asshole that says “If you don’t like it, change it.” Yes, thank you Captain Obvious (sarcasm) for your wonderous wealth of knowledge. This truth bomb has COMPLETELY cleared up my perception of my life, and boy do I have to thank you. *Raises middle finger* – Yes, I fucking know if I don’t like the way I look, I, and I alone have the power to change it. But the sad reality in all of it, which is the point of me expressing this whole damn thing in the first place, is that I shouldn’t have to become physically pleasing for others in order for people to treat me like I matter or am worth it. And I know I can’t be the only one that feels this way. That the worth of a person shouldn’t be based on their body, but on what they have to offer the world. But that’s a battle for another day.
This story was written by ACRONYM and was previously published on our former sister site AKRENIM.