Stop Telling Women to Embrace Their Flaws

“We should embrace our flaws!” is seen as a phrase of empowerment. Don’t look at your physical flaws with disdain — accept them — is what we’re encouraged to do. While the intentions of the “women should embrace their flaws” proponents are good, I protest that it’s time to stop telling women to embrace their flaws.

The reason is quite simple, really: oftentimes physical features being labeled as flaws to be embraced ARE NOT FLAWS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Let’s look at a common feature typically labeled as a “flaw”: cellulite. There are several prevalent myths about cellulite, and there some important facts you need to know. One, most women have cellulite (estimated 90% or more; men around 10%). Two, while things like strength training and nutrition can help reduce cellulite, it’s not just a symptom of excess body fat; yes, even lean women have cellulite. Three, it is not a “flaw” that needs to be fixed. It’s a normal, common occurrence, damnit.

If you asked me how I “embrace my flaw of cellulite,” I’d respond directly: my cellulite isn’t a flaw. I don’t hate it. I don’t need to fix it. It’s not good; it’s not bad; it just is. My value as a woman will not be reduced to a single physical feature. My happiness will not hinge upon having the least amount of cellulite possible. My body is strong and serves me — it allows me to engage in activities I enjoy or want to try, and I do my best to keep it healthy, mobile, and injury free. That’s what matters. I certainly have flaws, but cellulite (and other physical features) isn’t one of them.

cellulite is not a flaw

The definition of a flaw: a mistake or fault in something that makes it useless or less effective; a mark or fault that spoils something and makes it less beautiful or perfect.

With the definition fresh in your mind, telling women to embrace their flaws, like cellulite, is actually saying, “Ideally you wouldn’t have cellulite because it’s an imperfection that makes you less beautiful, but that’s okay! Embrace the things about you that are ugly and undesirable!” And that is a festering load of mind-boggling bullshit.

Other things that are not flaws to be embraced, because THEY’RE NOT FLAWS: small boobs, big boobs, wide or narrow hips, your age, height, wrinkles, your body weight, stretch marks, your nose (I say this as a woman who was ridiculed relentlessly as a kid for having a large nose, and I finally declared it not a flaw in my early 20s), skin or hair color, or any other physical feature. These are not flaws you should embrace, because they’re not flaws at all.

So let’s stop trying to fix things that aren’t in need of repair. Let’s quit declaring our individual features as flaws that should just be “embraced”; they’re not flaws. It’s not us as women that need to be fixed — it’s the language used to describe our bodies, the standards we’re told to struggle and strive to achieve, and the metrics we use to determine our worth.

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