I remember when I was younger, probably middle school-aged, looking through a magazine with a picture of Nicole Kidman sitting in a pretty dress at some awards show. She looked beautiful as always, but there was a big, giant red circle drawn over her left thigh. The small article didn’t focus on her bright blue eyes or pretty smile, or even her accomplishments as an actress; it was bringing attention to and mocking the dimpled skin on her crossed leg.
I think that was the first time I’d heard anyone talk about cellulite. Because of this, my first real impression of cellulite was that it was a bad thing.
That’s a trend that’s continued to this very day in our society. If you have cellulite, you must be fat. If you have cellulite, you don’t have sufficient muscle tone. If you have cellulite, your body is ugly and you are lazy.
Does that not make you angry? Honestly, it infuriates me, because it’s all lies. And when I imagine my little girl flipping through a magazine someday and seeing a successful, beautiful actress having a normal part of her body pointed out and denigrated, it’s as offensive as the magazine saying my daughter’s body isn’t perfect just the way it is. It’s insulting that these magazines airbrush celebrities to give women and young girls the impression of how a normal body is supposed to look. It’s insulting that magazines and websites highlight the flaws in a celebrity’s body, flaws they say are inexcusable due to a celebrity’s status or money, knowing the majority of their demographic of readers don’t have the money or luxury to fix those things in themselves (not that we should; I’m just saying, it’s hypocritical). Why should we care if rich and famous Sally so-and-so has a wrinkle, or cellulite, a lumpy tummy, or small boobs? Why is being like us common peasants such a bad thing?
It’s not. And I’m going to tell you why your cellulite is not something that should be airbrushed away.
90% of women have cellulite, regardless of their shape or size.
NINETY. PERCENT. OF. WOMEN. REGARDLESS OF SHAPE OR SIZE. Here, allow me to give you a visual:
Cellulite may increase with weight because fat puts pressure on your connective tissue. As someone described it to me recently, it’s like pushing play-doh through chicken wire, but even if you are super fit or super skinny, you can still have cellulite. That means that small 10% of the population who doesn’t have it are actually closer to being freaks of nature than the rest of us. While secretly (or not so secretly) we’d all love to be in that category of “freaks of nature,” that doesn’t change the fact that cellulite is normal (Say it louder for the people in the back!) 2% of the population has green eyes, while the rest are usually shades of hazel, brown, and blue. We may envy someone for the shade of their irises, but it doesn’t make us feel embarrassed of our own eye color. Why? Because that’s just what we were born with. It’s normal, same as our body’s proclivity for cellulite. Honestly, what right do these magazines and websites have to portray a feature in 90% of women’s bodies as some kind of unforgivable flaw?
Cellulite means you’re real
Almost every single model, actress, or singer you see on magazine covers or advertisements has been airbrushed. Thank goodness there’s a movement building momentum where companies and magazines are facing increased criticism for airbrushing and photoshopping, but the majority of them are still getting away with it—for now. I want you to go do something. Go look up photos of women in swimsuits anywhere from the 1920s to the 1970s. While eating habits and food quality were comparatively better back then, those women still don’t have toned legs across the board; a lot of them have little belly rolls either because of the fit of their swimsuit or simply because that’s just normal.
Look up untouched photos of Marilyn Monroe, the woman with a reputation for being the most beautiful woman in the history of the world. Her thighs touch; her arms aren’t incredibly toned; she doesn’t have six-pack abs. She’s just like us.
Even in photos that aren’t the best quality from these eras, it’s easy to tell these women most likely have some cellulite on their booties and thighs. In the days before airbrushing and photoshop, women were photographed just as they were (with the exception of make-up, of course). I enjoy looking at vintage models and celebs far more than I do modern-day models and celebs, not because it makes me feel better, but because it’s real. These women are real and just like us.
I wish magazines and companies today would resume this practice of no airbrushing or photoshop. It’s unhealthy, not just for their readers and fans, but for the models and celebrities on whom they impose it.
Expensive treatments and wraps aren’t necessary to get rid of cellulite.
Nope. A lot of cellulite can be gotten rid of by diet and exercise alone; perhaps most of it. In some rare cases, all of it. Of course, you can pay for treatments and wraps, but just like with weight loss, it’s bound to come back if you don’t make healthy changes to your lifestyle. Just like with everything, it’ll require work. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
It could be your mom’s or dad’s fault, so blame them.
I remember when I was younger, complaining to my dad because I thought my toes were too stubby and round. I wanted the long, thin toes I’d seen a model have in a pair of toeless heels. And I’ve never forgotten what he said:
“Who has long, skinny toes? Those are the freaks, not people with toes like yours.”
Having cellulite can often be caused by genetics, which means it’s completely out of your control. You can reduce it with diet or exercise, but you probably won’t be able to get rid of it entirely. And why would you want to? That’s like saying, “I hate the shape of my toes, so I’d rather I didn’t have them.” Learn to love yourself as you are. If anyone gives you a hard time for how your body naturally looks, tell them to hit the road, Jack. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
Cellulite just means you’re a woman
Okay, so there’s a small percentage of men that get cellulite, too. BUT being a woman means your chances of having or getting cellulite are inescapably higher. It’s just a normal fact of being a woman, same as having breasts develop or your hips widen. There’s nothing to be ashamed of about it. It’s just a fact of life that society and the media has persuaded us we need to “fix.” No, we don’t. Not unless you just want to try. But having cellulite isn’t going to change you for better or worse. It has no effect on who you are as a mom, a wife, or a person. It has no effect on your strength of character or strength of body. Anyone—including those writers in women’s magazines—who tries to convince you that you’re unworthy because of this thing they deem to be a flaw is the one with a problem to fix, not you.
I hope this article helps you to love yourself and your body a little bit more. If the thought of changing your body, whether by gaining weight or by losing weight, is debilitating to think about, remember these words by C.S. Lewis:
“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
Whether its cellulite or chubby toes, your body isn’t who you are. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take care of ourselves (our body is a temple, after all), or that it’s always wrong to make improvements on things we aren’t happy about, or that we shouldn’t try to make changes to things that are negatively affecting our health, but sometimes, we need to accept that things just are the way they are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And if anyone tries to tell you any differently, you can tell them to suck my big toe.
(No, no. On second thought, don’t do that. Some people are really into that.)
If you have cellulite, comment below, “I have cellulite and I love my body!” I think you’ll be surprised with how many women have it as well.
Until next time,