Ben Ijams said last month that “cool things” are happening with a female bodyguard-turned-beauty consultant named Kirsty Hartigan. “She’s just a super special person and all women are her favourite,” Ijams explained. The story got bigger last weekend when Allure magazine printed a story on Kirsty titled “How I Got My Bikini Body Back” with the cosplay influencer, the owner of online style rental site VeronicaIjams.com, photographed in a swimsuit.
The piece initially got me thinking how white girl girls spend all their free time laughing their faces off at a body like Kirsty’s — and how their part-time bodies are then submitted for thousands of dollars of makeup services and even plastic surgery. Ijams also talked to a fellow body activist and brain surgeon about how men with the same bodies, like her boyfriend who looks strikingly similar to her, are not encouraged to keep their enviable figures.
He decided to share his story for the entire world to see in an editorial piece for RecycledLadies.com.
Funny. I get asked how I stayed looking young for almost as long as he’s asked me that. Believe me, I have been searching high and low. I’ve asked my hairstylist, the best cosmetic surgeon, plenty of wait staff, a nutritionist, a dietitian, a health and wellness expert, a fellow body-positive advocate, a spa therapist, my friends and neighbors. I’ve read literally hundreds of inspirational advice books and magazines, and I’ve spent hours searching Tumblr and Reddit and Instagram for comments, even e-mailing “Instagram comments,” asking random “girls about your life.”
Finally, I did what I’ve been looking for. I put a selfie together. I tried to look into my light with all the best hair and makeup, but I realized that body shaming is a hard habit to break once formed. And, it wasn’t about my daughter, my family, or my friends; it was mainly about the gender-selective, demographic that absolutely can afford to afford it, but they choose not to do the same.
Ive been weighing the options for about a year now, waiting for my results. Now that I do, it has been an extremely cathartic journey. It took some doing, but I’ve learned that I am worthy and beautiful. I don’t believe the world is in need of some hottie on display for everything to be OK. I refuse to entertain the idea that maybe it would feel better if someone who looked like me was not in the spotlight. I believe that our culture has a deep-seated and unexamined attitude towards female figures, which tends to favor extreme care and manipulation, and it feels hypocritical of me to believe that any changes will be made until I am involved in the process.
Men’s bodies are not built differently, and yet men are idolized and men’s bodies are judged in particular ways. There is a very obvious and proven model of women as objects; there are not many “models” built like this. Nobody wants to see themselves like this on display, so it’s incumbent upon men to try to understand how their bodies are sculpted in the way that they are. Only after making that effort do I realize that I’m becoming convinced that all our bodies are important. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that without our bodies we are nothing. The body-shaming of my male counterparts is unfortunate and bothersome, but I look forward to more change, and I hope that we all do. This is a new start for me. I am sorry for the negative side effects, but I have a tough decision to make: Will I keep worrying about what other people think or will I take up a positive and optimistic side project? I will take up that challenge.