Cellulite Mythology

I was a little awestruck by the response to my cellulite post last week. I knew cellulite was a bit of a hot-button issue, but didn’t anticipate the depth of people’s passion on the subject.

I received numerous comments here and on my facebook page that were some variation of the ‘cellulite is caused by toxins in processed food’ theme. The suggestion being that anyone who has cellulite is simply not eating ‘cleanly’ enough. For shame. Lets explore this, shall we?

Industrial food production really didn’t come into existence until the first half of the 20th century. Since then, it’s spread across the globe, but even today there are small pockets of humanity that still consume traditional diets. I’ve gathered some images of women, most of them historical, that indicate that cellulite existed before industrial food production.

These first few images are photographs, taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, of women from various pre-industrial cultures. Not only do these images indicate that cellulite is normal, they indicate that women eating traditional diets and living traditional lifestyles had a wide variety of body types, dispelling the myth that pre- and non-industrial bodies were ubiquitously lean. None of these women were eating twinkies. You can click on each image to see the original source.

1938

 

Then there’s the Rubens women. Rubens produced his paintings in the 15th century, LONG before the advent of industrial food. The women he painted embodied the ideal of feminine beauty at the time, and they clearly have dimpled flesh indicative of normal cellulite:

 

 

The Jarawa are one of the last cultures left that have resisted contact with the outside world. They live on the Andaman Islands in Indonesia and still eat their traditional diet of seafood and fruit, supplemented with tubers and meat from the jungle they depend on for survival. You can see more amazing photos of Jarawa culture here:

So, who wants to tell me that the women in these images are just eating too much junk food and not exercising hard enough?

The women here represent a wide variety of healthy body types. Different shapes have adapted to meet the challenges of different environments, but there is no one ‘standard’ healthy ‘pre-industrial’ or paleolithic body type. Or one standard ‘healthy human diet’. The variety found in the human race is breathtaking, and stepping outside our preconceived notions of what is ‘healthy’ and ‘attractive’ opens up a world of richness and beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

96 thoughts on “Cellulite Mythology

  1. I really appreciate what you are doing to help women’s body image issues. Those women in the pictures are very beautiful. Cellulite should not be something that women feel upset about, it is very common and has been for a long time.

    However, these pictures are not history a very long time ago – they are all recent history, when the invention of the camera was created and also the invention of bad food had already been around for several generations, whereas white people were eating crap.
    People will flock to where people will flock, but unfortunately this is not the truth.
    The 17th century brought more health ailments than today; people died of ailments frequently and barely had access to proper nutrition, for example scurvy and many other sicknesses. The dark ages did not boast of opportune health, however they did have better body image than we have today and women with curves were regarded as beautiful and cellulite was not frowned upon nor were small penises, but the “fashion” changed in time. Eating disorders were still very prevalent in the dark ages, where binging and purging was seen as a natural custom after gorging on huge feasts, also there were vomitoriums in Rome. Ever since Roman times people have been eating badly, but there have always been exceptions.

    Eating was generally not healthy then or now. In the 1930′s (you have pictures around that time frame) people had a lot more health issues than today because they weren’t as immune to all the unhealthy foods of society. Many tribal people died due to colonization.
    You are also wrong about the Jarawa. There diets are not healthy or traditional anymore. They were colonized just like every aboriginal tribe, introduced to alcoholism, disease and white man’s unhealthy foods but they are known for eventually fighting back and trying to regain their independence, however, now they have schools and regular contact with outsiders as well as food markets…
    Aboriginal peoples of all things suffer the most health problems due to the fact that there diets were so clean before they were colonized, and colonization ruined their health once they became more dependent on white society. It is a false claim to say that the Jarawa are an untouched tribe.
    Unfortunately, I could debunk all these pictures. They are set in time frames where eating was not healthy and food industrialization was already in progress.
    You may try to disagree with this, but this the truth, unfortunately it is not written in white man’s history books.
    Farley Mowat documented the fur trade in Canada, however and has some very disturbing facts in his book, which is the only time I think I have seen that a white man has ever documented the truth. I love his books, they are very interesting and he had such an amazing past. In “No Man’s River” he explains about one of the last untouched Inuit tribes during that time and how he watched them die from all sorts of things like the pox, be raped, treated like monsters and then be forced to starve to death because they had become reliant on guns and white man’s food during the fur trade. During long winters when the animals did not come, trading posts refused to supply any food to them and they instead watched these people starve to death, because many of them refused to use guns to hunt and their “savage hunting weapons” had been taken away. If they hadn’t been forced to lose their traditions, they would have been able to hunt enough food for survival…
    So the introduction to white man’s food in the olden days has always made people very sick and even die, and that can be as simple as to the fact that native people never ate wheat or dairy and did not have agriculture until white settlers showed up. That’s why First Nations and Native American people have more health problems than most people. Then the growing of crops became popular for many tribes and the nomadic ways ceased.
    Even if you were to go back in time a long ways back, health wasn’t always ideal. Our tribal ancestors had very tough lifestyles, surviving on edibles in nature and meats, and weren’t always able to eat enough to survive.

    And I have to disagree with these unfactual statements on cellulite. I do agree that it is not something to be ashamed of. It isn’t unattractive, in fact many men have found it appealing since a long time, and it doesn’t mean you are unhealthy or fat, but it is caused by blockages in the fatty tissue which build up toxins that come into our bodies through foods and environmental factors which is why young children don’t seem to get it, that is the reason why dry skin brushing and detoxing is so effective to cure it, as well as rebounding (jumping on mini trampoline), running, massage, drinking lots of water, hydrotherapy, cranberry juice, eating healthy organic foods that you can digest easily, and making sure you are not constipated. When you change your lifestyle and switch to foods that your earliest ancestors used to eat instead of the white man’s diet and incorporate a long dedicated time of skin brushing and detoxing, you will notice improvement. It takes up to 6 months at a time to lose some toxins that have accumulated in the legs.
    Obviously, cellulite moves around. It has to be broken up and then released. There is a lot of factual evidence proving it is toxin related. There are also a lot of people that have gotten rid of it by following these steps or are getting rid of it with these steps. Also, any naturopath will tell you that this is true.
    For me, I first got cellulite when I was anorexic and extremely underweight so the claims that it only effects fat people are wrong. Despite my terrible diet and the bad things I ate when I suffered from disordered eating, I didn’t gain cellulite until I started engaging in alcoholism. After about 3 weeks of drinking daily and being extremely dehydrated is when I first noticed the cellulite appear, thus I know it has to do with toxins… It takes a really long time to purify the body after significant toxin intake. It is not something that you can just take a few detox pills or do it for a few weeks and never again, it is something that takes many years to clear up, especially with how toxic our environment is and thus detoxing must not be aggressive, nor should it be temporary, it should include healthy lifestyle changes that are permanent.

      • How so? That is the truth about history. You can’t possibly say people were eating healthy in the dark ages all the way up to now. Your opinion is not based on facts. Those pictures were all taken in times when eating was not ideal.

        • I presented scientific evidence in my original post (the one this one is a follow up to). You’ve provided none.

          • The idea that food consumption was healthy in the above time frames is not factually correct. And no, you did NOT back up any of those claims by scientific evidence.

            Truth about the Jarawa:
            “^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Francesco Cavalli-Sforza (1995), The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution, Basic Books, ISBN 0-201-44231-0, “… Contact with whites, and the British in particular, has virtually destroyed them. Illness, alcohol, and the will of the colonials all played their part; the British governor of the time mentions in his diary that he received instructions to destroy them with alcohol and opium. He succeeded completely with one group. The others reacted violently”

            Basic history of food habits in the olden days:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8848874
            “The Renaissance period in Europe saw many dietary changes due to imports of new ingredients from the Far East as well as from newly discovered Central and South America. Maize and potatoes rapidly conquered European markets and because of their easier cultivation and higher calorie content, displaced grains such as wheat and rye. Drinking habits too changed, when tea, coffee and chocolate were introduced, first as strengthening medicines, later as ‘delicatessen’ in the aristocratic British and French cafés. These new foods and beverages may have helped diminish the periods of famine typical of Medieval and Early Renaissance times. In the 16th and 17th century, new diseases were described that were directly related to dietary intake. Ergotism and scurvy, particularly, sometimes decimated whole populations in rural areas or at sea. It was not until the 18th century that scientific research elucidated the cause of such diseases and helped us to understand the importance of a balanced diet”
            As for the 1930′s…
            http://www.sirc.org/timeline/1930.shtml
            A lot of sickness and disease in the 1930′s: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3468301278.html
            If you did you research in the first place, you would have realized that nutrition was not proper in the time frames of your pictures and many people were just as sick, if not more, than they are today.

    • Sabrina, Both of my daughters have cellulite on their little tushies. One is 10 months old, the other is 2 years old. They are very active, eat healthy diets, and are babies!! To say young children don’t get cellulite is false. I have seen most young kids (girls) with cellulite somewhere on their bottoms or legs (I work in the nursery of my very large church with lots of kids- changing diapers). This is normal.

      • Well I wouldn’t know what to say to that. That is not the norm, at least not where I am from. I have never seen a child with cellulite and never have heard of it before. Never happened to me or anyone I ever knew when I was a kid either.
        According to information in scientific communites cellulite is generally thought not to show up until puberty or later. Here’s a random source to prove that I’m not making this information up.
        http://www.livestrong.com/article/280435-cellulite-in-children/
        If you have a problem with it, go bark at the people who do these studies to find out all this information. It makes no sense to debate with me about it, I didn’t make any of this information up, but I will gladly provide you with sources to correct information. I’m just an ordinary person appreciating the fact that the author of this thread is helping women with body image issues, and just trying to point out the fact that the time frames of those pictures were not historically known to be times of great nutrition like the author is trying to present.
        Also, I personally follow naturopathic medicine. It saved my life so I will defend it rightfully.
        I didn’t invent it, but it has helped cure me of disease and many health ailments, AND the naturopathic techniques I used, helped to cure my cellulite which was brought on after my drinking, so obviously it was NOT a normal body function for me. Maybe it is for everyone else in the world, who knows, but I do NOT believe for one second that the majority of people are truly healthy in this world. I think someone would have to be awefully brainwashed to believe that they can get away with eating cheeseburgers and still be considered as healthy. I enjoy the fact that I could actually do something about it. It’s not something I just have to submit to. I have never had good confidence in myself. I like the fact that women should be able to be okay with having cellulite, but I enjoyed getting rid of it personally because it does make me feel better. I work out lots and having dimply skin made me feel not as good about my muscles because I couldn’t really see my progress under that.
        I just think it’s okay to be confident in yourself no matter what you look like, yet it’s also silly to disclaim things that are actually proven by fact and that have worked for hundreds of thousands of people, such as naturopathy.
        I also think it’s silly to dismiss health issues in our society. Illness is a major problem in our society and has been for centuries – it isn’t wise to just turn a blind eye to it. Rather, it would be much wiser to educate oneself before reading claims like this on the internet.
        Did any of you actually take the time to look into the background of these pictures? I’m guessing not, and that you just believe whatever you read online, that is written from someone without a credible certificate. Did you take the time to research the history of those time frames? If you did, you would realize that history was not ideal in regards to nutrition and societal illness.
        It would be absurd to base this conclusion on pictures based on historical time frames where people had very poor diets.

  2. Do you have any reliable sources or literature you can refer us to on exactly what the cause or reason for cellulite is on the biological/molecular level? Also, have you come across any reputable sources indicating ways to prevent or slow the progression of the appearance of cellulite or is this really just something out of our control?

    Thanks so much for this enlightening post!

  3. Thank you for finally saying something intelligent and interesting on this topic. I am fed up with women being made to feel fixated on their looks and its incredibly sad that this ignorance still exists. This type of discussion and education is key if we are finally to feel equal in a society where no man has ever fixated over his body image in the same way we do.

    The daily mail in the UK is one example – they have a side bar on the website that is constantly filled with A-Z list celebrities with actual zoomed in pictures of all their flaws. Its actually disgusting that they are allowed to get away with this and spread this type of misery. Its worse in the summer.

    Thanks again – and may common sense prevail so that women can get on with being incredibly awesome, intelligent, loving and nurturing.

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  5. Not sure if it’s racist to say this (since I’m white it most likely is, do I feel guilty!) but the African people in the pictures look horribly bloated. It is apparent that this has also deformed their posture (look at the lumbar area.) Not exactly what I would call beautiful or healthy. I’m speaking from personal experience here, it sucks to be bloated and to have a duck-like posture. Anyway, I wonder what caused the bloating. Too much fiber? Too little protein? Some toxic stuff in their diet?

      • No, it’s definitely not racist to say that someone looks bloated or that someone is not attractive. Even if it happens that these people are black, it isn’t racist, nor is it ignorant. The truth of the matter is that even white people can be bloated, and it also deforms their posture, sometimes in the same way.

        • it’s not deformity. it’s called STEATOPYGIA

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steatopygia

          “Steatopygia is a genetic characteristic of the Khoisan and some Bantu peoples. It is especially prevalent in women, but also occurs to a lesser degree in men. In most populations of Homo sapiens, females are more likely than men to accumulate adipose tissue in the buttock region. It has also been observed among the Pygmies of Central Africa and the Onge-tribe of the Andaman Islands.[2] Among the Khoisan, it is regarded as a sign of beauty. It begins in infancy and is fully developed by the time of the first pregnancy.”

          • Hi Lisa,

            “Steatopygia (/stiːˌætɵˈpɪdʒiə/;[1] Greek: στεατοπυγία) is a high degree of fat accumulation in and around the buttocks.”

            I did not mention big buttocks nor say they were a deformity. I talked about bloating.

            Wikipedia says:

            “Bloating is any abnormal general swelling, or increase in diameter of the abdominal area.”

            buttocks =/= abdominal area

            Bloating deforms the spine because the body has to compensate for the space taken up by the increased volume of the digestive organs. I don’t see why fat accumulation in the buttocks would do the same, so there is no connection, really.

            • the women above are not bloated or deformed. also, i have never heard of bloating deforming one’s spine. care to substantiate that claim? i’ve had plenty of bloated times in my life during yrs of disordered eating and i know many who would say the same. not one of us is deformed.

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  7. Thank you for this post. I always value the opportunity to see what other women’s bodies look like, to remind me of the astounding and beautiful variety of the female form. If you ever get a chance to see the Century Project (http://www.thecenturyproject.com/), I hope you’ll go–it, too, showed me the many ways that it is acceptable for my body to look, and also gave me a sense of what I might look forward to as I age.

  8. I always hear American women complaining about getting ridiculed for having big butts. Here, it’s the ideal… being curvaceous, and having a “big butt” is considered hot. It’s always good to remember that this extreme leanness and nearly anorexic thinness is in fact not the norm. This is what airbrushing and fashion magazines try to stick down our throats.

  9. Well, one thing to note by comparing modern day women to these remote tribes (The Jarawa in this case) and to women in the 15th century is that both examples have a significantly shorter life expectancy due to disease and malnutrition. I wouldn’t base the way I look based on the way women in the 15th century and women that live in the jungle live their lives as they shouldn’t be considered the epitome of perfect health as that would be foolish…

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  12. This is a great post and I think it’s important for women to realize that body types vary, even among women eating a clean diet. Women are predisposed to cellulite by the nature of our skin’s construction but there is a little more to it. When our skin is thick, cellulite need not show through, at least not too much, depending on our size. The appearance of cellulite goes beyond toxins or junk food. It shows up when we lack certain nutrients. Women who change their diet from a deficient one to a nutrient dense one usually see some difference in the appearance of cellulite. It is so important for women to accept their bodies, but it is also important for women to take control of their healthy too – as you clearly know. And cellulite CAN be an indicator of poor health.

  13. Serena Williams wasn’t really mocked by Wozniacki. They are friends.

    “I know Caro and I would call her my friend,” Serena wrote. “And I don’t think she (meant) anything racist by it.”

    “I must add, if people feel this way, she should take reason and do something different next time”

    “‘(Roddick) and (Djokovic) do it all the time and Caro does (it) and now it’s racist.??”

  14. I am sorry that some of these images are disturbing and racist in the eyes of some…

    I would not want them taken down. I am grateful to see these images, which were a bit surprising, because I had no idea women could look like that, in a normal food environment. It really helps widen my view of what is normal and feel better about fitting in within that continuum of all shapes and sizes.

    I was made fun of and found unattractive as a young white female, in a community that valued extreme thinness and prompted anorexia in many of my peers. I felt different, ugly, and fat. Then began a long series of diets which only made me heavier. The only attention I got was from black and hispanic men, who found my curvy bottom attractive. There is so much more bad to this story, but I won’t write it.

    There may be others who, seeing this, could see that they are not damaged, they are just one body type among many, and maybe that will stop some of the self abuse that goes with the external abuse.

  15. Thank you so much for these images. I understand the history of racism and the exploitation of many of the women in these photos, but see the point you are trying to make. There is nothing wrong with the shapes of their bodies or the amount of cellulite. I am a white woman whose body shape is way more similar to these women than to anything I see in magazines. We need to see more diverse bodies in the media. I flip through magazines and think “How can I get rid of my big bootie and hips?” then see these photos and realize we all come in different shapes and sizes and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the shape of my body.

  16. Thanks for this Amber! I love these photos. You are doing awesome things for women. There is more to health and life than not having cellulite!

  17. I really like the color photo. The woman looks happy, healthy, and confident. Do you think that you could find more color photos of women who eat and live in traditional ways?

  18. I wonder about the physiology which you discussed earlier – what do you think is the difference btw tissue in thighs /glutes and other lipid -heavy areas (ie boobs, stomach)

  19. Great blog, Amber!! And another reason everyone should study a little art history (and a little anthropology, too) at some point in their lives. A broader perspective than that offered by reality television and Oxygen/Shape/Woman’s Day magazine is invaluable.

  20. Sorry for leaving two comments, but I was looking up steatopygia and found this information really interesting! Especially that it was seen as DESIRABLE, and that it was a beneficial adaptation for harsh climates.

    http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/chapter5/text5.htm:

    “Steatopygia is a genetic trait that seems to have been widespread in Eurasia during the icy pleistocene until around 10,000 years ago. It is a way of storing fat reserves (energy) for hard times. The steatopygous ice-age “Venus” figurines shown below indicate at the very least that the trait was revered and desirable in a woman. Steatopygous mothers had a better chance of surviving through winter with their children.

    In the present warm period, the holocene (started 10,000 years ago) human life became easier and the spread of agriculture (started in a few climatically favoured areas around 8,000 years ago) has made food supplies more predictable. It is noticeable that there have been no known steatopygous farming people.

    Only two living populations are to day known to still (occasionally and increasingly rarely) have steatopygous women. Both are (or until very recently have been) among the few remaining hunting-gathering societies: the Khoisan of South Africa and the Andamanese. That those two populations also have in common the rare “peppercorn hair” type (see below) adds to the suspicions that they are somehow related. If so, it is a relationship that would go back right to the development of the earliest modern Homo sapiens. That he and she developed in Africa there is little doubt today.

    That such remarkable similarities of otherwise rare genetic traits in two widely separated groups has received so little scientific attention is remarkable.

    Sharing at least steatopygia and peppercorn hair, the two groups could indeed be genetically related. Another possibility is that both groups have lived hunting-gathering lives in harsh environments until only a century or so ago and so have preserved traits that were once universal or widespread among Homo sapiens. But then, why is steatopygia absent among, for example, hunting-gathering Australian aborigines? We do not know. Steatopygia has many unexplained and unexplored aspects hinting at as yet unexplored ancient Human migrations and relationships.”

    • Thanks for sharing this, Alyssa! Interesting that staetoypgia is a paleolithic adaptation, and yet adherents of the paleo diet hold up quite a different version of the ideal paleolithic physique.

      Also intesting that some people believe staetopygia is a disorder, when it is very clearly an evolutionarily advantageous adaptation.

    • Thanks for the actually interesting and studied response instead of the usual outrage -filled TMI bloviation (whenconfronted with a subject such as this) ! I actually really love learning about anthropology and evolutionary biology & staetopygia is a new one to me thx for thesource

      • No problem, Amber! Yes, I definitely think there’s a general glossing-over of the fact that not all native hunter-gatherers were lean. Although I do see the Paleo community moving in a much more accepting direction when it comes to body shape, especially for females!

        And you’re welcome aa! I also really enjoy learning about anthropology and biology. I’m in the process of reading Weston Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration…mind = blown.

  21. OK I’ve now read through all the comments. Yes I had seen the image of Sarah Baartman before and knew about her background. I admit I was uncomfortable with some of these images. But Amber’s point is a good one about cellulite – we should just replace these fotos with ones of me – I’m a very healthy weight, size 4, 5’7″ tall, and have had major cellulite since my teens!

  22. This post has got to be one of my favorite things ever on the internet! Thank you! I basically disagree with the paleo diet for the reasons you’ve given in this post. I was raised in a very traditional indigenous village in South America. There were no stores, we hunted and fished in the Amazon for our food. We did not eat paleo! I’m so happy to find a blog that sees women’s value and health and fitness the way I do.

  23. it isn’t really that big of a deal in my mind. Somebody I once knew thought that drinking mineral water gave you cellulite. I laughed.

  24. That is not Sarah Baartman in the above photo, she died some years before the advent of photography. These images bring to mind also the paleolithic figurines of the so called venuses from 20,000 plus years ago eg. the Venus of Willendorf.

    • Yes. Sarah Baartman died in 1815, I don’t think there are any actual photographs of her. The earliest surviving photograph in existence is from the 1820′s. In any case, one of the photos I had included has been used in several articles about Sarah Baartman, so I think it’s been attributed as her.

  25. The “protuding butt” is unappealing in a dozen different ways. I appreciate that in the natural setting of that culture it is the norm, but DAMN that is unattractive. What woman wants to have a butt that looks like that? It’s like instead of carrying a child in their wombs, they carry it in their butts.

    “Excuse my butt which protudes two feet behind my spinal column but I am carrying twins!”

    • and THIS is why that image of Sarah Baartman is extremely offensive on this post. This man, is denigrating the body of a black woman, which is EXACTLY what Baartman went through up until she died. I and many black women today are still mocked because of our thick legs and behinds. I am asking again this image be removed.

      • THANK YOU! I was just about to point out how incredibly racist comments like these are. This attitude is prevalent because we live in a white-centric society where whiteness decides for the rest of us what is normal and beautiful. Hair is suppose to be silky smooth and straight, butts are suppose to be petite as well as noses, hips, etc etc etc. That has got to stop. For the love of all that is still good in this world really think before you speak, people!

        • …and here I was wanting my butt to be bigger! I don’t know if the ideal is necessarily a petite butt, well maybe only in the sense that it needs to be molded into two perfectly round orbs of cellulite and stretch mark free perfection (photoshop, anyone?) and with three easy payments of $29.95, “Brazil Butt Lift” can help you achieve that!

          Oh, marketing.. the science of making us hate what we have.

          • But the idea of “big butt” is still based on what white culture defines as big. And it isn’t as big as, say, the stereotypical “African behind”.

      • Her picture is up there displaying strong healthy woman who also “happened” to have cellulite.

        Maybe Amber doesn’t realize who she was or that she was literally a slave and imprisoned in a “freak show” in London. Her story is horrible, but anybody looking at her without knowing her just sees “amazing tribal woman with a natural body”

        I’m sure that’s the reason Amber uses her picture: she finds her beautiful. Not the caricature her life revolved around.

        • I realized before posting that, actually, several of the women in the first set of photos were likely slaves and/or photographed for the purpose of being made spectacles. It was sort of the point of the post. That women were and are ridiculed and shamed for qualities that are completely normal and natural.

      • Also want to add, just because some Neanderthal makes dumbshit comments about a womans body and what HE doesn’t find attractive — it doesn’t make this photo offensive. It makes HIM offensive.

        • No, what makes the photo offensive was that it was taken to show off the very “wrong” and “freakish” body of an African woman. Again, I don’t agree with Tiffany that it shouldn’t be here but I think y’all could stand to open your ears and mind to what Tiffany is trying to say. These images are racist in and of themselves. Steve’s reaction doesn’t dictate that. I actually think this whole thing could lend to an excellent discussion about the narrow views of the “ideal” body based largely on our white dominated culture and how the adversely affects female minorities on a level it doesn’t touch caucasian women. Beyond that it could also touch on the blatant racism evident in the Paleo/Primal movements. “Eat like cavemen to look like a hot white chick” Say what?!

          • Thank you Maggie. I would not mind te image remaining *if* the very real racist imagery of the photo can be written about. I understand Amber was trying to teach us about cellulite being real. BUT this image, for me reminds me of the very real suffering that Sarah Baartman went through during her life as a result of her body type and the problem women with that body tpe (particularly black women) face today. Steve’s comment isn’t the sole problem, but is very indicative of the problem that women with this body are mocked, harassed, and looked down on.
            Just in the past year Serena Williams was mocked by a fellow tennis plater for having a large butt, as well as, the First Lady being mocked for the size of her bottom. Even black women in the top of their field still have to contend with these racialized stereotypes that first stem from the Sarah Baartman images.

          • YES, the paleo/primal physique ideal is offensive. I’ve posted about this numerous times before. A short perusal of some of the paleo/primal forums makes it clear that for the vast majority of devotees, their primary motivation for following the diet is because they believe it will produce a specific physique. Kind of like the one in this post of mine from last year:

            http://gokaleo.com/2012/02/01/330/

          • The intent of the photographs is offensive. The subjects of the photograph are not. They are beautiful.

      • It was wrong that Sarah Baartman was denigrated for traits that were completely normal and healthy. It is wrong that women today are mocked for traits that are normal and healthy. The wrongness is why I posted these images.

        Steve is wrong. This post makes it blatantly clear that Steve is wrong. This is a discussion that we need to have.

    • I’m sorry, you seem to think that ANYBODY cares what you think is attractive or not.

      Just so everybody is clear: we don’t.

    • Steve, are you aware of the difference between an opinion and a fact? I think you must not be because you’ve stated your opinion here as if it were a fact. “The protruding butt is unappealing” is your opinion. “DAMN it is unattractive” is, again, your opinion.

      A fact would be something along the lines of: “those women have large buttocks”, or even “I don’t find those women’s bodies appealing”.

      It’s ok. You’re allowed to have opinions. You don’t always have to say them out loud though. When you say things like that out loud, people know you are a douchebag. Fact: douchebags think everyone cares about their opinion. Stave thinks everyone cares about his opinion. Ergo, Steve is a douchebag.

      • Your logic is sound. I concur. I also have a big butt. And cellulite. I think I’m hot. My hubby thinks I’m hot. Fact: my hubby isn’t a douchebag. Ergo he has a hot chick who adores him.

    • And…your point? I don’t know why anyone should care what you, a single random guy on the internet, finds sexually appealing. Honestly, more guys could stand to learn that the world does not pivot around their sexual desires.

    • I think Steve is off his rocker for saying such offensive things.

      How about we STOP giving our attention, time and energy to people like Steve and just go with life. What he said obviously stirs up some issues, is totally rude and makes some points that people have, but…ignoring douches takes their power away.

      Taking the power away from douches like him and making them “invisible” is one the first things we can do as women to stop the body shaming from others. People who don’t have power and attention can’t have influence.

      I’m also very upset because of some of the comments being made. I understand that black women have been sexualized and have gone through hell because of the fact that they’ve been and are black…and because of their appearance. I totally get that and I’m saddened by it (especially after reading some of these comments).

      And I understand that some people are still upset about the terrible ways that black women have been treated and are treated.

      But black women are NOT the only woman being discriminated against. White women get discriminated against because of OUR color too! And many other women are discriminated against because of their color, religion and more: Asians, Muslims, Catholics, Irish, Lesbians, Jews, Italians, Hispanic, South American,
      etc.

      Women’s body shaming is NOT just a black issue. It is an EVERY women issue. Instead of arguing that shaming against a black women is worse because only a black women is shamed because of race (not true – some black women aren’t shamed because of their race and other non-black women ARE shamed because of their race)…

      It would be soooo much better if we women just stood together and truly KNOW that we are beautiful no matter what. And stop the divisiveness.

      • Please point out where I stated black women were the only one’s being discriminated against or objectified because of our bodies. Stating that all women are objectified is nice and seems pretty, but it ignores the very real fact of HOW different groups of women are objectified. As stated above, white women are held as the standard. Are they objectified? Absolutely. Nobody is saying they aren’t. But trying to brush over the fact that black women’s bodies have been targets for racialized misogyny is not doing us any favors. All women of color are objectified in different ways, according to the stereotypes of their race. Trying to sweep that under the rug, under some umbrella of “all” women is very insincere.

        • It sounds like you may have some very deep feelings about black women being racially body shamed.

          But you missed my point and are focused on a more targeted and narrow point of your own.

          I stand by my own speaking points and that’s what I am focused on.

          It is NOT insincere of me to want to champion all women and believe that we’re ALL beautiful. It is NOT insincere of me to be aware that MANY women suffer because of racial discrimination, religious discrimination and more.

          You can read “insincerity” and “sweeping under the rug-ness” into what I wrote all you want. I do not feel guilty at all for acknowledging that body shaming because of race is not just a black womens’ issue.

          I won’t continue this dialogue. I don’t believe in “isms” or continued victimization and/or division between people.

          I do my work in the present and for the future…to try my hardest to treat everyone with empathy and compassion. And I teach my children to do the same.

          I will continue to champion for ALL women, black women included. And I appreciate Go Kaleo for this article and what she is doing for women.

          • “You can read “insincerity” and “sweeping under the rug-ness” into what I wrote all you want. I do not feel guilty at all for acknowledging that body shaming because of race is not just a black womens’ issue.”

            Again, I never said it was *just* a black woman’s issue. Not once did I say that. You’re putting words in my mouth to argue a point I never made.

          • “You can read “insincerity” and “sweeping under the rug-ness” into what I wrote all you want. I do not feel guilty at all for acknowledging that body shaming because of race is not just a black womens’ issue.”

            Again, I never said it was *just* a black woman’s issue. Not once did I say that. You’re putting words in my mouth to argue a point I never made. Your going by a “colorblind” philosophy which has actually shown to help perpetuate racism.
            Do I think all women are beautiful, but we are clearly different, in shape, weight, size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and yes, color. Ignoring those differences does not help women or people in general. It actually distances us even more.

  26. OK, I get you are trying to talk about cellulite and it’s natural, blah blah blah. I need for you to understand that I, as a black woman, find the pictures of the “hottentot” extremely offensive. This woman Sarah Baartman was taken from her home in Africa and paraded around Europe like some circus side show freak, for the shape of her body. Black women today, are still ostracized for having wider hips and larger thighs and butts. This is not about cellulite, but about the very real racism in these photos, and what they represent. I am not sure if you were aware of the history behind those photos, but now you know. I would ask that you remove them and find a better way to discuss cellulite, without using very racist images.

    • I could only see these photos as racist if they somehow made me look down on the woman in them. As it is, they are photos of a woman showing us her body which is not more or less beautiful than anyone else’s unless you choose to look at it that way. It is unfortunate that the Europeans in the last century chose to look down on her for her body shape, but I would hope that women of today could look at these pictures and see the beauty of the woman as the author of the article intended.

      • Sorry, this excuse is not good enough. Look at Steve’s comment above and again tell me how not offensive this image is. Black women have been mocked for our larger behinds and overly sexualized and pathologized as “sexual vixens, jezebels, etc.” as a result. So excuse me if your argument does not persuade me. But you don’t get to tell me what is racist or offensive to me or any other black woman.

        • I agree with Tiffany. Andrea, what you are going for is apologetics and it just doesn’t cut it. No sweet sentiment is not going to take away from what was done to this woman, what has been done to women like her, or what continues to be done. But I will say that I don’t view the use of these photos as racist in this post’s context simply because Go Kaleo is illustrating the differences in body by challenging body “ideals” in western (ie: white dominated) culture. It’s horrible that it opens them/us up for more scrutiny but these idiots are just proving Kaelo’s point.

          • Whoops! I have a number of typos in that post. Hope my point came across, though.

          • The scrutiny and shaming happens anyway, should we not talk about it?

            Sarah Baartman’s body was NOT offensive. It was normal and healthy. Cellulite and big butts are NOT offensive or shameful. They are normal and healthy.

            Steve IS proving my point: that physical cultural ideals are demeaning to women. Lets talk about it.

    • Tiffany, do you think white women aren’t ridiculed for their wide hips and thighs? I’ve been dealing with this ridicule since I was a teenager, and to be frank, it’s a little offensive to me that you think this is an issue limited to black women. In fact, a lot of the teasing and ridicule I’ve experienced has come from black men in very public situations (walking down the street, for instance) and has been extremely humiliating — which is why I recall such experiences so acutely. I respect where understand you’re coming from here, but please understand that this isn’t an issue only experienced by black women.

      • Sure they are, but white women do not face the same sort of institutionalized racism. White women get scrutiny, women of color get something much deeper. It’s not a contest. One is not so bad that it makes the other somehow right or less harmful in comparison. But they are absolutely not the same. There is a big difference. White women and women of color face a different level of body shaming. Beauty standards in our culture are godawful but they are also based from the white standard. This means that no matter what women of color are abnormal and even considered freakish from the get go.

        • I have no interest in trying to make this into the Oppression Olympics. I was simply expressing my own experience and perspective.

          • In my second statement I stated “women with this body type” and then stated “specifically black women” because, while black women or women of color are not the only one’s with this body, we have been the ones who have been mocked on a global stage for centuries for having this body type.

            I am not diminishing your or any other white woman’s experience with body policing, but it is extremely important to note that these images do not just conjure up sexist or mysognistic thinking when it comes to policing women’s bodies. They are also used racially discriminate against women of color.

            Truth be told, white women with these figures are more lauded in the public than women of color. Example, Kim Kardashian, Cocoa (Ice T’s wife) are given tv shows and more, in part due to their “curves” while black women like Serena Williams are mocked.

            I hear you when you say you don’t want to play the oppression olympics, but it’s not the oppression olympics to at least acknowledge, recognize, and call attention to the different ways white women and women of color are treated for our bodies.

          • I’m not trying to stir the pot, but I think you have to point out that Beyoncee and is the gold standard for this physique and she sure isn’t ridiculed for it; also Jennifer Lopez is admired for her large behind — another non-white. Kim Kardashian is technically caucasion–but I don’t think most would consider her white as in the middle america blond hair/ blue eyes white– she looks very exotic- arab or spanish. . I think the woman who plays Joan on Mad Men is the only mainstream ‘white woman’ with a big rear that is vava voomed. Otherwise, I think white women’s big booties are far LESS acceptable than women of color’s in society. This does not diminish that Serena Williams was mocked. Still, the absolute skinniest 3 women I know are black. I think they’re gorgeous, too; but I’m talking so thin that I honestly don’t understand. My good friend lisa has legs that seem to be 10 feet long and no noticeble hips– where do her internal organs fit? I don’t know, but she looks awesome in clothes so she’s always trying to gain weight at the age of 42, no less, with no success. In other words, all of us come in different sizes and shapes regardless of color.

  27. Thank you Amber… this actually brought tears. I made yet another shift in healing from my deep seeded self hatred. I appreciate this more than you know. – Kristie Longan

  28. They must have been eating too many carbs…and not the perfect paleo diet. Just kidding lol. Great article!

  29. thank you so much for this.. desperately needed now and always. we as women need to learn how to love and honor our bodies, our unique beauty, our wisdom, and our gifts.

  30. It always shocked me that people can’t see that cellulite is genetic. I can say my sister and I are luckily enough not to have cellulite, but we are not “tiny” women. We are averaged sized….and we have both eaten our fair share of good ol’ processed McDonalds!!

    • I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it sounded, but those of us who have cellulite are not unlucky. It’s just part of who we are, like having brown hair. Is someone unlucky because they have brown hair instead of some other color?

  31. Really interesting post! You’re right, cellulite is definitely a hot-button issue, and this post offers a great new perspective on it. And I can certainly attest that even very lean people who are eating very, very cleanly can have cellulite!

  32. Your blog is helping me overcome years of self-hatred and basing my value on my dress size. Thank you so much. After fifteen years of feeling guilty every time I ate a piece of toast with butter I said, “screw it” and starting eating whatever I wanted a la Matt Stone. I’ve gained ten pounds in six months but I no longer care. My husband told me last night he is loving the changes in my body (fullness in my breasts and bottom). I feel better, look more feminine and am spending time doing things I love (reading with my kids, writing poetry, learning more about my faith, doing art) instead of worrying about my figure and food.

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