I was at the hairdresser, and we were discussing the length of the cut. To establish this (in the least awkward way), he chose to swoop his hands around my chin/s – much like a magician about to pull the rabbit out of a hat – and avoid the fact that I was sitting there with a triple chin hanging over the hairdressing cloak. So I thought I’d help him out and say “Yes, well, I’m not too picky about the length, but let’s say it can be under my double chin”. His hands stop mid-air, his eyes become big and round and a bit of red creeped up his neck. He gives an awkward little laugh and finally says “uuhh ok”.
I couldn’t help but think his suprise came from me mentioning my double chin in such a matter-of-fact way (not whispered into the shame bucket where dirty little secrets about our bodies belong). I’m pretty sure I caught him off guard.
What did the moment feel like vs what you look like
I’ll admit, I haven’t always been comfortable with my body and my chins. I avoided it in selfies by angling my phone higher, and in group shots, by leaning forward. Because if I lie to myself just a little bit longer, surely my life will get better. I won’t hate by body so much if I hide it in photos. And if I don’t see my double chins, surely, they can’t exist.
But this is exactly what we’re taught to believe. As Virgie Tovar (a fat activist and much better writer than me) points out in her article about double chins:
“There’s good reason we’re afraid of our double chins. We live in a culture that is openly hateful toward fat people. Friends, family and social media reward us for appearing as close to the (thin) standard as possible in photographs.”
Tovar moved past her own anxieties, by embracing her chins in a photo series. Concentrating more on how it felt in the moment, rather than how the photo made her feel about herself. Associating her double chin with positivity, she started to see herself in a different light.
About a year ago, I decided to let go of my anxiety about my double chins, and instead, embrace them. I let people take photos of me as I was in the moment (wheres before, I was hyper aware of the camera and jumped at the first sign of it turning my way, contorting my body to hide all my insecurities).
I studied the photos afterwards and actively challenged my initial negative feelings at what I was seeing. It got better. And better. I’m at the point now, where I don’t even see my chins. I see me in the moment and how I felt in it – knowing that this is how other people see me. And that feels pretty good.
The more you embrace it, the better it gets
I would like you to challenge what you see in the media, and particularly on your Instagram feed. Double chins are portrayed as a sign of ugliness, as being unworthy, and as a sign of failure. DO NOT buy into this. Instead, post a photo of you and your chins – show everyone, but mostly yourself – that you are sexy as hell, double chins and all.
And this wonderful quote from Jameela Jamil:
“And I love my chins for being such faithful friends to my biggest laughs.”
View this post on Instagram
4 years deep with this hilarious man. I used to hate the top picture so much because of my “double” chin, and now I realize I was such a dick for that. I’m so happy in that picture and I’m so glad that wonderful day is documented. And I love my chins for being such faithful friends to my biggest laughs. My inner bully is such an arsehole and every day is an exercise to murder it. #freethechin #letabitchlive #letachinlive #thankyoubody #babechin
Some extra reading:
Feminism 101: What is Fatphobia?
Fat and all that: Falling in love with my Gut and Double Chins
Why we need more representation for folk with fuller faces and double chins
Body positive photographer double chin | Amsterdam photographer | Portrait photographer