What would happen if paint became a Big Thing?
In fact, what would happen if one specific paint brand became a Big Thing, to the exclusion of all else?
What if that paint brand became so popular that you were expected to use it in every room of your house? To the point that visitors wouldn’t come past the threshold if they didn’t see it on the walls of your foyer?
To the point that delivery drivers would dump your packages on the sidewalk in disgust if they peered in your windows and didn’t see that paint in your living room? To the point that people would ask you in casual conversation which brand you used, and scold you if you named a competing brand?
What if you lost friends and family members over whether your bedroom was painted in the right brand?
What if your “incorrect” preference for other paint brands made your life harder in a dozen different ways?
But how would anyone even know which brand of paint you’d used? Let’s say that this paint, unlike any others, has an unusual and beautiful shimmer to it, a distinctive look that would instantly tell anyone looking that you’d used this brand.
Except that 95% of the time, the paint doesn’t actually work. Oh, it goes on your walls just fine, but it doesn’t shimmer. It just looks like ordinary eggshell paint, no matter what you try. You invest in tutorials and watch hours of Youtube videos, apply half a dozen coats, and get…plain paint.
When you contact the company, the company shrugs and says you must be applying it wrong.
When you talk about it on Facebook, you’re met with a barrage of scorn, because your concentration and willpower in applying this paint clearly weren’t up to the task (since, after all, it isn’t shimmering).
Everyone seems to know the solution to your lack of shimmer:
> Maybe it’s because you didn’t let the paint dry slowly enough.
> Maybe it’s because you didn’t use a hair dryer to make sure the paint dried fast enough.
> Maybe it was too humid on the day you painted. Or too dry.
> Maybe you didn’t set your intent carefully enough before you opened the can of paint.
> Maybe you added one too many coats. Or one too few.
> Maybe you didn’t really want your walls to shine.
Everyone else’s paint seems to shimmer. Every lovely interior design photo you see online features shimmering paint. Every friend’s house you visit sparkles gently. You’re bombarded with advertisements for that paint brand. It’s all over Instagram. Shimmer, shimmer, shimmer.
What’s wrong with you?
Here’s what you don’t see: The friends who aren’t inviting anyone over for dinner because their walls stubbornly refuse to sparkle. The people who took triumphant photos of their shimmering home offices, only to walk into the room after a week and discover that the shimmer was gone. The Photoshop and video effects being lavished on Instagram posts and advertisements to disguise the fact that not even company-paid influencers or the company itself can get that paint to shimmer most of the time.
I trust that you’ve figured out this is a dieting analogy. It doesn’t work at least 95% of the time, and yet we’ve set up an entire hierarchy that places smaller bodies over larger ones and asks the impossible of big bodies: that they shrink to fit an arbitrary standard.
Your walls are worthy and functional, even if they don’t shimmer.
Your body is worthy, even if dieting hasn’t worked for you.
Hi! I’m Lindley.
I’m a photographer, author, cat mom, subscription box creator, and fat activist.
I help people reclaim their bodies through photography. I capture images of people of all sizes, ethnicities and genders, not just the ones whose bodies are likely to be seen in magazines and advertisements.
Every week I talk about topics like this in my free Body Liberation Guide.