(I realize that most of my post titles are song titles or lyrics… and I’m not sorry).
So I’m all for body positivity. In my opinion, an important part of figuring out your stuff, knowing who you are, and accepting who you are IS accepting how you look and being comfortable in your own body.
Pretty early on, I wrote about not ever being a small person, not even as a kid. And more recently being more comfortable in my skin and accepting my body for all it has to offer. Spoiler: our bodies aren’t just for putting cute clothes on. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – get naked. So why am I talking about body acceptance AGAIN? Because! It’s not something that comes easy and it’s not something you all of a sudden have and never lose. Our bodies change every day. And that means that every day we we have to work at being body positive.
Example: On Monday, I felt bloated (thanks to all the margaritas and burritos I had this weekend), and I was NOT happy with how I felt and how my body felt. I’m sure there wasn’t much of a difference physically, but I had a really hard time because I felt bloated and gross. On Tuesday, I felt okay. And when I looked in the mirror I wasn’t seeing the baby-sized burrito I ate on Sunday.
Normally, I really love my body. Sure, I’m in the middle of a weight loss journey so of course there are things I want to improve… like toning my arms and legs. But big picture: for the most part I felt good. And I thought I looked good. I was #bodypositive. That said, I don’t think I realized how NOT #bodypositive I’d been in the past or how much progress I’ve made until the weekend I went to my 5th year college reunion a few weeks ago.
When I left school in 2013 I weighed in at about 250lbs. For reference, it wasn’t my highest ever weight, but that’s just over 30lbs higher than my current weight. Like your typical college kid, I was not very active and spent my days and nights eating and drinking whatever my peers were. So at the reunion I went to a boozy brunch, and when I saw people I hadn’t seen in a while, they told me, “you look so good!”. #thanks #hairflip
While I know I’ve been doing well on this journey, I also thought part of the change my peers were recognizing could be credited to my face maturing and the fact that I definitely dress better (TBH 2009 to 2013 was not a great time for fashion). Whatever the reason, the complements made me feel good! And then… we started taking pictures.
First, I’d like to say that the brunch we’d been at had run out of food before we even arrived… so naturally I filled up on gin and tonics. Second. And most importantly… I’m not big on having my picture taken. This is exactly what I’m referring to when I say I don’t think I was as body positive as I thought.
Pictures are hard – especially when there is part of you that doesn’t like the way you look. While everyone else see you for you, we are overcritical of ourselves. And after a lifetime of focusing on our flaws, pictures are like mirrors. We avoid them. I avoided them.
Not only have I always been overweight, but I’ve also always been very tall. For a female. I’m 5′ 10″ without shoes on. My mom likes to tell me the story of when my teacher had to put blocks under my desk in second grade because I was too tall for it. Apparently I came home crying. I wouldn’t know… I assume I blacked out from embarrassment. Anyways, being big and tall meant that I took up more space in a picture and looked like a giant next to people I considered normal sized. As an adult it became less of an issue, but I was still aware of it.
Maybe it was the gin and tonics, but somehow I forgot my fears for a bit and participated in the photoshoot (yes I mean photoshoot… That’s how this group does things). It wasn’t until days after the photoshoot – when the pictures were posted on IG – that I even thought about them. And let me just say… Despite the fact that I looked like I’d had a bit of gin (which I had), I looked good.
Like realllllll good.
I almost didn’t recognize myself! Well, not my face. Obviously I know what my face looks like. But my body! I was like “who’s that girl?!” What’s more is that I didn’t even notice my flaws. And as I’m writing this and looking at the pictures, all I can think is “what flaws?!”
The problem with a flaw is that it is seen as something that needs to be fixed. It’s hard, but when you don’t see flaws as needing to be fixed, that’s when you’re really being 100% body positive. Let’s strive to see our flaws as simply parts of us, a thing that makes us who we are. Instead of focusing on fixing, let’s appreciate our uniqueness. Of course, that’s a long shot for most of us. Just remember: Flaws are friends (not food). Also, no matter what size or shape you are, you’re hot af. Don’t forget that either.