How Do I Define Being Body Positive?
I’m very hesitant to jump on any trend phrase because A. I hate confrontation. B. I hate confrontation. C. There’s not always a lot of explanation behind how something personally relates to you and the scope of how you identify with it. I.e. when I was plant-based, I made sure to say that rather than vegan. They are different. The exception to this rule was restaurants because it’s a much easier way to say I don’t eat ALL of these things (meat, dairy, animal products). But you get what I mean.
So when it comes to defining body positivity in my own life, I believe in being in a space where you feel mentally & physically empowered in your own skin. It’s about creating something you feel proud of and not projecting your feelings of insecurity onto someone else for wanting to change their own body. For me, it’s about learning to love my body in all of its stages.
Dealing With A Past Diet History
I’ve spoken about this in a previous blog post which I’ve noticed has been getting some traction again lately. And I don’t feel like I can truly let you in for this conversation if we don’t address it.
I’ve spent the last few years starting to unpack what has become my base level of thinking. This is a forever going process as we’re constantly learning and growing. But when my health & relationship with food needed to change, I had to go down the emotional rabbit hole. I’ve learned a few things. One of those being, I keep a reserve of pain and anger that fuels me. It’s what pushes me to be better, do better, and reach for my next level. However, when I don’t provide a healthy outlet for it, (working out, creating, playing music), it turns toxic. I.e. I’d overeat to cause my body pain in a new way. Learning my cues and creating new habits was major for helping me to rework this mentally.
However, it’s only been recent that I’ve come to a place where I could align my ability to mindfully watch what I ate while also listening to my body. Instead of following someone else’s road map to what would be perfect for me, I’ve been able to craft my own. Do I have a fairly strange diet? Compared to a majority of people, yes. My body is very communicative about what it doesn’t and doesn’t like. But am I jumping on this diet bandwagon or that one? No. Keto. Paleo. Low Carb. Fodmap. There’s so many out there. If you can’t learn to listen to your body in the process of trying these different plans, you’ll never actually be able to heal to the full capacity that they allow.
RECONNECTING WITH YOUR BODY
As women, one of the conversations I often have with other, typically Southern or religious women, is how do we enjoy & connect with our bodies as adults? We go from being told what we can and can’t wear, what is & isn’t appropriate, to suddenly feeling like we’re supposed to love a body we’ve been taught to hate. The psychology there doesn’t quite connect. Side note: I’ll be doing a deep dive post on this in a few weeks sharing the mindsets and mental limitations I’ve worked to overcome to reconnect so be sure you’re subscribed to the newsletter to get that.
When I think of the phrase body positive, I think of how I personally feel about my body. Not how influencer X decided she wanted to lose weight or why influencer Y looks curvier. If you’re following the body positivity movement because you’re looking for someone else to make your feel adequate in your own body, you’re always going to be miserable.
Yes, I think we need more representation of all shapes and sizes out there so that women at all stages can see how something looks on them. I am constantly annoyed by the fact that there are so few curvy, petite fashion influencers with my style because all of the ones who’ve gotten the hype don’t accurately reflect how something looks on my body. *which is why I’m sharing more fashion content on Insta btw*
But here’s what it boils down to: you are the only person who can make you love yourself. No one else can do that for you. It doesn’t matter if you want to lose 20 pounds or gain 50. You have to be willing to learn to find the things about you that bring you joy & make you proud daily. Otherwise, it will never matter because you’ll always be looking for validation that is constantly outside of you & inconsistent.
SETTING HEALTHY BODY BOUNDARIES
One of the unhealthy mental habits I’ve noticed that I’d developed over the year was a default of always comparing myself to someone else physically. This is very much leftover from being bullied as a kid and is something I still have to check myself on occasionally. So if you’re on a journey to find a way to become more positive about your body, I’d encourage you to try to delve into those moments when they pop up.
For example, I occasionally go down the rabbit hole of Youtube dance videos. And I’ve noticed when I’m in a space where maybe I feel less than, I catch my mind judging other women’s bodies and the way they move. This has nothing to do with their skill or how much they probably love their body. It has EVERYTHING to do with my own insecurities popping up and the need to feel like enough.
One of the things mentioned in The Social Dilemma (that documentary on Netflix about social media) was how we’ve crafted this world of people who only agree/share our views. We’ve normalized living in a bubble to a degree which prevents us from creating boundaries and independent self-worth. *Note: this will look different for everyone so please adjust however feels appropriate for you.
Does that mean you need to follow every health, wellness & fitness influencer on the Gram? Hell no. I’m constantly adding, unfollowing & muting as my mental health needs it. But if there’s a certain area you need to heal in, invite people in that boost that and temporarily limit those who are stealing your healing energy. Healing requires a safe space but living doesn’t mean we stay there forever. Step back, take the time to heal, and then invite that chaos back in a little to make sure you’re a balanced human.
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF
As women, we’ve been taught to be caregivers or to make others feel comfortable about our decisions. Now, this isn’t the case for ALL of us but I often find that it’s rare to be able to just make a statement and have no follow-up questions. And I get it. The people who love you want to understand. They might want to check-in. They might want to take inspiration from your process. But at the end of the day, you owe no one an explanation for what you choose to do with your body.
No one says, hey can you explain to me WHY you find that person attractive. *I’m sure if we did a deep mental dive on why you could figure it out but sometimes ignorance is bliss* At the end of the day, you feeling at home in your body is what matters. How you define being body positive is what matters. And your ability to say I love my body with confidence and without a need to feel defensive, despite other people’s needs to comment on it, is what matters.
So to succinctly answer my own posed question: Yes, you can be body positive and want to change your body.
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