On the road to loving ourselves, we’ve been set up to lose from the start. How many of us can remember the first time we saw an impossibly beautiful body plastered on the cover of a magazine, and compared it to our own?
How many of us can remember the cruel comments, the torturous diets, the nights picking ourselves to pieces? You’re not alone in your body image struggles.
When I look at my body now, I see belly rolls, I see stretch marks, I see a million flaws that have previously sent me spiraling into self-hatred. But now, I also see happiness. I see beauty beyond the one-dimensional edited form we’re taught to aspire to. I see worth that extends far past the physical. My vision is no longer clouded by the “not good enough” mentality we’ve all been taught.
I don’t look at my body as a reflection of who I am anymore. It’s merely the vessel to my soul. It is my brain bag. It is what allows me to live and experience life. That’s it.
My journey to this point was far from easy, but was it worth it? Hell. Yes.
I still remember pointing to a jeans advertisement in a magazine and telling my mom, “I wish I had her butt and legs.” I remember sitting down in class and feeling insecure of how my thighs filled so much more of that tiny plastic chair than the girl next to me. I worried that others could see my stomach puffing out of my clothes.
I was already being taught that fat is the worst thing a person could be, and that beautiful (read as “thin”), is the best thing a person can be. It’s unsurprising that over the years my insecurities grew into all-consuming demons, and at 21, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder.
I used to suck my stomach in until it hurt. I was brainwashed into believing that I needed to look as thin as possible at all times to be worth something.
I’ve hated myself into over exercise,
I’ve hated myself into binging,
I’ve hated myself into purging,
I’ve nearly hated myself into an early grave, almost starved to death.
None of it took the hate away; it only helped it to grow.
Now, I know that I was a warrior all along. That every pound gained back through recovery is a demon defeated. That my belly rolls are soft and beautiful reminders of battles fought and won. That the body I had tortured for so long has done everything it could to keep me alive, and for that, it deserves my love.
Here’s the truth: YOU’LL NEVER HATE YOURSELF INTO LOVING YOURSELF. And the biggest secret that diet culture doesn’t want you to know? Happiness is not a body type. Self-love is not found in diets and LIFE ISN’T FOR LIVING 10 POUNDS FROM NOW! Life is already happening! It doesn’t wait for anybody! And you’re already good enough to live it in the body you have right now.
Ask yourself: Is self-hate is really working? Are you willing to spend your whole life at war with your body, trying to hate it into something else?
At any angle, in any outfit, posed or not, we are good enough. We are valuable.
I have pulled it, poked it, punched it, and loathed my body for so many years. Thanks to body positivity, I choose to love my body: the hard parts, the soft parts, the rolls, the jiggle, and every part I used to hate for not matching up to the impossible image the media pollutes our ideas of beauty with. I won’t let them brainwash me any longer into thinking there’s a wrong way to have a body.
My body is real. It moves. It bends. It squishes. It rolls. It has muscles. It has fat. FAT! The “horrible F word” that so many of us are afraid of. But why? Does my fat make me less of a human being? Any less beautiful? Any less worthy of respect? Of love, from myself or others? NO.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. Imagine a world where people don’t starve themselves to death in the pursuit of the thin ideal because they know they’re worth more than their body type.
Imagine a world where people don’t turn to binging and purging in times of distress because they can turn to body positivity and self-love instead. This revolution is not about “glorifying obesity” and it certainly isn’t only beneficial to “fat” people. This benefits all people. This teaches all people that they are deserving of acceptance and respect regardless of their outer shells.
Health and happiness come in more than one size and—damn it!—all those sizes are BEAUTIFUL. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself in the name of media body perfection because YOU ARE MORE THAN THAT.
Self-appreciation need to be an indisputable reality. Your body has 100,000 miles of blood vessels (source). Your nose can remember a trillion different smells (source). Your heart pumps with enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet across a room (source). Our lungs inhale over two million litres of air every day, without even thinking. (source). You are made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (octillion) atoms (source). That’s a lot of atoms; wonderful, unique, fascinating little atoms.
We are constantly witnessing and experiencing a miracle: our own bodies. Every day, your body fights for you to be alive and enables you to experience billions of emotions, colors, smells, and sensations. Still, for some reason, we find it nearly impossible to completely escape feelings of hate.
Recovery is a blur for me, fueled by sadness and an unrelenting rage.
I remember telling my dietician, “Whenever I lost weight, the number still wasn’t good enough, so I’d lose more. And more. And it still wasn’t good enough. When will it ever be good enough? When I’m hospitalized? When I’m in my grave?”
It was at that moment when I realized that self-worth and weight have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I could not live the rest of my life hating myself. Thinness will never actually equate to happiness.
I stopped following people I idolized for beauty alone. I filled up my social media with body positive activists. I threw out magazines with diet tips and celebrity body shaming. I read books that changed my whole worldview. I surrounded myself with people who love and support me unconditionally.
I stopped avoiding negative emotions through unhealthy coping mechanisms and started facing them head on and asking for help.
I stopped grabbing and poking the parts of my body I didn’t like and started touching them with kindness instead.
I stopped exercising as a form of punishment and now move my body (and listen to my body) to make it feel good and healthy.
I stopped tearing my body apart for its physical appearance and started appreciating everything that it let me do. All the ways it allowed me to live, cared for me and healed me, despite all I’d put it through.
And most of all, the real secret to my body positive transformation: I got angry again. And once more, I refused to let the body image demons that had been planted into my mind by our culture steal any more of my life from me.
Every time we don’t wear something, or eat something, or do something, because we think we aren’t good enough, we let a little bit of life slip through our fingers. We tie ourselves down with chains of “I’ll do that when I lose weight” and “I can’t do that how I look now,” and we give up our current happiness for a promise that never comes.
We let our power be controlled by huge multibillion-dollar diet and beauty industries that profit from our self-hatred, and teach us self-hatred for exactly that purpose.
You do not exist to look like that impossibly beautiful magazine body you compared yourself to all those years ago. You do not exist to be looked at by other people. You are not an object. Your body is not here for the viewing pleasure of the public. Your body is here to let you LIVE! To let you exist so far beyond what you see in the mirror!
You are capable of so much, of LOVE, of JOY, of ADVENTURE, of CREATIVITY and INTELLIGENCE and KINDNESS and COMPASSION and SO MUCH MORE THAN LOOKING A CERTAIN WAY!
Whatever you’ve been taught to hate about yourself, whether it’s your weight, your height, your skin color, your gender, your age, your ability – you are more than that thing. Yes, you deserve to embrace and love that part of yourself, because it is truly beautiful (you’ve probably guessed by now–you get to decide what beautiful means!), but you also deserve to recognize your wonder outside of that part.
Your purpose, whatever it may be, is so much more than your outer shell.
So however you feel about your body right now, please believe that it can get better. You can learn to love every part of yourself, without changing a thing. And you deserve that. Take it from someone who never thought they’d find a way out; there is hope, happiness, and freedom on the other side.
There was a time when I couldn’t stand the thought of existing in a body like this. When I would have rather die than see so much softness when I looked in the mirror.
These days, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not a single crease or line, not a single dimple or scar. Every part is how it’s supposed to be, and I’m done fighting my body. I am the only person who gets to decide how I feel about myself. I am perfect.
Perfectly imperfect. People often say that nothing is perfect, but I disagree. I believe that everyone and every thing is perfect and beautiful in its imperfect state of being. Think about that. Imagine that just maybe, your imperfections actually make you perfect. Don’t you just love the freedom that thought gives you?
What is your truth? What is your reality? Shut down your demons and listen to the soft voice inside. What is she/he revealing to you? I say you are so worth it. And the moment you love yourself, unapologetically, wholly, and kindly, you are unlimited.
This is my summer body. It is my winter body. My autumn body. My spring body. It doesn’t need changing. This is a body that carries me through life. I never weigh myself, and I never will, and if my body changes, I am ok with it. I aim to love myself regardless of my shape. A life controlled my calories is not a life I want to live.
Yes, I have fat on my body. I have rolls when I bend and move. My belly has a pooch and it squishes over my jeans when I sit down. When I exercise, my tummy gets flat, and when I eat, my tummy gets full. My legs spread out when I sit, and they jiggle when I run miles and miles.
But I love my body, every inch of it. Even when I don’t like it sometimes, I still love it. And I am still loved by so many. Bodies can be whatever they want to be and I wouldn’t have me any other way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do as my shirt says and CARB UP.
“Losing weight is not your life’s work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories. What would happen if, instead of worrying about what you had for breakfast, you focused instead on becoming exquisitely comfortable with who you are as a person? Instead of scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, looking for every bump and bulge, you turned your gaze inward?” – Lisa Turner