How do YOU see your body? Is it a comfortable place to be or is it a shell of who you really are? Deep. I know. But this is something I think about often, how do I see my body.
For years I spent almost all of my time thinking about my body. What I’m feeding it, what I can do to make it better – more lean, stronger, BETTER. I had an obsession with changing everything about my body. I hated it the way it was.
This is not a before and after story. I am not going to tell you that I had a magical metanoia and managed to turn into a lean, fit, fighting machine or a beautiful, delicate Audrey Hepburn type. Nope. Not even close. This is a story about how I am continuing to learn to be body positive.
What is body positivity? According to Megan Jayne Crabbe, in her book ‘Body Positive Power’ body positivity is learning to love and accept everything about your body from what it looks like to what it can do.
I mean, doesn’t this just sound like the most difficult thing ever?
After all, we’ve spent years of our lives yearning for that ‘bikini body’, that perfect body that will someday be ours when we are 16, 18, 25, 30…and so on. The dream never dies. But really, when was the last time you actually looked at your body with true acceptance? Not just… it is fine apart from my stomach/legs/arms etc etc etc. But true, unswerving acceptance. I know I have never done this. But I have decided to learn.
I first decided this was something I would try when I came across Megan Jayne Crabbe’s Instagram page (also known as BodyPosiPanda) and saw something that made me think twice about my lifestyle. Realness. Megan advocates for people to get to know themselves as real people, to show their real selves and to learn to love themselves.
Megan is real about her eating-disorder which she overcame by getting involved in the body-positive movement and learning to embrace her own body and it’s perfections and flaws. Her story inspired me to get involved too. As I have previously written in my blog post ‘The Battle’, I began introducing new ways of coping with my eating disorder and my anxiety. One of these was to follow the body positive movement and another was to stop comparing myself to others.
Since I began following Megan (BodyPosiPanda) and other body positive bloggers such as Gina Nourish and Eat, it opened up a new world to me and I began to feel more positive about my own shape and size. I stopped working out because I hated my body and started working out when I felt like it – because it made me feel good to release tension. I stopped buying clothes that were a size too small for me and making myself stupid promises that I would fit into them by Christmas or summer, I threw out all the clothes that were too small for me and just wore whatever was comfortable. I threw out my weighing scales and refused to let the number matter to me. I began to eliminate all rules I previously had about food and ate when I felt hungry or when I simply wanted to.
Doing these things gave me a nervous thrill. Was I really daring to rebel against diet culture? Was I really brave enough to go out in the world my true size? Was I really strong enough to withstand the constant pressure from the world to diet, to be slim, to be a conformist?
Yes. And it worked. My eating disorder began to have less and less power over me. I have now been symptom free for almost 6 months! Of course I have had bad ‘body image’ days and bad days in general. But I can honestly say that the body positive movement is functional, practical and makes sense to me.
So what do the critics say?
- But how can you be positive about your body when you are fat/obese?
- You can’t be healthy and fat!
- But what about the diets that aren’t actually diets – they are lifestyle changes?
Firstly, the body positive movement is about being happy with yourself and loving yourself even if you are fat, thin, old, young whatever. At any stage simply accepting yourself.
Secondly, yes you apparently can! Megan addresses this in ‘Body Positive Power’ when she talks about how just like you can be thin and unhealthy, you can be fat and healthy. She states that body positivity does not promote or encourage obesity or fatness but simply encourages people to have self-worth no matter what size you are. That means that I could work out and eat healthy foods but be technically overweight. BMI LIES!
And seriously, diets that claim to be just ‘lifestyle changes’ are still …diets. If you are eating by a certain plan to lose weight then YES you are dieting. I have tried every diet under the sun, have been drawn in to ‘lifestyle changes’ that claim to fix your relationship with food but every time I have gained the weight back because I was unable to keep up the ‘lifestyle’. I blamed that on myself for years… thought I was simply weak. But in reality, every company that claims to fix your weight is actually to blame, because they would never make money without you needing to KEEP fixing your weight.
In conclusion, this may be one of my most opinionated blog posts to date, but it is simply what I’ve been learning over the last year. The body positive movement has worked as a motivator for me to recover and to learn how to accept myself. It’s still taking time, but I am slowly gaining confidence and am more comfortable in my skin than I ever used to be. I’m not claiming to be perfect but that’s exactly the point, I am not perfect. I am just me.
So yeah, thanks Megan, and friends, for making me think outside the box. Body positivity is a functional lifestyle and I am living proof.