How Body Positivity Changed My Life
The words body positivity can elicit different reactions from different people. Some people view it as an excuse to be fat and unhealthy or say it is celebrating obesity. For some people, it is an impossible ideal of being able to love themselves and their bodies 24/7. Others view it as just one more way for people to profit from our insecurities. Then, of course, there is the actual body positivity movement which is rooted in giving people in bigger bodies the chance to be heard, represented and understood for the first time ever.
Some people love it, some people hate it, but for me, body positivity changed my life.
I don’t say those words lightly, my life is infinitely better since I started my body positivity and self-love journey. For me body positivity is so much more than just loving and appreciating my body, it is so much more than the important work being done by my fellow body positivity advocates to bring to light the experiences of those who have been largely ignored, it is so much more than just posting a half-naked picture on Instagram.
I grew up as the chubby girl, I didn’t go on a single date in high school (unless you count the prom date my friends had to set up for me), I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 20 and even that was a drunken kiss that didn’t mean anything. I spent the majority of my adult life trying to lose weight then gaining it all back over and over again, and I daydreamed constantly about what life would be like if I were skinny and happy in my body.
I spent the vast majority of my life hiding, playing small, hating my body and having no confidence in myself. I did a few brave things in my life like trying out for my university’s women's basketball team and auditioning for American Idol, but for the most part, I kept my big dreams inside me, I kept my true self and my true desires hidden away from the rest of the world.
When I finally figured out how to love myself all of that changed. It wasn’t just that I didn’t hate what I saw in the mirror anymore or that I cared less about what the scale said in the morning, the changes went much deeper than that. Acceptance of my body and myself gave me the confidence to finally write and publish my first books. Two super-hot, erotic romance novels that I had been dreaming of writing for years but was too scared about what everyone would think. Body positivity gave me the confidence to ask for, and in return receive, some of the things I needed in various relationships in my life. Body positivity gave me the confidence to own my decisions as a mom and banish the mom guilt. That self-acceptance gave me the confidence to finally be me. I could stop hiding behind layers and layers of insecurities and just be me.
Body positivity gave me freedom; freedom that comes from letting go of the expectations others have for me and my body. It is living the life I want to live. It is the freedom to share who I am with the world and not be ashamed of what I have to say anymore. It is the gift of being able to focus on and think about something other than losing weight and being smaller. It is incredible how much of my time and energy was being occupied by thoughts about my body and getting that mental space back has given the freedom to live my life doing the things I want and the ability to be truly present with my family. All of that change has come from simply learning to love and appreciate my body a little more than I did yesterday.
I honestly believe body positivity and loving ourselves is intertwined with every single aspect of our lives. We have been conditioned since we were little girls to believe our bodies are the most interesting thing about us, that we need to be small and perfect with curves in all the right places, that our bodies aren’t good unless they look good. We have been trained to know what kind of body is desirable and to try to fit our body into that mold at all costs. We have been made to believe if you don’t look the “right” way you are somehow worth less than the girls that do. But all of that is a lie. A lie sold to us by industries making money off our insecurities. And when we believe that lie, we hide all the best parts of ourselves in an effort to “fit in” and be liked.
When we can let go of those lies (and trust me, it is not as easy as it sounds) we can finally be free to truly live in the bodies we have right now and own our stories. That happiness and freedom is something I hope every single person on this planet can find.