Ten Tips to Body Acceptance
Something that has been very confusing as I’ve started to share my self-love and disordered eating recovery journey on the Internet is this whole body positive community! It sounds so simple, right? Wrong!
*disclaimer: I am still fairly new to finding a place within this community and consider myself a self love advocate with a large body size so these are my own personal thoughts and opinions*
I have met some amazing ladies and received some incredibly encouraging messages so far. However, there is also a darker side to it all. Are you overweight or underweight enough? Is your ‘fat-shaming’ experience traumatic enough to share? Am I just promoting body love or actual body positivity? Holy smokes y’all! So I’ve written up this post to define the difference and provide my insight on how to love the skin you’re in!
Acceptance of your body at any size and believing you are worthy of self-love
Believing all bodies are good and deserve respect, no matter the size. A movement targeted to normalize and extend accessibility for marginalized bodies.
Over the past few years the body positivity (BoPo) and self love movements, different but connected, have gained considerable traction! I’ve seen more women of heavy weight as highlighted influencers on social media and in magazines, or big WIN-> Ashley Graham as a judge on America’s Next Top Model! But an article from Refinery 29 reminds me how much further we need to go…
“The CDC currently reports the average American woman’s measurements equate to a size 14 (though other studies put her between a 16 and 18). Yet, plus-size women account for, on average, 1 to 2% of the bodies represented in mainstream media. Even Refinery29 — the site that banished weight-loss rhetoric years ago, promoted the #fatkini, and includes body-positivity training for all staff — falls short here. On a good day, only 5 to 8% of the bodies we show are plus-size.
Sounds simple right? Advocate for bodies of all sizes and join the Body Positivity movement! Well, I’ve found this to be harder than expected. I do receive many encouraging messages from my followers...
BUT I also receive messages from people saying my beliefs about the body positive movement aren’t fitting. One big influencer even said that you cannot be part of the BoPo movement and want intentional weight loss, even if it is to help a health condition such as PCOS and being pre-diabetic. What do you think?!
My beliefs here stand that you cannot be Body Positive and advertise weight loss through supplements and workout plans and detoxes. It is SO harmful to keeping heavy weight bodies marginalized and this constant advertisement led to so many of my own issues with beliefs about food. I love a quote a read the other day…. "You know what is healthier than having kale? Having a healthy relationship with food." Mine is still on the mend. I still get embarrassed eating in front of others, I still have binge episodes, and I still get asked how my weight loss is going from friends and family members who don’t know better. PSA- Ask how I am doing, not my weight. But anyway, I have started intuitively eating and my health (physical and mental) benefits from this process I don’t believe disqualify me from becoming an advocate in the BoPo community.
I’ve also seen others saying only those with marginalized bodies can spearhead the movement, but here is the thing. Why wouldn’t we allow those with non-marginalized bodies to share the stories of BoPo and their acceptance of ALL women at ALL weights? This is exactly what the definition of advocacy is. I do understand that when only those at a normal weight are listened to nothing is getting better, but I have found so many amazing activists through the accounts of those with socially accepted bodies. I love that they too can spread the message!
And lastly, many people with eating disorders who struggle with body dissatisfaction actually look like they’re at a normal weight, the battle is internal! Just be aware of this.
So it is quite a heated topic right now and I wanted to be sure you all knew what was going on. Please research body positivity on your own and come to your own conclusions about how we can spread inclusion of ALL body types. BUT lets move on…
Beyond defining the movement, this post is really about YOU! If you need help to love the skin you’re in keep reading.
At a size 16/18 I am a fairly average American woman, but when I walk into a room I definitely feel like the biggest one there most times. I follow many fashion influencers whom I will want to buy their dress or outfit, but when I click on the website the biggest size is a 10 or 12 (aka large). That doesn’t help. I would overhear comments being made in public and always wondered if they were referring to me. I would hold my arms in my lap and cross my legs to take up less room in any given situation. I refused to shop at stores with plus size clothes because I was embarrassed to walk in. But ya know what? Screw that! How much energy was I wasting wondering how big my arms looked in this jacket or what filter I was going to use to hide my cellulite for social media? Ya, a lot. And you know what, confession time- in my lifetime I’ve had very few people fat shame me. It has happened sure, but I get called beautiful pretty regularly. It's really my thoughts about my own body that were placing all the shame on me, so I just want you to know if you aren’t a very heavy weight it doesn’t mean that you don’t need some self love, you may be viewing yourself in such a different way then the world around you does. You can always love yourself more, you can still heal.
One of the biggest eye openers for me was in a session with my therapist. She asked me how I’d feel if one person came in and sat across from me and told me I was beautiful. I said ‘wow that would feel nice!’ and she asked me if I’d believe them. Well sure! But then she asked how I’d feel if 50 people came in one by one and sat across from me and told me I was beautiful. I told her how awkward that would feel. She asked if I would believe them… hm maybe some of them. And then she asked what if it was 100 people. YALL, I started crying. No I absolutely wouldn’t believe them. I’d wonder why they were telling me this? Who put them up to it? Don’t they see my double chin and don’t most of the men notice I’m taller than them? These questions prompted so many emotions and true beliefs about myself. I still cry writing this because I am so sad I couldn’t believe 100 people would think I’m beautiful. Nobody should live thinking they aren’t worthy of compliments. So here are some tips that have worked for me (and I hope they will for you too) as I’ve learned to love my body and beauty and mind.
My TOP 10 tips for body acceptance:
1. Ditch the diet to gain weight or lose weight. You DO NOT need it. The Anti-Diet movement has been an eye-opening experience for me.
2. Find something you’re passionate about that makes you feel accomplished.
3. Don’t bully yourself. Positive affirmations have helped me with this.
4. Unfollow anyone/any brand who provides to your feelings of not being the right size. Unfollow anyone promoting products that are meant to change who you are/how you look. Don’t get me wrong I love beauty products like rosehip oil or face masks, but they don’t make me restrict my food intake to be three sizes smaller and later binge which leads to my shame spiral like my friend’s advertisement selling appetite suppressants does. Maybe these don’t bother you and that is fine! In my own recovery though these posts are fairly triggering.
5. Take photos of your body and find the things you love. As I’ve been taking pictures of myself more I’ve realized I love my eyes and smile! What I see in the mirror or on the scale isn’t always the same as what I see in a photo of me doing something I love, that girl is the girl I strive to be.
6. Avoid conversations about appearance. When someone asks me about a diet or tries to recommend one I seriously can feel my ears start to steam. I had a friend once try to have a conversation with me about how fit men only date bigger women to change them and help them lose weight. I about screamed. On that topic, meet Jenna Kutcher below.
7. Stop putting down other people’s bodies. I noticed when I was judging how others looked my own self worth was more dependent on it. For me, more exposure to marginalized bodies helped (aka I followed more accounts of people with marginalized bodies and now I get to see their beauty everyday, it’s more normalized).
8. Don’t step on the scale. I always thought this was a dumb tip I saw everywhere, but dang I don’t even know what I currently weigh and guess what? I don’t care. Where as before I was obsessing over the 1 or 2 lbs lost and gained throughout the day.
9. Celebrate the good days. When I’m feeling myself I dress up and take myself to a movie. I document my outfit. I share my message.
10. Finally, realize you will have negative thoughts and there will be parts of your body you don’t love. That’s okay. I personally will never love my arm size, but I won’t let it stop me from wearing clothes I love or sitting in a chair with my arms on the armrest like a normal person any longer because I know I am aloud to take up room in this universe. I think this message is especially important for ladies who may not fit in one airplane seat or the woman who has to sit in a school desk different from the rest of the class to feel comfortable. Don’t be ashamed, you are aloud to take up the room you need in this world.
Quotes and influencers to inspire you’re support of the body positive movement:
To follow on Instagram:
- @ownitbabe (body acceptance)
- @jennakutcher (body acceptance)