This post does discuss eating disorders, body dysmorphia, binge eating, and other ED’s. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek help immediately. Call toll free
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: 1-630-577-1330.
I opened my phone Tuesday morning to find I had a Tik Tok violation. The post didn’t have anything political, violent, or controversial. It wasn’t verbally attacking someone or threatening anyone. The violation was given to me because I posted a swimsuit review, which to Tik Tok, was deemed sexually inappropriate and contained adult nudity. My heart instantly sunk into my stomach, and then I got mad. I was mad that on the swimsuit hashtag alone, millions of girls who are societies standard of *perfect* were able to show off string bikinis without fear of being flagged.
This is one of the many reasons I never felt like I deserved to feel positive about my body.
And how could I? With people, platforms, diet culture, and even at times our own family telling us that carbs go straight to your hips. Or that if we consume more than 1,200 calories you will get fat. Making that seem like that is the worst thing in the world. Rather than celebrating the fact that you beat an eating disorder or how you could love your body even when some days it’s hard. We are told that if we aren’t a size 2 or smaller, we are undeserving of praise for our body. And when we praise our bodies, we are told we are selfish and vain. So either way, it’s a loose loose situation, so why even try?
My Journey to Body Positivity
My entire life I have fluctuated between roughly a size 6 an 14. The smallest, and unhealthiest, I have been a size 2/4 and largest a 16/18. As a teenager, I struggled with body dysmorphia, an eating disorder and extreme exercising due to the lack of understanding on how to love my body. Which led me to being the smallest I have ever been at a size 2/4 where I was miserable. I was heavy into a diet that wasn’t being observed by a dietitian. Daily I was taking up to 10 diet pills. My expectation was that once I was thin, I would be happy. This is also known as Thin-ideal internalization. Even at my smallest, my doctor told me I was still obese for my height and I should “cut the bread at dinner.”. So I did, which led me down a dark lonely path of binging and purging and starving myself on less than 600 calories a day. It was in moments like this where I desperately just needed someone to sit me down, and teach me healthy habits. Teach me how to love my body in it’s current form. Teach me affirmations, what a balanced meal is, and overall just tell me that it was OKAY and NORMAL to not look like the models on the magazines or on social media.
So then comes college…
Where I finally put a name to what I had been dealing with. Up until this point, I grew up thinking this was a normal feeling. So I didn’t think anything of it. Once I talked to someone about how I was feeling, it all clicked. I told my new practitioner what I was feeling. They sent me to a therapist who helped me understand how to process and heal from the traumatic experiences I had. My relationship with food started to heal as I learned what would nourish my body. Then my relationship with my body was able to heal as I learned how to speak to myself and started doing inner work. Now, I acknowledge the days where loving my body can be hard and have ways to show it love. I also have surrounded myself with people who speak love to their bodies and are great examples of what body positivity looks like.
Why we feel like we don’t deserve body positivity.
Theres a million reasons. For starters, platforms censor plus size creators, citing them as sexually explicit or provocative in nature. While creators who fit the extremely small beauty mold are allowed to share the same content. All this is saying is that individuals with more skin, curves, and body don’t deserve to take up space.
This starts to make you feel like I must be the problem. You might feel ashamed in your confidence. You might get feelings of how can I change to fit in? Which let me be clear, you don’t need to change your body. When we make a post sharing a swimsuit look or anything revealing, comments like “How brave!” “I could never post this” “good for you!” solidify that our average bodies are deemed unappealing and unacceptable by societies standards. Why are our average size bodies seen as “brave”?
The statistics say it all…
According to BingeEating.com, one Switzerland study of 1000 adult women (aged 30-74 years) showed more than 70% of these women expressed a desire to be thinner. Despite 73% of women falling within the normal weight range in that study, they still felt as though they weren’t good enough in their own skin. In the US, 22.5% of women and 8.9% of men report body checking as a form repeatedly check your weight and shape against their peers. And the list goes on with influences from media, social media platforms, our friend groups, and even family. The obsession with thinness is so engrained in our society, that when we are proud of our bodies, it’s unacceptable.
At the end of the day, wherever you turn, negative body talk is rampant. Whether it is from the media, our family and friends, or even our health care providers. Loving your body in the 21st century feels impossible at times, and unwelcome. We have been conditioned to believe that we are less than if we do not fit the mold so to speak, and when we take control of our self love, it’s seen as brave. When in reality, taking care of yourself is a beautiful thing!
Why we need body positivity
Think back to the magazine’s you read as a teenager. What did the men and women look like? What were they wearing? Now let’s think about the impact that had on you as a teen. How did those images make you feel? For me, I felt isolated. Already, I was being bullied at school for being “more developed” than my other peers. Which meant that at the ripe old age of 12, I started trying to diet to loose weight.
Let’s flip the script though and think about this. What if we had magazine covers that showed all body shapes? Showed all skin tones? What if the media started to celebrate our bodies instead of tear them down? This of course is a reality that most likely will never happen, which leaves the job to those of us who are content creators and influencers. A group that is also learning how to do this in the best way possible.
Body Positivity Movements in Social Media
I stumbled on this sound after following @raeannlangas for another average girl size to follow. Scrolling through the videos, you understand that we are ALL built differently. Not one Woman’s body, shape, or size is the same. Another great movement on social media is the average girl size hashtag on instagram. With just over 85K tags, this quickly growing hashtag is another source for body positivity content on social media. Other hashtags include self love, body positive, curves are beautiful, and realstagram. These are a few additional hashtags that you can follow for more body positive posts.
You can also follow body positive creators, or creators who look like you for inspiration on clothing brands to buy, how to style looks, or overall just to support their work! Some of my favorite creators are of course Raeannlangas for her fun photos and style. I also am a huge fan of Noelle Downing because she is a literal Disney princess on Instagram, but she also looks like me! So I love seeing how she styles looks on her page! Another great gal to follow is fittybritttty for her unapologetic self love and body positivity posts. These ladies have helped through some of the hardest body days in my adult years. They also help me to continue to grow and share my story with others to encourage anyone struggling that it will be okay!
How to Add Body Positivity to Your Routine
It can be as easy as adding affirmations to your morning routine, or as complex as implementing a whole new workout and self love routine to your day to day life. Whatever works for you! For me, a mix of self loving affirmations, mixed with an accountability group that helps me workout for me without any pressure of weight loss or end goal. Plus I added an hour for my lunch so I can make my lunch everyday. That way I KNOW I am at least getting one nourishing meal a day! For me, all of these things are ways that I show my body love and add body positivity to my routine.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, an affirmation is the action or process of affirming something or being affirmed. While also being emotional support or encouragement. When you create your affirmations, you are creating positive and encouraging goals that you are speaking into existence. Hillary Counseling has created a handy list of 101 body positive affirmations that you can use to help show love to your body. You can also follow my girl Jo at @dallasbeautywellness for even more ways to show love and encouragement to your body and soul.
This one might be a little more of a challenge to add to your routine, but is something that has truly helped me grow in my body positivity journey. Accountability groups provide structure to stay on track towards your goals or well being. For me, the group I am in is just an encouragement group that helps us stay positive and take care of our bodies by just moving them once a day. You can find accountability groups on Facebook, ask your friends if you want to build one, or even check out local counseling centers and see if they have a free to the public group you can join!
When I was healing from my eating disorder, I went to therapy to root cause where my body negativity started and how I could adjust my thinking going forward. I still go to therapy as regular mental maintenance, and I love it! Finding the right therapist though can be hard. Thankfully now we have online resources that are also covered by insurance to help us mentally make it through and teach us how to love our bodies!
Set Up a daily Routine
This seems like a duh point. However, think about it. When you are in a routine that you can easily follow, you are so much more productive, healthier, and feel accomplished. When we feel positive feelings, we tend to show love to ourselves more! On My Self Love Supply, they share an in depth look on the importance of creating a routine to not only set your day up for success, but also show love to your body. You can also build a self love schedule! My favorite is the Passion Planner, which has a digital planner and a tangible planner for you to use to build your routine.
If you made it to the end, I am proud of you!
This is definitely a longer post, that could absolutely be longer. As body positivity impacts much more than womxn, and we didn’t even dive into how our POC community is much more affected by the lack of body positivity. We would be here for days discussing the topic. For now though, I hope you feel excited to dive into the world of body positivity, and I hope that you continue to find tools that work for you and your mental health! Body positivity is not a one size fits all formula. So understanding if you do better with an accountability group, affirmations, therapy, a schedule, or maybe even something else will really help you grow in confidence.
Know that you are beautiful, smart, and important. You bring joy to those around you. You are fully and completely loved.