Last New Year’s, I thought I would feel better about life, the universe, and everything if I just lost weight. A drug had triggered metabolic issues, which had triggered diabetes, which had triggered runaway weight gain I hadn’t noticed for months until my clothes stopped fitting. When I stepped on the scale, I cried.
I started a strict diet-and-exercise regime, but it didn’t work. I had to ditch the drug. They put me on weight-loss meds. I thought that once they worked all the way, once I was down to that magical size 8 I’d been before this all started, that lovely-sounding, happy medium, I would be happy with myself.
The drugs worked. I dropped weight fast. But it was never enough. I never felt good enough.
Then I watched a documentary on body positivity, and all of it started to change.
The top New Year’s resolution, at 21.4% according to StatisticsBrain, is losing weight. And in years past, I did the same. I’ve made resolutions to lose weight, but this year, I’m making a different resolution, and I hope you’ll make it with me. I’m making a resolution, instead, to dive deeper into body positivity, and here’s how you can do it along with me.
Surround Yourself with Body Positivity
The world screams down at us that we are not good enough. A woman getting on an airplane next to me this October actually apologized to me for taking up space. She felt like she had to say, to a stranger, that she was sorry for the size of her body. Welcome to our world of size 00 and the diet industry. You’ve heard these messages all your life. You need to counteract them: you need to make the good voices, the accepting voices, louder than the negative ones. To do that, you need to seek them out and interact with them.
Find the body positivity gurus: people from The Body Positive, plus-sized (according to the fashion industry) Ashley Graham. Check out hashtags like #effyourbodystandards, #plusssizefashion, and #plussizeootd (outfit of the day) on Instagram. I also like #pinupstyle, #plussizepinup, and #plussizemodel, which includes women of all skin colors.
Spend time looking at the beauty of these women and men, of their bodies. Find a good body positivity discussion group on Facebook — there are many. I have one I love, and I make myself go there every day, if just to scan the posts. A supportive community will help you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Throw Out Your Clothes
Okay, not all of them. But seriously, if they don’t fit, ditch ‘em. Don’t cling to an unhealthy dream. Keep one or two sentimental items, if you want. Or upcycle the stuff you adore — there are ways to remake smaller clothes fit with a gentle injection of Pinterest and some basic sewing skills. But if you’re not Pinteresty, donate what doesn’t fit, what you don’t feel good in. Keep only what you love, what fits you well, and what makes you feel good about yourself.
Oh, and throw out your scale, too. It’ll make a huge difference, trust me.
Dissect Media Messages
We’re bombarded with voices screaming that we aren’t good enough, thin enough, small enough, and whatever. Your hair isn’t straight enough, smooth enough. Fuck that. Start actually reading what these messages are telling you. What’s that ad saying — if you’re unhealthily skinny and wear these clothes you’ll find happiness? Where does that leave those of us who wear XL, XXL, or larger? Or even a size 12? These are sizes some stores won’t stock, and once you start thinking hard about the messages advertisers are sending, you realize how fucked up they are, how laughable, and how you need to ignore them for the sake of your own sanity.
Learn That The Size Does Not Make The Person
Every woman has learned, from a young age, to base her self-worth on the tiny tag in the back end of her jeans. First, realize that one size 8 (in this case) is not the same as another size 8, according to Racked. This is why my closet contains everything from 10s to 16s. So start ignoring the number or letter on the stupid little tag that no one will see, and start buying what makes you feel good. Say to yourself, whenever you see one of those tags, a line from Fight Club: “You are not your fucking khakis.”
Notice Beauty Where You See It
When you see women of size, of color, of difference, notice them. Notice their beauty, then point it out. Pay compliments. You’ll get used to seeing other people’s real, non-airbrushed, atypical-fashion-industry beauty, which translates slowly into seeing your own real beauty. And people you compliment realize someone noticed them, thought they were rocking, and rocking so hard they said something. That’s a good feeling. Put something good out into the world.
It’ll take a long time. This is not a short-term fix or a weekend project; embracing body positivity is something that takes a serious commitment to changing your thoughts, to healing yourself, to forgiving yourself, to accepting yourself. I still backslide. I do all these things and I still can’t bring myself to ditch the Spanx. I sometimes castigate myself for my food choices, rather than eating intutively. I think words like “back fat” and have been known, on my blackest of days, to say, “I feel so fat.” It’s a work in progress. It’s a building up, rather than breaking down. It’s a freeing of your mindspace. What would you do with all the time you spend worrying about your body? Do you want that time back?
I do. And in 2018, I will push myself further into body positivity than I ever have before. Come with me. We can do it. And we will be so much stronger for it.