It’s strange. I used to feel inner need to lose weight. I used to look in the mirror and see only things that I wished I could change. I used to purchase clothes that were too small because I couldn’t stand to get the next size up. I used to feel ashamed when I stepped on the scale and measured how good I was allowed to feel about myself in direct proportion to the numbers that it displayed. I used to take other peoples’ opinions on my weight to heart and use it as motivation to go on yet another diet. I used to think about my weight constantly and worry about what other people thought of me and how they rated my attractiveness.
Now I’m honestly fine with how I look. I’m a size 12-14, and other than my breasts causing me a world of problems, I’m perfectly happy with how I look. Honestly. No joke. I’m totally serious.
The drive to always be thinner, always try to make myself prettier, always attempt to be more attractive has been alive since I first realized that I didn’t look like the little girls on the boxes of toys and dolls. I have felt body shame since I was mature enough to have developed a concept of it. For some years, I blamed my body for my failings, assuring myself that if I was just thinner, cuter, looked more like a Victoria’s Secret Angel, then people would accept me, I would be understood, I would feel loved.
But that’s all bullshit. Someone who only loves you when you look a certain way is not someone who loves you. Someone who treats you better when you are more conventionally attractive is not a nice person. And I don’t have time for anyone who wants me to change everything about myself in order to accept me. Being beautiful doesn’t eliminate all of your problems, make you a better person, or resolve your insecurities. If you were unhappy when you were fat, you will be unhappy when you are thin. Changing your body isn’t magic. It only changes your body. Not your mind, life, or abilities.
It feels strange to be free of the feelings of guilt and shame and obsession in regards to my body. It’s weird to be able to look in the mirror and give myself a mental thumbs up before heading out. It feels downright bizarre! How could I love my body when my body isn’t perfect?! How can I be okay with myself when I’m not gracing the cover of a fashion magazine, wearing a size 0 sample, and standing without my thighs touching!?
How I actually accomplished this feat, I really don’t know. I wish I could give advice, but I’m not 100% sure when the last of my body shame slipped away or why. I have a few thoughts though. It could be a variety of these things or even stuff that I’m not aware of, but the few that I can think of are worth note.
1. I’m surrounded by accepting people. No one who calls themselves my friend would body shame me or make me feel like I need to change myself. A large part of how you view the world is crafted by the feedback that you get from others. My friends and family are nothing but supportive and wonderful.
2. I started liking body-positive pages on Facebook. Repetition is one thing that can have a major impact on what we think. If we see something often enough, it will start to sink in. I regularly see images of all types of women and positive memes about accepting your body and loving yourself. I see my Facebook friends post them and repost them. When I can see everyday that there are all types of women, living all types of lives, and whatever they’re doing is perfectly alright, it helps.
3. I’m older and wiser. As a teenager I couldn’t imagine myself being positive about my body. In my early teens I was eating once a day and punishing myself for craving chocolate. In my late teens my weight went up, then drastically down after I discovered disordered eating. After being big, small, and in between, I’ve learned that who you are as a person is what matters. You don’t have to be miserable if you’re fat, you don’t have to be happy if you’re thin. Your body changing doesn’t change anything else.
If I ever pin down exactly how and why I lose my body shame, I will write another blog. Until then, I hope that everyone can one day feel acceptance like this and stop worrying about what they look like, when they are capable of so much more.