Learning not to hate my body, for how it looks or how it fails me with my chronic health problems is the underpinning for me learning to live a happy life. I wanted to share today my five tips for people who are beginning the journey themselves.
Body Positivity includes ALL Bodies, but was started by fat bodies.
If you truly want to immerse yourself in the body positive community you first have to accept this fact: FAT BODIES STARTED THIS MOVEMENT. If your body positivity only goes up to a certain size, you are not body positive. If you only include healthy bodies, you are not body positive. If you only include young bodies, you are not body positive. This space was created by fat women who wanted to say hey fuck you my body is none of your business and live in a body unapolgetically. The arguement that they are promoting obesity is simply ludicrus ... when did you last see a fat babe trying to make money selling you a diet plan so you could look like them?
I dare you to go onto instagram right now and have a look at the #bodypositive. I will bet you that theres at least one before and after shot, all 9 top posts are white and none of them over a size 14. There wont be a big belly in sight just cruves in all the right places. The problem is the once safe space created by the fat positive, fat acceptance movement has been taken away. People use the hashtag to sell and grow their brands. Please dont post before and afters, calories, diet talk etc as these are all things that can be triggering to those with eating disorders and disorded eating
Lose the term, "I feel fat."
Take it out of your vocabulary completely. Fat is not a feeling. I know Michelle is passionate about this and I am guilty of saying it. Along with terms like I am having a fat day. Well Im not, Im fat on every day (although aware that as a size 16 Inbetweenie I am very priveleged) When I am having an IBS flare I used to say i feel fat today, and now I day I feel very bloated and uncomfortable. These subtle changes in language can make a world of difference.
Stop assigning food morality
Food is food ok? One of the best things I ever did for my body was to lose good foods and bad foods. This was terrifying for me at first because diet culture had me wound up tight like a spring, I really thought that when I let go of thinking of foods as good and bad I would ricochette into this endless binge where I would never stop eating. Admittedly on my first couple of days after embracing I ate a fair amount of food. We were on holiday in London and I always eat a lot there, but usually that would have been followed by a few weeks of restriction at home. By letting go of the guilt I found that when I got home and threw away my scales, food started to look less scary. Instead of a battle ground of thinking what was good and bad I started thinking about what my body wanted and started really listening to it. Some days My IBS was bad and i needed less, other days more. Its not an overnight thing but the more you listen to your body the easier it becomes.
Get to know your naked body as a whole
I remember one of the worst things about being ingrained in diet culture was that every time I "fixed" something I found something else that I didnt like. Once I had the smaller tummy I had always dreamed of I noticed how I had cellulite on my thighs. Once my arms no longer jiggled, I honed in on how much I didnt like my hair. You have to remember diet culture is all about money. Of course no one will ever reach the nirvana of thin and be happy, the companies will always invent something else for you to worry about as they need your money. It has to constantly change for them to keep taking your money!
Looking at myself naked was horrible at first. I remember standing in front of the mirror and crying. I hated every single thing. And so at first I went away from looks and would tell myself things like you are loved. You care for other people. Then slowly but surely I got used to my own body. I started to like my waist first, then my legs, and even started to think you know what my belly isn't so bad. Its mine and this body gets me from A to B. I feel, especially in social media, we are only given one type of body to look at. Honestly when was the last time you saw another naked body? If you are like me and work in a hospital you will have seen many. But when I asked this question people have limited options, themselves, their partner and porn stars. Which brings me nicely onto my next point ...
Unfollow, Unfollow, Unfollow
If your Instagram is full of one type of body of course you are going to compare yourself to that. I started unfollowing people who didn't make me feel good, muting friends that had a constant diet culture dialogue and started following a diverse range of bodies. Now I dont mean here follow any person on your feed that is thin, that would be silly, but a lot of the fitness bloggers I followed I was just following because of their body. Their content didn't nourish me in any way it just showed me a warped reality that everyone was thin and successful and to be successful I needed to be thin! You don't owe it to anyone to follow them and you don't have to justify an unfollow.