The body love movement is just so freaking happy, bubbly and pastel coloured. Seriously… check Pinterest. Go ahead and search “body positive” there. I’ll wait.
Did it look something like this?
Gosh there are some great messages but it’s just sooooo pastel. Nothing wrong with pastel, in and of itself, I like pastels… but there’s something missing in this movement and these messages. Something I need.
My mom and I spoke not long ago about how it seems so ridiculously easy to be kind and see the beauty in others but when it comes to ourselves it seems impossible. Working in retail I used to be someone women I didn’t know confessed their insecurities to… they’d tell me “I love this dress but I can’t show my legs…” or “That top is adorable but there’s no way it’d look good on me.” I was there for them, more than happy to encourage them to let go of those negative ideas and embrace wearing whatever the f*ck they wanted.
Retail is a notoriously menial job but damn did I feel proud of myself when customers walked away glowing because they found a bit of confidence in the outfit I helped them pick.
Then I went shopping and passed right by the shorts, skipped the crop tops, and wouldn’t even look at anything fitted because my mind told me don’t you dare – you’ve gotten too big for all that!
How was it so easy to embrace the positive and help other women fight the very same demons that I would let win me over? Why did I tell them to go ahead and buy the short shorts while I searched for a way to hide my body?
It took a few days for it to click but I think I’m beginning to realize what makes Body Positivity so illusive in how I think about myself:
I can’t be skinny, even just for a second. I can’t look a whole lot smaller than I am. I can’t show people what I intended to look like or wish I looked like… I can’t make them not see all the things I pick on myself for.
In that sense, my body is public. Whether it’s the figure I want or not, it’s part of my public image and how I’m viewed.
And I haven’t made it a secret that I wanted it to be a small, toned imitation of what we see in literally all our media. I have an instagram account @fitishkitten which is public – anyone can follow it – and 850 or so people do. They’ve all seen me, in my underwear taking “before” pictures… and 6 months later taking “before” pictures again because time passed but the pounds stayed. And the process just repeats.
I’ve never posted “after pictures”.
I’ve written about it on this blog… not a lot, because I don’t always have the right thing to say, but none the less. I’ve written about wanting to lose the weight. I’ve written about the excitement of losing 4 pounds.
4 pounds didn’t make my jeans fit. I am still down those 4 pounds but I haven’t lost more (yet?).
So that I want to be smaller is my very personal relationship with myself, but it’s also very public knowledge.
I know that doesn’t need to be past tense. I know I can still (and will still) continue my efforts to lose weight.
But I realize that not being where I wanted to be, where I said I’d be, is a big part of why I can’t seem to make my thoughts more positive. It’s not as simple as telling myself that I can’t wear this or that, or that I’m unattractive because of my size. In telling myself that I can’t have this or that because of my size there’s also a narrative of you could have had that, could have been better but you weren’t good enough on your diet or at the gym. This is your fault.
I know the way I think about myself and body positivity is flawed. I love reading the posts of body positive icons and I understand the message that nothing needs to change for us to love ourselves. I know I’m supposed to love myself at any size. I know that I’m allowed to love myself even if it’s not the way I planned.
Yet here I am – spreading a message of body positivity that I let myself believe doesn’t apply to this body.
I love the messages in the pastel pinks and purples. I love the illustrations of girls loving themselves and I am HERE for the insta-babes rocking their rolls, their swimsuits, their everything and not giving a f*ck who finds it “attractive” or “insta-worthy”.
But if it was as simple as being told “love your body” and “size is just a number” or “Don’t let your mind bully your body”… well if it was as simple as that I wouldn’t be so far in to this post.
Some days I put on my stretchy pants and my fave comfy sweater and I enjoy being able to just breathe. But other days I need to leave the house. I might have something to do where I want to look put together, polished even. Or I might be going out with my beautiful girlfriend who has style for days. I want to feel good about how I show who I am to the world.
This is where it turns out that the quotes on pinterest don’t help very much. They don’t make my jeans fit. They don’t take away my dislike for that gentle collection of pudge around my midsection. They certainly don’t make it look less violent when that pudge is squeezed in the wrong way creating some god-awful muffin top.
The idea that I cannot be seen to have such a soft and chubby body is so deeply ingrained that it’s like if I just searched harder or adjusted my top this way and my pants that way… maybe I could somehow fool people looking at me in to just not seeing the 100 pounds of body I wish I didn’t have. Right?
Like a little well placed draping of the fabric fools everyone.
These demons know how to protect themselves better than I know how to fight. These demons don’t just tell us that we are fat, that we are unattractive or that we don’t deserve certain styles or experiences because of our body.
These demons tell us that body positivity doesn’t apply to us. That the “chub rub club” is a punishment, not a babe squad, and that this body can’t have my love. So even though I might surround myself with body positive messages my mind is a fortress against their positive effects.
It is the thing that body positive messages aren’t equipped to help us with; we need a body positive movement of leather wearing, mohawk rocking, force weilding badasses with better advice than “have a bubble bath” or “repeat “I deserve happiness” until you’re happy”. Sorry girls – I love the girly, pretty, bubble bath image but I’ve sat in that bath-bombed water until it was cold and when the bubbles disappeared I still hated the body they hid.
I need a movement that answers the demons of negative self talk and the crippling effects of low self esteem with equal force and fury.
It has to be bigger than the industry selling me my skinny self one pill and one protein shake at a time.
So let’s band together and create it. We can still sparkle. I will still love pastels. But let’s make our edges sharper, let’s get sassy and crazy and be bold.
Let your inner tough girl beat down the inner bitch who calls you fat
How do you make your body love louder than your doubt? I wanna know 😀