One of the biggest pushes against body positive movement is this idea that those involved with it are promoting/glorify obesity. For some screwed up reason “making an effort” equals thin while being larger is equated to “letting yourself go” or simply “giving up.” Those of us in this body positive/love community, know this is not the case but for those on the outside looking in, this is their only way to understand what is going on.
Bodies, especially female bodies, are policed to the point that weight gain makes headline news. Culture and family expectations also can contribute to this as well. Honestly I grew up hating myself for many different reasons but at the top of that list was my body. Every shopping trip I took with my family always ended with me crying after not finding something that fit and being lectured by my mother that I needed to dedicate myself to diets and fitness regimes to get thinner. My body was a problem that had to be fixed at all costs.
As a result, I began to self-harm at a very young age, the marks being easy to hide since I made sure to keep my body covered as much as possible. I wore mostly black or grey hoodies, and long sleeved tops year round because my body was “too disgusting to be seen.” That kind of mentality and action is really what is unhealthy, but often gets written off as being merely motivation to run to the gym. Later as an adult (with access to the internet) I recognized I had much to learn and unlearn about my own body. In the process I have received attacks from my family for “giving up” or “surrendering” when i should be dieting. It should come as no surprise that I’m usually met by disdain and disappointment as well as feigned concern for my health due to the aforementioned misconceptions of the body positive movement.
Acceptance means that you have the right to look/feel sexy, take up space, try new things, not settle for less than what you’re worth and challenge yourself to go beyond what is comfortable. Accepting is celebrating the fact that there are no limitations, instead discoveries and in some cases even rediscoveries. For instance, I first tried yoga at theCURVYcon and honestly I was beyond surprised at what my body could do. “Fat isn’t flexible,” was what I was told by an instructor the one time I sought to join a yoga club as a college sophomore. Having been body shamed as a teen by my soccer team captain and also the team’s coach as a teen in high school, I avoided physical activity in public so with that statement I resigned myself to limiting my fitness routine to DDR with leg and arm weights behind closed doors.
But you know what? We are actually giving up something by accepting our bodies. We are giving up on diet culture, fatphobia, western body standards, classicism, and even racism in many cases. Everyday we are bombarded by images of idealized bodies so redefining beauty is culturally and socially significant. Just sharing a photo of an unretouched, visually plus body in a bikini, we are challenging the images circulated and promoted in order to shatter the default idea of beauty; recognizing that while our bodies may not reflect the socially constructed standards, we’re worthy of love, success, respect and, of course, great fashion. And this something I will gladly promote.
We don’t have to justify our size or activities we choose to engage in with anyone. The most important thing is just accepting and loving your body. After all, our bodies are pretty amazing. It does things that even science can’t explain and whether or not you believe in God, you have to admit that its a pretty amazing creation. Treat it well, you’ll love what you’ll find.