22 Feb What Body Positivity Means to Me
A few years back, I came across this movement called body positivity which sparked an idea to start a bucketlist challenge that in the end would hopefully encourage me to love my body. Having tried every crash diet imaginable, filling my body with pills to “lose weight fast!” only to be left disappointed, I decided to embark on a journey of a healthier way of life – if not for me, for my son.
Halfway through my bucket list challenge, I fell pregnant with my second son and loving my body became easy – suddenly, it was okay to celebrate my swelling tummy and large boobs, and taking full-length photos became second nature. Shit, I even took photos with just a boob-tube on.
But then I gave birth and my body became my prison – I am larger, puffier, and this damn pouch-thing that is considered a stomach just doesn’t look good in anything. I found myself consumed by negativity which would affect my work, my life and even my relationship. At its worse, someone on the internet decided to comment on how concerned they were about my health – my health? What the fuck does that even have to do with anything – or anyone?
Let’s just set the record straight – among my friends and family, I am the healthiest. I do not get sick, I eat quite well – flip, I even eat beans and oats. I have all my organs, wisdoms and am quite attached to my tonsils and appendix – I have never been in hospital for anything other than delivering two beautiful, healthy boys. I do not drink alcohol and have never smoked. My blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol are all normal. On paper, I am healthy but what she meant is that she is concerned about me being fat. Because I am fat.
See, my fatness does not take away from your day. It also does not take away from my personality, great sense of humor, empathy, ability to parent, my knowledge or work ethic. My fatness does not define the person I am, and just because I am not speaking about fad diets on my social media, does not mean I am ignoring that I am fat. I know that I am fat believe me, any fat person knows that they are fat without you pointing it out.
Last week, I was chatting with some friends about body positivity and how they felt that the movement promoted obesity. At first, I was really angry because I felt like something that I had worked so hard to define in my own life was under attack and brushed off as not being as important as the movements they supported. But before letting my anger become me, I took a step back and decided to use it as an opportunity to share what body positivity means to me, which of course inspired this blog post.
Body Positivity is not promoting obesity, any shape, size or form, and while at first, I used it as an excuse for me to emotionally eat myself into oblivion, I realize now that body positive means allowing yourself to love your body right now. It means not saying, “if I just lose another 5 or 10 or 20 kgs. I will begin living.” It means living a full life despite your shape or size – it means being present and not letting your body hold you back from enjoying the good things in life.
Does that mean it is against exercising or going to the gym? No, not at all! In the beginning, I struggled with this but if exercising is your way of de-stressing or nourishing your body then, by all means, do it. But don’t use working out as a punishment for eating an ice-cream and don’t let changing your body be your motivation for working out.
Well, very often, people reach their goals – they punish their bodies, deprive it of nutrients and food groups, work out until they’re sick and they lose all the weight that they had set out to lose, and then they’re left looking in the mirror and they’re still not happy, so they say, just another 5 kgs and I will be happier. Truth is, until you claim your body as yours and learn to embrace it right then and now, you’ll never be happy no matter how many kilos you gain or lose.
Does body positivity mean giving yourself the go-ahead to be a glutton and eat non-stop? Again, no! Body positivity means respecting your body enough to not deprive it of what it needs to grow and be strong. Dieting teaches us to withhold certain food groups and ruins intuitive eating – something we can never get back.
Through body positivity, I have learnt to listen to my body and what it tells me it needs – some days it means making a green salad at 11 pm, or only eating half of what I had dished up while other days it means grabbing a second serving. Right now, I find my body responds better to gluten-free pasta – I love pasta, but I hate the bloating and cramping, so I have changed to gluten-free. My choice wasn’t because I wanted to change my body but rather how my body responds to foods.
Right now, I would like to lose weight – I don’t intend on promoting a weight loss program because I don’t plan on using one or pills. I am literally going to stop being so excessive in my eating; I drink a lot of fizzy drinks, eat sparingly and when I do eat, the meals aren’t very nourishing. I realize that my current habits aren’t honouring my body and in general I am not FEELING my best.
And that’s my indicator.
I don’t really care that I have fat thighs and a narrow waist with big boobs. I don’t picture myself to ever be skinny – I don’t WANT that. I like and appreciate my curves but right now, I am not FEELING great about my body and after having too many “bad body days,” I realize that something has to change. I need to start listening to my body again and what it needs.
It’s that simple. Body positivity is not about one size, shape or gender – it’s about respecting your body, listening to it and not feeling like it needs to change for you to start living. Stop using your body as an excuse – you don’t have to be a certain size to go to the beach and swim, you don’t need cellulite-free thighs to wear shorts, you don’t have to be tall to wear a maxi-dress or slim to wear stripes. Wear what you want, do what you like and live a life worth living.