In the past few years I’ve gained many thoughts relating to body positivity.
For starters, I’m all for women (and men, but the ‘body positivity movement’ is very aimed at women) celebrating themselves and feeling comfortable in their own skin, and I believe that the intent behind body positivity is well meant.
But I don’t understand why we celebrate everybody but still photoshop out cellulite or acne and use filters that give us longer lashes, fuller lips, smoother skin. How can we celebrate women, and the beauty in every single woman, but still get judged if we don’t shave or have tan lines?
Now, maybe you wonder how much I can really comment on body positivity. I’m not plus-sized and I’m not a woman of colour, and these are the women who have felt unrepresented in the media. In this sense, the body positivity movement is doing a wonderful thing in reflecting the diversity of our society.
But I think everyone can have insecurities about their looks, not necessarily related to weight or colour. There is so much pressure from society on every individual.
As a teenager I didn’t like most of what I looked like. I didn’t like my forehead (too big) or my eyes (too small) or my hair or my legs. Even though I wasn’t overweight I thought of myself as too big, which is as ridiculous as it sounds. But it felt real at the time.
So no, I don’t know what it was like growing up and feeling unrepresented by skinny, white models, but that doesn’t make me exempt from pressure and insecurity.
Those things I used to not like about myself don’t bother me much these days. A couple of years ago I learnt a memorable lesson about this.
I changed my diet for a month (in a way that isn’t sustainable for a healthy lifestyle) and was the thinnest I’d been as an adult. But even though I was thinner, I still felt too big compared to the women around me.
And I realized; I didn’t dislike myself because I was ‘fat’, it was that I didn’t accept my body type. The amount of weight I lost didn’t change how I felt about my body; I still didn’t feel small enough.
You want to know something? I can’t change my body type. I can’t change my hip to waist ratio. I can’t change the structure of my bones. I didn’t decide how long or short my legs or torso would be.
If we don’t like ourselves, being fitter or healthier isn’t going to solve the deeper problem. Sure, we might feel more confident or proud of our progress, but are we still going to dislike ourselves on the days we don’t work out or eat well?
Body positivity, to me, is about how see ourselves rather than what we look like.
For the most part, I’ve come to terms with my body type.
Every now and then I spiral into doubt and insecurity, and it’s in those moments that I apologise to myself. Apologise for rejecting what God designed, what He made in His likeness. He made women as beautiful, all women, as He is.
Sometimes it takes a few minutes to apologise, to pull myself out of that negative space. Sometimes it takes a few hours. And then I look at myself and think, hey, you look alright!
And no, saying I look good doesn’t always make me feel like I do.
But over time, if we speak positive words over ourselves, we do start to believe it. It becomes truth.
I used to be self-conscious about having a big forehead (I don’t know, okay), but now I don’t even notice it; I even like it! And it’s because over the years I’ve chosen to accept it.
This isn’t a natural response; forcing positivity where you feel negativity seems awkward, and sometimes fake. But because I did that, I no longer dislike my forehead, along with other parts of my appearance.
In all of this, I don’t want to come across as arrogantly placing myself higher than the body positivity movement. I’m not saying I have a magic formula to all the pressure and expectation and insecurity. I’m not saying I’m confident and happy about myself all the time.
In fact, just last weekend I saw my boyfriend for a few hours (we’re long distance, so this doesn’t happen too often) and I was insecure the whole time. I thought I looked terrible, and because of this I didn’t contribute much to the conversation. My insecurity robbed me of a great time.
So I can talk about speaking positively over ourselves, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect.
But I can honestly say I’m much more secure in myself than I used to be. I no longer redo my hair two hundred times throughout the day, or continually ask people if I look okay. My appearance no longer requires my constant attention and fear.
There’s a peace in me that has come from God’s affirmation and my own acceptance. When I’m hardest on myself is when my relationship with God is at its weakest. I think there’s a link between knowing our Creator and accepting how He made us, believing that He didn’t make a mistake with anyone.
This post has become much more personal than I intended, so I’ll finish it here. But I suppose my point is this:
The body positivity movement is fantastic, and I love the growth of acceptance towards the many different bodies in the world. But I want every girl and woman to really believe it, and not just because it’s become on-trend to do so. It’s a shame that the media hasn’t represented everybody, and still doesn’t, but my hope is that women accept themselves regardless of this.
So many thoughts, so little time. I’ve already started writing up a part 2, so stay tuned if you want to read more about my personal struggles and thoughts on appearance. It’s a bit chaotic, but not in a bad way.