Body positivity started as a movement in the 1960’s, but hasn’t become what it is known as today without technology. With the rise of social media the body positivity movement evolved and became something that doesn’t fit under one standard definition. The definition has definitely changed throughout the years, but the underlying meaning hasn’t changed. The original definition of body positivity is, “Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.”
With that being said, I’ve asked 3 women to come forward and talk about their own personal experiences regarding their own personal battles. From coming to accept their own body, to dealing with society’s pressures, and pressures at home to see if any of us can relate to the same issues.
What is your name and age?
My name is Gail and I am 33.
My name is Abina George and I’m 29 years old. I’m an Alabamian born and raised. Which means I grew up in a portion of the country that’s known for their high levels of obesity.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Gail -I don’t think I truly understand what body positivity is, at times it seems that its for plus sizes and afraid to embrace their bodies and I as someone who is slim shouldn’t flaunt as it would be boastful. Its doesn’t feel inclusive as it should.
Abina -Body positivity means being comfortable with your body regardless of what perceived flaws you believe you have at the moment. It forsakes the idea of only loving your body if it meets social or even high personal standards.
Lourdes-Body positivity means feeling good about your body and health. Not necessarily meeting anyone else’s standard for what looking good or healthy is.
How do you feel about your body currently?
Gail- I don’t love my body but I don’t hate it either, when I was younger I was so aware of the changes and I hated it. I had no control and I blamed it for most my problems but after children I RESPECT IT. Its done a good job but I don’t feel I will ever look in the mirror and be in love with what I see.
Abina- I’m not feeling the best about my body currently. Over the past few years, I’ve gained far too much weight by anyone’s standards. That said, no one can fat shame or ridicule me. My perception of my body cannot be influenced by the comments or views of others. My body carries me with grace despite its downfalls and is priceless to me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Lourdes-While I feel that there will always be a change I will want to make, I feel happy about where I am at this time.
What is the first memory that comes to mind when thinking about your body?
Gail- The first memory would be when I was around 8, I was tall and developing faster than all my friends. My mum mentioned that maybe I should get a little bralette as she could she my developing nipples through my school shirt. I was not ready for that as I was very young. Looking back I know my mum was protecting me from unwanted attention and hurt words.
Abina- My mom always obsessed about her weight. She was constantly trying to lose weight and as a result, she always wanted me to lose weight. Consequently, I started feeling like I was fat early on even when pictures from the time showed that I was incredibly slender.
Lourdes- Growing up, and even now, my weight constantly fluctuates but I remember being overweight from the age of 9 through 13/14.
At what age did you start to become self-conscious about your body?
Gail- I have always been very tall for my age, I was 5’9 by the time I was 12 and towered over everyone. In high school boys would think I was a lot older than I was and I hated it. I stooped to make me shorter and to hide my growing breasts.
Abina- I started feeling fat at the latest in the 1st grade. I was so slender that my t-shirts hung off me and a stranger might wrongly assume I had a poor appetite. By middle school, I had actually become what I already believed I was. Overweight.
Lourdes- I became self-conscious about my body right around my pre-teen years.
How do you practice body positivity in your life?
Gail -I don’t think I do, I do tell myself that Im strong and I exercise everyday to feel good and not only to help me look good. I try and not wear make up one day a week and embrace my face but its an ongoing battle.
Abina –While I, like most everyone else, see the bodies of others and become insured to be healthier, I refuse to berate myself. I am healthy and able. My body gives me the ability to do what I need and much more. There are things I want to do and improvements I wish to make but I won’t project any hate upon myself for not currently being there. I’m also not going to try to force myself to be skinny. Due to my body type, I will always be curvy or ”thick” whether I weight a little or a lot. I won’t starve myself to fit someone else’s ideals.
Lourdes -For myself, I honestly just jog on a daily basis so that I can feel good about what I eat throughout the day. Body positivity to me, isn’t about eating healthy and limiting myself on what I put into my body, I feel that exercising makes me feel happier and less guilty about what I eat. Not too sure that there’s any practice of body positivity in there but this is how I feel about it, if working out makes me feel better about my unhealthy eating choices, then I’m happy.
What is something that you used to do regarding your body that you do now, but have a different perspective on?
First instance: I used to not wear crop tops because I didn’t think I had the “body” for them, then I stopped caring about labels and what “ kind of body is supposed to be wearing crop tops” and I just started wearing them. -Deanna Stilwell
Gail- Actually the opposite, I used to wear reveling clothes because it gave the impression I was confident, almost like putting on a costume. I now cover up, wear clothes that don’t expose much, I don’t like tight clothes and I chose comfort over it all.
Abina –I used to weigh myself daily! That weight would determine if I would eat normally or barely eat anything. I would cry over my weight and pick over my food because I believed that being skinny would give me what I wanted in life, a boyfriend, success, friends, and happiness. It did none of the above and made me more emotionally unstable.
As far as clothing, when I weighed the least, I’d refuse to wear bikinis because ”I was fat” and I was self-conscious that my belly had rolls. Nowadays, I’m still self-conscious about showing my body, but I will wear a bikini in spite of what the world is telling me.
Lourdes -I never wore crop tops before but I have added a couple to my wardrobe. I wear them on a good day, when I feel more confident and comfortable wearing them. I also was never comfortable in leggings because they show every roll and bulge or fat dimple possible 🙂 but now, I rock them almost every day. They’re now my comfy go-to clothes.
When did you start embracing your body?
What changed to make you start embracing your body?
Gail -I think when I feel pregnant I understood what my body had been doing to prepare me for that moment of carrying a child. My hips, my breasts and my body were made for that and that was very empowering.
Abina –I came to a point where I realized that the only person that mattered when it came to my body was me and I was greatly mistreating myself. I had gained a bit of weight and became frustrated with myself when I realized I was the only one that cared. I was being overly harsh when I was healthy and fine. Why should I continue to make myself feel bad because of airbrushed bodies in magazines?
Lourdes -I began embracing my body at the age of 20 although I did get to my heaviest weight from the age of 27-29 and worked hard to lose 20 pounds. I then, regained my confidence after losing weight and now do the most to keep it off. I feel that constant exercise really helps because I haven’t gained the 20 pounds back yet I still eat what I love. I feel it does help to make small changes to eating habits, for example, I always order my sandwiches dry (no mayo), at times I order my burgers protein style (no buns) or I order grilled over crispy/fried foods.
When did you start to feel different about your body?
Gail- I started to think differently after I had my first child, my body was so different after having her that it could be sometime to get my head around it but having my child meant that I wasn’t not number one anymore and that my body wasn’t the reason I was struggling. I was soon diagnosed with intrusive thought OCD and it explained why I had been so hard on myself
Abina- I came to a point where I realized that the only person that mattered when it came to my body was me and I was greatly mistreating myself. I had gained a bit of weight and became frustrated with myself when I realized I was the only one that cared. I was being overly harsh when I was healthy and fine. Why should I continue to make myself feel bad because of airbrushed bodies in magazines?
Lourdes -I feel differently about my body now because I am getting older and for women, keeping weight off only gets harder as you get older and I think I’m doing okay for now. As soon as I feel that my current techniques are no longer working due to my age, I’ll start eating better and plan to incorporate new and harder workouts.
What would you tell your past self with what you know now?
Gail- You are not fat! You just got your curves before everyone else.
Abina –Go ahead and exercise and learn how to healthily nourish yourself. But your self-worth is not dependent on your size. Keep your body healthy so that you can do what you want to do but don’t obsess about you’d weight. You are worthy of love either way and you have to show others that you are worthy of love by how you love yourself.
Lourdes- I would tell my past self to pace myself, eat smaller portions and go out and be more active. I noticed that I became extremely sluggish and it was because of a combination of my unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise and the pounds slowly piling on. When I decided to do something about my weight, I realized I was getting exhausted and my legs would hurt when just walking and this wasn’t normal because I used to walk home from school in Jr. High without ever feeling any kind of pain caused by just walking. I guess I wish I would have pushed myself a little harder during that part of my life. Sometimes life hits you pretty hard and it becomes difficult to get up and fight back.
All three women live very different lives, yet can all relate to not feeling the best about their body. If you have these thoughts know that you are most definitely not alone and it is a long process to come to terms to love yourself. Also keep in mind that you can start with positive affirmations, working out, and finding something that makes you feel truly happy when you look at your body. Here’s to loving yourself and to shining with everybody by your side…”If I’m shining everybody gonna shine!”-Lizzo
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