BODY POSITIVITY ISSUES START YOUNG
Body positivity roots in the belief that people should have a positive body image. From a very young age, I felt like my body was different from all the other girls around me. When I was about 13, I started noticing people “checking me out “ while running errands with my Mom. I can remember feeling super self-conscious and when I would ask my Mom about it, she would just say, “Don’t worry about it Marg, they’re only looking at you because they think you’re beautiful!”. I did not believe her. At this moment I did not have a positive body image.
I had a super skinny waist and a super curvy bottom half and I was convinced that was what people were really looking at. (Not my face at all!) And why did that offend me so much? Who or what gave me the impression that there was something wrong with a “curvy” body? And why would anyone single “me” out in a crowded grocery store?
Looking back I can now see that it was all in my head. I clearly had very low self-esteem which then triggered social anxiety.
Actually, I became an expert at putting myself down with lots of self-deprecating words. I was the “class clown” in my group of friends at school which made it even easier to make fun of myself regularly.
Body positivity begins with our self-esteem. If we put ourselves down enough times, we start to believe all of that negative self-talk to be true. Fast-forward 20 years and I’m a 40 year old Mother of two with body issues.
A BLOW TO MY SELF-ESTEEM AND BODY POSITIVITY
I can remember going to buy my first two piece bathing suit I walking into the store feeling confident and body positive. And I couldn’t wait to find the perfect bathing suit for our two weekend vacation at the beach!
The styles only came in nested sets: The same size on top and bottom. And since I was at least two sizes bigger on bottom than I was on top, I was set up for failure right off the bat. Nothing in that store was going to fit me but I wanted to make it work. I quickly discovered that what fit on top was too small on the bottom and vice versa.
So I tried on a handful of options before finally settling on one that tamed my curves without showing too much skin. And when you’re shopping for a bikini? Well, you get the point! I was so disgusted with the fact that my body wouldn’t fit into this formula of sizing; being the same size on top and bottom; that I left the shop feeling ashamed of my body shape. My body positivity was ruined. And just like that my self-esteem took a major hit. All those body-positive vibes got washed away the moment I walked out of the store.
WHY CAN’T I LOOK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE?
What fit all of my friends one way fit me entirely differently. And I resented that. Cue more hits to the self-esteem. Twice a year we had semi-formal school dances for which we were required to wear a cocktail length dress. My girlfriends and I would put our dresses together after each dance and trade them for the next. Trying these dresses on in front of everyone became a dreaded task. I knew that the seams were more than likely going to rip ever so slightly, upon shimmying the sequins up and over my hips. To me it sounded like a freight train of shame. Naturally, everyone wanted to see how it looked once it was fully zipped, “if” I could get it fully zipped without compromising the dress.
What was a relaxed silhouette on the other girls was full-on “body-con” on me and I hated myself for it. I had zero self-confidence and my body positivity was plummeting.
I started making fun of myself at parties, calling myself the “skinny, skinny, waist—fat, fat, bottom girl” and came up with a little dance to go along with it. So I was incredibly self-deprecating. It gave the illusion of self-confidence when the reality of the fact was that I was completely ashamed of how my body looked. I was constantly comparing myself to my peers and couldn’t accept the fact that my body was different.
LEARNING TO LOVE OUR BODIES
As life happens the shape of our bodies change. We have babies and our bodies are never the same. Our weight is constantly redistributing itself depending on the season of life. Stress adds weight. Life is hard. We have ups and downs and so does our weight.
When will decide to accept our body’s for what they are? Beautiful temples with the tattoos of time scattered gently throughout them. We are all unique in our body shapes. And allowing a shopping experience or a peer to turn that individuality into something negative has to stop. Let’s learn to love our lumps and bumps and curves and bigger bottoms. Let’s boost each other’s body positivity with positive reinforcement and affirmations. Studies have shown that you can retrain your way of thinking by doing this daily. Tell yourself, “You’re beautiful and unique and strong” Every. Single. Day. And before you know it, you may just start to believe it.