You hear these words thrown around a lot these days. What exactly does body positivity mean and should it be of any importance to you? The body positive movement has been taking the country by storm, referring not only to fat bodies, but also thin bodies, bodies that were born differently, bodies that have been ravaged by war, bodies that have had medical issues that have led to physical changes, and beyond. People are fed up with expectations and norms. Every body is different and unique. We all have different skin tones, different features, different metabolisms, and different genetics. Why does our culture dictate which bodies are considered beautiful? Even if all 330 million of us in the US ate the same exact thing and led the same exact lifestyles we would still all look different than one another. That is an extraordinarily beautiful thing, don’t you think? Do we really have as much control over our own body as we think we do? As you know, the American culture has constructed a body ‘ideal’ that is the pillar of beauty, and millions of us have been predisposed to unrealistic and unreachable expectations since childhood. I have great news though! Things are changing around here! Have you noticed? Larger women are modeling more size inclusive clothing, big brands are extending sizes, conversations are shifting about size and health, and the media is becoming more accepting across the board. I believe we are making real headway but we still have a long way to go! Body positivity means we are challenging the old social norms and encouraging a positive personal relationship with the one body that you were given during this short time on earth. Honoring your body by nourishing it, moving it, and respecting it is beauty. ‘Fixing’ your body is slowly becoming a thing of the past. No matter what physical differences you may have, you can learn to accept and love your own body the way it is today. Eliminating negative self talk, banishing unrealistic body expectations and saying no to harmful influences that make you feel like you are not good enough are healthy steps towards becoming more body positive. Body positivity is changing the course of the American beauty ideal and we are here for it!
Hi again Louisville, Danée here! Did you read that as Danny? Uh oh…that is incorrect but I promise I am used to it! My name is pronounced Dan-ae or like Ranée with a D. I am deeply committed to helping people find body positivity in their lives, can you tell? I am also the founder and organizer of Louisville’s plus size women empowerment group, BKPSWE. You may have read a couple of my past articles with Yes Louisville. One article was a book review featuring the book Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield.
The other article was about my Caribbean cruise that I took with The Curvy Fashionista gals. Now I am here to stay and write regularly with big plans to help bring more body positivity to our amazing community. I, an average girl from a small town in Northwest Indiana, grew up with the expectations of growing tall, having long blonde hair with long lean legs and a 24” waist, like all of the girls in the 1995 Teen Vogue. Back then Barbie was only 1 size and that was size skinny. Naturally as a teen I was blessed with thick brunette hair, chunky arms and legs, and an appetite that disregarded any serving size recommendation whatsoever. Long story short, I jumped on the diet culture band wagon at the ripe age of 15, which quickly developed into an eating disorder that lasted most of my adult life. Unfortunately these days girls are developing eating disorders as young as 8 years old! Oh man, if only I had the willpower, if only I had tried harder, if only I had xyz, then I would be perfect! After gaining and losing hundreds of pounds (weight cycling is extremely unhealthy) I am now 1 year into eating disorder recovery and charging full speed ahead on an intense journey to self love and acceptance. My heart aches at all the years I wasted being so obsessed with changing my size. How many things could I have accomplished in those 20 years? My life was completely consumed with how I was falling short of being beautiful because I thought I was fat. Food and body image controlled my every move and I was not ok living in the skin I was in. Who could love this fat girl with food problems? I needed to change it, but how and why would I fail every diet and why was my body not losing more weight? I would always dream about morphing into a body that everyone wanted me to have.
I am here to share this deeply personal message that no matter your size or shape, you can learn to love and respect the one body that you have been given. You may never believe that it is beautiful. That is ok. Self love takes time. Life is way too short and can be taken away from you at any moment. Living your life stressed out about fitting into those size 8 jeans that have been hanging on your door for 2 years is no life at all. You cannot punish your body. Your body does not deserve to starve, it does not deserve to be pushed beyond its limit in a gym, it does not deserve to be hated for having dimples, scars or rolls. It doesn’t deserve to be despised because it is less able than others. It doesn’t know or care that you might want to look like that actor on tv. I will never look like Cameron Diaz, NEVER! Am I ok with that? You better believe it. I look like me and there is no one else on this earth that looks just like me. I think that is pretty special, don’t you? Am I considered fat? Yes. Am I healthy? Absolutely. Do I struggle with my body image? Not like I used to.
I have found freedom and unshackled myself from the chains of this perceived perfection that never actually existed. I have learned to take care of and love my body, no matter what size and shape it is. Diet culture is a 70 billion dollar per year industry. Diet culture takes your body insecurity straight to the bank. Think about that! Does every body need good nutrition? Absolutely. Does every body need movement? Definitely. Do we deserve millions of companies telling us daily that we need their products because we don’t look like their thin privileged model holding a bottle of Hydroxycut on the beach? No. Plus, I even want to challenge the preconceived notion that thin equates to health. Because this is also untrue. We will get into that in a future article. Anyone sensing a little relief here? Isn’t it liberating to know that you can just be you? You can even learn to be a healthier (mentally and physically) version of you without changing your size and shape.
My goal is to dive into some topics in the upcoming months that will provide some insight about how we can work together to continue to shift the narrative on how diverse bodies are perceived in our thin-obsessed, fat-phobic and diet culture driven society. I also want to tackle some book reviews, interviews, current events and personal experiences. How can you live your best, healthiest, happiest life in the skin you are in? Again, body positivity is not just limited to big beautiful women. Men also need body positivity in their lives! I don’t know about you but I have no complaints when it comes to a legit Dad bod. Women also deal with being too thin and feeling like they need to gain weight but cannot. Thin women do NOT like to be told they need to eat a cheeseburger. This is a form of body shaming. Do you ever catch yourself shaming others for having a certain body type? Some of us are conditioned to label a fat person as lazy, or someone with a skin disorder as disgusting, or a thin person that just needs to eat! Weight stigma is known to have negative health effects and also encourages less healthy behaviors. Again, we will cover this at a later date. Just remember, all bodies are good bodies, period. In the meantime, be kind to your body and be kind to others.
I hope you are ready to ride the body positive train with me, Louisville. We have no time to waste! All aboard?