How long have we as a culture been conditioned to believe that thin is healthy and fat is not? Do we automatically make this judgement from appearance? Are we considering mental health in the equation as well? What if bigger people were treated with the same respect and opportunities as smaller people?

Hi Louisville, my name is Danee Miller and I am the founder and organizer of Body Kindness Plus Size Women Empowerment of Louisville. BKPSWE is a social group of plus-sized women right here in Louisville that wants to challenge fat stigma. At close to 400 members since forming on April 1, 2019, BKPSWE has banded together to combat self hate and weight discrimination. We have created new friendships, support, love, healthy practices, exercise, and fun. We believe in being kind to our bodies and learning to love the skin we are in instead of punishing it for what it is not.

BKPSWE builds confidence and says goodbye to the haters because body shaming is real. Plus sized women are labeled lazy, ugly, unhealthy, undateable, unlovable, disgusting and a bad example. BKPSWE has pulled women off their couches and got them out dancing and exercising. We go out on the town to events, we go out to dinner, and we hosted an epic pool party where women got into a bathing suit for the first time in 14 years! We are just as important to society as thin women and we are just as beautiful! Members are taking care of themselves more, exercising more, buying clothes, going on dates, ditching diets, learning to eat intuitively and gaining self confidence that they never knew existed within them. We are unlike a typical meetup group; we are on a mission.

“The BKPSWE group on Meetup has truly been a blessing for me! I have become more confident and comfortable in my own skin and realized that no one can take that away from me! I love the types of outings the group has from shopping and dinner to more serious things like visiting a nutritionist. It’s so nice to learn incredible things from other women who know your struggles. I can happily say that I have put away my scale because I know it does not define me!” – Kayla (BKPSWE member) 

“Since joining BKPSWE I’ve felt like this weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Being surrounded by such body positive women ignites a flame in my heart for myself and for them. I’ve learned to embrace myself when just 5 months ago I would find any way to hide myself. I have become a self loving woman who isn’t afraid to tell the world who she is.” – Emily (BKPSWE member)

Fat is not a dirty word and you CAN be healthy and happy in a fat body. Women are conditioned from a young age to believe that they need to look like the most popular Instagram model and need to do whatever possible to meet those standards. What they don’t understand, and most will refuse to believe, is that all bodies are different. We all carry weight differently. We are all different heights. We all have different nose shapes. We all have different metabolisms. Accepting our bodies for what they are is the first step to achieving self love. Once you achieve this you will start to see things differently and begin to treat your body as your friend. Once you learn to love your body for what it is you will start to nurture it, feed it well, move it regularly, and work your muscles to stay strong. You will get enough sleep, take breaks, educate your mind and fill your life with positivity.

Body Kindness of Louisville has structured our group agenda around the book Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield. This book is a science backed life changer. If you have ever struggled with chronic dieting, disordered eating, body shaming, self confidence due to weight issues, and self hate, this book will clear the cluttered mess of lies you have been taught all these years. Diet culture pretends to be about health and wellness but it actually ends up making us sicker, both physically and mentally. Dieting is ineffective 95% of the time and can lead to plenty of issues, one being disordered eating. Body Kindness simplifies health. It’s not hard and you do not have to go to extremes to be a healthy individual! The sigh of relief was an audible and physical experience for me while reading this book! 

Body Kindness is presented in 4 parts. What you do, how you feel, who you are, and where you belong. You will start with a few tasks, such as: Break up with your scale, cleanse yourself from ‘diet talk’, throw out future diet plans, banish diet foods, and hide calorie trackers. ‘Spiraling up’ is the metaphor for growing in body kindness and happiness. Choices that serve you will help to create the spiral up pattern that Rebecca Scritchfield mentions quite often in this book. Spiraling up is gradually building positive emotions one by one, on top of one another to stay strong and emotionally healthy and ready to tackle and eliminate negative emotions. 

Chapters 1 and 2 are all about food. It really helped put all of the puzzle pieces back together that were jumbled in my brain. Why was eating so difficult. Why did I feel so defeated when it came to food choices. Why was I so scared to eat a cupcake?! I was terrified to be labeled as fat, but why? Why did it have to be that way? It was like a Yes Louisville light bulb flashing above my head! 

Chapters 3 and 4 talk about fitness and sleep. I, for one, have a hate relationship with fitness because all I ever associated it with was weight loss and punishment! Oh how different it is now! Fitness is something I should enjoy and it does NOT need to be strenuous to be effective! Body Kindness states that your amazing body was born to move and should include sustainable exercise or movement where enjoyment, consistency and health converge. Big women need exercise. We need to love our beautiful bodies with exercise EVEN if no weight loss is involved! Sleep is also a staple in the Body Kindness concept. Sleep is a mind-body rejuvenation that helps you become your best – inside and out. 

Chapters 5 and 6 are all about feelings and fun. All feelings are important to your well being because they offer guidance for decision making. Mastering how you handle your emotions is key to transforming your health habits. Also, learning to make time for fun is super important and you shouldn’t feel guilty for honoring the desire for fun! One thing that BKPSWE loves to do is have fun together in a positive safe-space environment.

Chapters 7 and 8 are about bouncing back and deciding what you stand for. We all go through bad patches in life, and this section is amazing because it sets realistic expectations for dealing with life issues. How do we recover? What are our next actions? Deciding what you stand for is a big step. I decided very quickly after reading this book that I was going to create a life I wanted to live. Body Kindness states that with every choice you make you have the power to move closer to the life you want to live. When you set goals that are consistent with your values you create an emotional connection with who you really are inside.

Chapters 9 and 10 are about transforming your health with action and befriending yourself. Befriending myself is a continuing challenge. These chapters dig deep with real activities to help you get to know yourself on a whole new level. 

Chapter 11 and 12 are about nurturing your closest connections and building your Body Kindness tribe. What if you don’t have a local group like BKPSWE to help you on your journey? This chapter shows you how to find people to reach out to and it helps you learn how to tell if these connections are healthy and helpful.

When I finished this book my life took a major shift and I wondered how many other women were struggling with these same issues right here in Louisville? How could I help them? How could we get together to talk about some of these things? Could we really get women on board to start changing lives and learning about self love, plus size health, and fat acceptance? Could we also get out and about in Louisville and have fun?  The answer was YES LOUISVILLE we can and we do!  

Danee Miller

BKPSWE Louisville

Follow Body Kindness Plus Sized Women Empowerment on Facebook and Instagram! You can also JOIN their body positive meet-up HERE!

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