What does it truly mean to be body positive?
I have struggled with this concept for a long time. Perhaps, since I graduated from school.
Back when I was 18 and under, I never truly thought about body positivity, negativity, or even gave any attention to how my body looked like whatsoever. As long as I wasn’t bloated and didn’t feel like I was about to burst after eating a carbs-filled meal, I was okay. I went to the beach, wearing my bikini, and walked around without being self-conscious.
I saw girls in my school who had the athletic build and the slim-Victoria’s-Secret-model build, and mostly, I thought, “Nice! They must work out very often.”
Most of them were dancers.
I didn’t have time for physical activity except for that one hour per week during PE class at school. I spent most of my time studying, reading, going out with my friends to the movies or dinners, and spending “girly” time at home with my girls freaking out over the new “Twilight” movies.
And no one ever commented on my body.
I had thick thighs, a big butt, and relatively large hips. But I never noticed until I started my first year at the university.
Seeing that we didn’t have to wear a uniform there (unlike school) and it all depended on our choice of wardrobe, I started noticing how girls dressed up, showing off their abs through their crop tops, wearing shorts, and having a thigh gap.
And back in 2013, a thigh gap was all the rage.
I’ve met some people who commented on my thick thighs and started pressuring me to go to the gym to become “fit.”
Let me tell you something. My weight was not unhealthy. I just didn’t possess what society considered the “perfect body” back then. My thighs touched when I walked. I had a well-defined pear shape with my body being tiny from the waist up and larger from the waist down. And I didn’t exercise.
Some comments were encouraging, and some were just plain hurtful.
So, I started cutting down on food, working out more, and making myself hungry.
A few months later, I got food poisoning from a restaurant after eating a salad with bad mayonnaise. I couldn’t eat for a week. Lost so much weight that it was visible on my face and in my thighs that do not touch anymore.
And the compliments began. People were bewildered with my new appearance. But something changed in my body, and I was never able to go back to my previous weight anymore. Maybe it was my tame appetite, or maybe it was the gastro-problems that started developing after that food poisoning.
I started developing gluten-intolerance (I don’t know what the exact cause of that was, but any time I ingested a gluten-filled meal, my stomach screamed for help). I had heartburn from several types of food. And my IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) got even worse.
I went to a doctor’s, did all the necessary tests, and eventually, a certain diet was recommended for me—not the “lose or gain weight” diet, but the “take care of your gastro-health” diet.
A few years later, in a certain place (I’d rather not name), certain people started making comments about me being thin and that I need to eat more food. People kept outwardly expressing being envious of me for having the will to eat small portions of food (which, really, they’re normal). They kept commenting about me having an almost flat chest and recommending I get implants. What they didn’t know was that I struggled with food. If I ate above my capacity, I could risk going to the hospital. I felt nauseous whenever I ate one thing that wasn’t on my list of healthy things to eat. They didn’t know that I craved pizza, burgers, and manakish but could barely eat one bite without getting stomachache.
And then it hit me.
People will talk no matter what. We’re always going to be either too slim, too muscular, too plump, too…too…too… And what does that leave us with?
A bunch of words. Nothing more.
We are left with a bunch of fleeting comments. But that’s what they are. Fleeting.
While I spent a long while in my life struggling to accept that I will never have the perfectly toned legs and thighs, that I will never have the perfect model body, I also learned that I am beautiful in my own way.
My friends are beautiful in their own way.
Each one of us is beautiful in our own way.
Beauty standards change over time. It’s really just a trend. Back in the 2000s, it was having a flat stomach and slim legs and wearing jeans that reached just above the pelvis. Now, it’s having a thick butt and thighs, a large chest, and a tiny waist.
Who knows how it will be in the next decade? And do we really care?
We cannot generalize one beauty standard and apply it to all people because we are not the same. Some people go through a diet for long months and cannot become as slim as Kendall Jenner. Some people eat more than 3000 Kcal per day and cannot gain weight because of how their metabolism operates.
So, after years of struggling with my body image, I remind myself of these things when I’m being body positive:
>> Exercising is a way of loving my body.
>> Getting medically checked every now and then is a way of loving my body.
>> Eating the things that don’t hurt me is a way of loving my body.
>> Being gentle with myself when my mental health is affecting my eating habits is a way of loving my body.
>> As long as I’m being healthy, accepting my body shape is a way of loving my body.
>> Accepting that each person has a different body shape and size, including me, is a way of loving my body.
>> Giving myself time to rest is a way of loving my body.
>> Expressing confidence and self-love when others comment on my shape (slim or chubby) is a way of loving my body.
Now, I make it my mission to exercise, not to get the model-like body (there’s nothing wrong with having that as a motivation), but because it helps after hours of working on my laptop and killing my neck, and it helps with my stomach issues.
Now, I make it my mission to eat properly to reduce stomachaches as much as possible.
Now, I make it my mission to love my body in any way possible.
Now, I’m pretty damn proud of where I am. Physically and mentally.
How do you express love toward your body? Are you taking care of you?