Is the New Brand of Body Positivity Actually Hurting Us?


And no, it's not because being fat isn't healthy

by Najva Sol, Brand Director

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Trigger warning: disordered eating and body issues

My body and I have a complicated history. My earliest memory of my learned “fear of fatness” was in third grade, at a local ice-skating rink. There was a girl in a very sparkly outfit doing jumps, and I told my mom I wanted to be just like her. “No you don’t,” she responded, “she’s fat.” While my mom (and my entire mother’s side) tend to be long and lean-ish, my father’s side (particularly the women) tend to be curvier, and often, clinically obese. I was always a slightly larger boned child, so my parents were adamant (and ever vigilant) that I shouldn’t follow in my paternal footsteps.

I know this “worry” came from a good place, but it often left me feeling picked on and angry. Like the time I stepped away from the dinner table and overheard my mom tell my friends to “encourage me to eat less.” Or that time my dad looked at my fro-yo (while we were with company) and asked, “Do you really need to finish that?” But this fear for my (possibly fat) future didn’t stop there. From ages eight to sixteen I was highly competitive in Tae Kwon Do, so I was regularly crash dieting before tournaments and getting weighed in public. And when I say crash dieting, I mean full windbreaker workouts in the sauna and multiple days of just flavored water and gum. Nothing like having your weight yelled out in a room full of middle school mean girls to make your self-esteem crumble. My early college career was punctuated by liquid diets, steamed veggies, and fat free grilled chicken. No matter how “thin” I got, I’d look at photos and zero in on the size of my arms, or the lack of thigh gap. In short, my early years were a mess of internalized fatphobia, and my harshest judgments were reserved for myself.

As I got older and my body filled out, I added another complication to the mix: I realized my gender is fluid. Though it’s not obvious to most, I do identify as gender-queer, and while it was easier to move along the spectrum when I was less shapely, my curves can feel like burdens of femininity. Loose, androgynous clothing catches on my chest, and skinny jeans look less Patti Smith/Ruby Rose and more Jennifer Lopez/Amber Rose. My irrational fears became tri-fold: fear for my health (though my doctor assured me I was fine), fear of being alone (though I’ve had my fair share of suitors), and finally, fear of my making my identity invisible (even though, deep down, I know all gender is a performance).

My lovely (gender-nonconforming) humps

Most days, I think I’m past all the illogical negative thinking. I wear crop tops, don’t own a scale, and (mostly) never shame myself about eating dessert. My sweetie thinks my body’s bangin’ and I can actually take the compliment. Also, therapy happened.

But in the time I’ve grown, there’s been a cultural shift. Gone are the Kate Moss/Fiona Apple “thinspiration” of my younger days, and instead the word on the street is “body positive.” Apparently, buxom people (mostly women) decided to band together, rise up, and support one another. (While flexing their incredible combined spending power.) The messages of self-love are everywhere: Beyoncé thinks you’re flawless when you wake up. Feminist Instagram wants you to #honoryourcurves and tell the man “#effyourbeautystandards!” Dove hopes you realize how beautiful you are inside. Pantene just wants to remind you that you’re worth it. Aerie (American Eagle’s underwear line) wants you to be proud of your flaws! Musicians, models, heck, even (read: especially) brands… all of a sudden everyone wants me to know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Which, in theory, seems like a pretty great thing, right? (And to be fair, is probably really awesome for the next generation of girls.)

But for me? It’s not that simple.

Why? Because a few weeks ago I tried to go ski pant shopping and couldn’t fit in a single pair of pants on the women’s side. Turns out, absurdly, the largest size the store carried was a ten. I ended up crying on the street corner, eating consolation red velvet cupcakes. And as I sat there feeling ugly from changing room lights that highlighted my cellulite, ashamed of my diet and the resultant hips, wondering if this was the universe telling me I was too fat to ski… I was reminded just how deep the self-loathing runs. I was totally blaming myself for the store’s shitty sizing choices. The fatphobic programming didn’t just disappear because it’s no longer trendy to have body dysmorphia. Stores don’t magically all carry a full range of sizes, leading ladies didn’t become body diverse overnight, and all the broken body standards I was taught to aspire to aren’t undone by a few ad campaigns, pop songs, or hashtags.

You should go and love yourself

And that’s why logging into the interwebs and seeing body positivity and self-love as intersectional feminist requirements makes me cringe sometimes. It’s wonderful movement, and I fully believe that other people’s beauty comes in all shapes and sizes… just not my own. Body positive? Shoot, I’m aiming for body “I don’t hate you today” or body “I’m grateful you exist and take me places” or even just body “you’re okay I guess.” It’s dangerous to feel like a bad feminist just because I haven’t undone years of insecurity about how thick my thighs are. There shouldn’t be guilt in feeling the shame you were taught—by the majority of society—to feel.

So for the rest of us—who maybe haven’t managed to love ourselves in all (unflattering overhead) lights: it’s okay to not be okay. I propose #Bodymeh as an acceptable feminist Instagram hashtag. Our accomplishments don’t count for less because we still secretly think we’d be more attractive if we lost a few pounds. Maybe some days we don’t think we’re beautiful and who cares? (And who said beauty’s always a goal?) As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine to feel ambivalent about your body some days, not like it other days, and only like it from particular angles or in particular outfits. And if you (like me) want to strategically hide your curves to instead of honor them? I’m not judging you.

Najva Sol

Najva Sol is a queer Iranian-American writer, photographer, branding consultant, artist, and ex-poet.  She’s the token staff Slytherin and—while formally based in Brooklyn—tends to travel as much as possible. Storytelling is her life, but making chicken broth is a close second.

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  • Juanita

    I love love this post. It’s been the theme for some of my recent blogging. And I have to say I love my body. Mostly, which is to say some days I look at my body and I appreciate. I think it’s beautiful, I don’t think about losing weight. It’s good. But mostly I just don’t even think about it. Or what I’m wearing and this is apparently unusual. Often I’m just glad I can take long walks and not feel like dying. Or that I can but a comfy pair of jeans that don’t squeeze my butt. So I’m all for #bodymeh especially cause not only are all of us thin we’re not all able bodies either. Just not hating would be an improvement for some of my friends.

  • Amy March

    Really interesting. Lately I’m feeling like why do I need to be super into my body? I feel fine about it most of the time, great sometimes, and not great sometimes. But mostly I feel like feeling fabulous about how I look is just not particularly important most days!

    • Juanita

      Exactly sometimes it still seems like so much of body positivity is connected to being attractive. “We are all beautiful”. Maybe I have a body and it’s mine and I care for it is good enough.

    • kate

      This post and discussion remind me of this awesome story:
      http://yourebeingridiculous.com/the-print-edition/14210601

      • Victwa

        That was delightful. Thank you.

      • Her Lindsayship

        “You either have to be like the sign and think all bugs are beautiful including those hairy ones that look like dancing unattached eyebrows or you have to be like me and respect bugs for their purpose on earth, think they are cool in their own creepy ways and still be okay with smashing them dead if they touch you or come inside your house.”

        HILARIOUS. And lovely. Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily

      I agree with this… in fact, I choose not to spend much time and energy thinking about how I look. I want to spend my time and energy in other places.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      This is me too. I used to be super into feeling like I had to look amazing (to me) because in my mind looking amazing translated to feeling amazing. I still spend a good amount of brain power choosing my outfits for the week but this time it’s more that I want to make sure I’m comfortable; cute isn’t even a factor. I’ve adopted my late maternal grandma’s saying: you look as good as you can. Good enough for me.

  • Sara

    I feel very #bodymeh all the time. I’m learning to teach aerial fitness (which, if you asked any of my friends they would tell you that I would rather be caught dead than at a gym) so I’m probably lost some weight lately. And some shirts fit better, so yay. But I also have a giant chest so anything flowy or baggy makes me look very round and shapeless. And a lot of time times, I’m in favor of comfort over appearance. Hell – weekends, I basically live in hoodies. I also developed young and got a lot of talk about ‘covering up’ and ‘appropriate’ shirts so I’ve never really been in love with my body. More scared of what looks like to other people I guess.
    But there’s a few days a month where I’m not bloated, and having a good hair day, and my skin is clear where I think I look pretty damn good. So I’ll take the mostly meh with the good days instead of being worrying about maintaining those good days (plus I like doritos too much to really be serious about maintaining).

  • JLily

    “Maybe some days we don’t think we’re beautiful and who cares? (And who said beauty’s always a goal?)” THIS. I think the shift to body positivity is important for a number of reasons but it still results in a ton of focus on the physical body. Inspiration in my life comes from people in a range of shapes and it is just never the most important thing about those people. Thank you for the reminder to internalize that thinking, because it’s so difficult sometimes.

  • macrain

    I was recently introduced to the idea that body positivity can be harmful and hindering because it conflicts with the idea that we are more than just our bodies. Certainly ideas about what is considered beautiful have expanded, but isn’t that kind of just taking us right back to square one- a conflated obsession with personal appearance? Is that feminist? (For the record I don’t know! But I think it’s an interesting argument worth pondering.)
    For me personally, someone who has struggled with ED, it would be hard for me to take body positivity out of the equation in terms of my own recovery. I found a lot of joy in embracing and loving something I once hated. And heck yes, I am still a feminist.
    I am almost 9 months pregnant now, which has thrown a whole new wrench into things, but that is probably something to save for another time. :)

    • macrain

      Here is the article I was referencing, definitely dense but a good read:
      http://www.beautyredefined.net/empowerment-body-positive-interview/

    • Lawyerette510

      I think about this often. It seems that body positivity has transitioned from something that was pushing back against messaging around how bodies (especially of those who society identifies as women) should look, what people should be doing to fit that standard more and the industries and power-structures that profit from us trying to reach those standards (think The Beauty Myth), and how people should feel about their body based on how it compares to certain standards, to something that is now dictating how people should feel about their bodies and is being used to further comodify bodies/ appearance. So in short, yes, I agree with you that it just focuses us back on our appearance. Additionally, the bodies that are represented in the mainstream takes on body positivity are often the similar proportions (and the emphasis on having and showing breasts and ass) with a continued representation of hyper-feminine but in a larger size.

      • Alison O

        Yes to your last point. In terms of overall mass I am smaller (and not just due to height) than some plus-size models, but my proportions are much less…..well, what is generally considered…desirable. Also I don’t have great hair extensions, a spray tan, great makeup, etc. Models are models at any size. They’re not chosen because they’re truly representative of the average person. They’re “lucky” to be conventionally beautiful in a lot of ways, if not strictly in terms of overall mass.

  • Kirsten

    My mom has a slight problem with the body-positive movement. Yes, she believes it’s unproductive and unhealthy to hate your body, no matter what it looks like. On the other hand, there was no such movement when she was young. There was not much need. Looking at her yearbooks from the seventies, you can’t even find an overweight person. She believes something has happened to the food, because people did not exercise more and exercise isn’t as much of a factor in weight as we think according to studies. It’s all about the food. She always says “What happened to our food?”

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Agreed. Though I also look at old photos of my Italian family, and it makes me feel better because I’m like, “Oh, well, clearly some of my body was just predetermined by genes.” It’s fascinating, because you can see which of my lineage was just…always going to be skinny (my cousin, my grandmother), and who were always going to be a bit on the chubbier side (me, my other cousin, my great aunt). BUT. All that said, I do agree there is something humongously fucked up with our food.

      • Lawyerette510

        The lineage part is so interesting. I was talking to my doctor and trying to sort through my desire to be healthy and have my body work as well as it can for as long as it can (because people on both sides of my family tend to live well into their 90s) while also not focusing on what my body looks like. Her response after a general intro was to ask me about the bodies of the women in my bio-family and use that as one data point to think about in terms of what my body may be predisposed to in terms of size.

        • EF

          definitely a big player here is genetics. i’m about 40-50lbs lighter than every other biological female in my family. and i’m not small, but a size 12; the smallest I ever was, when I was literally training with the national ice hockey team, was a size 8. genetic pre-disposition, indeed.

      • Kirsten

        Yeah. No one could possibly believe that all of a sudden, people just forgot how to eat. Go back a few decades and the difference in people is really shocking. An old lady recently told me she owned a women’s clothing store way back, and they didn’t have plus sizes. They didn’t need to and no one complained. People have not gotten lazy. Mom says people exercised less. It is the food and I wish we could figure it out because people are made to feel bad about something that isn’t even about them. She says she noticed the difference beginning in the 90s. She’s even more shocked by all the fat children and teens. I tried to find anyone in her yearbook and gave up. And she went to a big school!

        • Jessica

          At the suggestion of a nutritionist, I’ve given up eating grains for the past few months. It’s extremely difficult to find foods that don’t have wheat or corn in them, including salad dressings, some juices, sauces (like BBQ) and basically anything that is already prepared and on any regular grocery store shelf. This indicates that people are eating a lot more carbs and sugar that they probably realize.

          • Rowany

            does that include rice? that would be impossible for me.

          • Jessica

            It does. I’m trying to determine now if how good I feel is worth giving up curry and pastries.
            And beer. Good God I miss beer.

          • Rowany

            how much better DO you feel? you’ll probably start adding some stuff back to figure out what’s affecting you right?

          • Jessica

            I feel AMAZING. I have a ton more energy, no more drastic mood swings, and in general just don’t feel like crap anymore (which I did not realize I felt like crap then, I just forgot what not feeling like crap was). I contribute this to the diet and the increase in exercise (being able to go up X pounds while lifting is an amazing feeling).

            I’ve been eating a bit of flour here and there, but from what I hear re-introduction can be a bitch. I also accidentally drank something with high fructose corn syrup on my vacation in March and got a terrible migraine, so highly processed stuff like that will stay out permanently.

          • Rowany

            That’s awesome! Well here is me hoping for you that it’s just highly processed grains that are affecting you, and that you can still feel amazing eating whole grains! It’s amazing how you get used to feeling crappy. I’m lactose intolerant and have weirdly-shaped feet and for YEARS just thought that random stomach-aches and cramped/numb toes after running was normal!

          • Eenie

            I make an exception for corn (because tacos!!) and that’s how I live my life (I think you were doing paleo type stuff?). Gluten and rice mess up my system too much. The one downside to clean cooking and eating (we only eat out once a week at most) is when we go on vacation we pretty much feel like crap. We may start doing AirBNB so we can cook our own food more often.

          • Jessica

            We did AirBnB on our vacation in March and it helped, but I still didn’t feel great since we ate out about once a day. I had a medium sized purse and filled it with snacks!

          • Fiance has cut his daily carb intake to under 50g (does that sound right?) and basically completely cut out sugar. He finds hidden carbs and sugar in so.much.food.

            Heck, I once found corn starch on the ingredient list for Lipton tea bags. So.

          • Jessica

            That sounds really low. I have my carb goal set for 188g/day (about 50% of my macronutrients). I had broccoli for dinner at that had 12g in it. There’s no way to cut out carbs completely.

            I don’t eat out very much anymore, and mainly make a meal with two vegetables and a protein to make sure I’m full and that I know exactly what is going into my body.

            And then have a mixed drink and mess it all up.

        • Meg Keene

          I think it’s food. But also it’s lifestyle, I’d guess. I mean, I sit at my desk all day. My grandmother cleaned and ran after her kid all day. That means I have to go to the gym, and she never did.

          • Jessica

            At the same time, there is a certain class of men who sat at their desks all day and also weren’t overweight.

          • Meg Keene

            Well, I mean, lets not sugar coat the past. There were plenty of men who sat at their desks all day and were overweight. There was less obesity, but there were plenty of chubby middle aged people. Always have been and always will be, because that’s how the human body works. Men at desks in the 50s didn’t look like Don Draper on the average.

            I think the way we look at bodies at the moment is through the lens of what 18 or 20 year old bodies look like, for people with particular genetics. I more or less have the genetics that we’ve decided to idealize, but at 35, for me to maintain anything close to what we’ve decided is a “healthy” looking body, I have to watch what I eat and work out quite a bit. Just because bodies in adulthood/ middle age/ whatever we want to call it don’t naturally look like what we as a culture has decided is “healthy” or “normal.” I’ve had two kids! My body doesn’t want to look like it did at 25 anymore. That’s not it’s healthy! Same for dudes at desks in middle age.

          • Aubry

            I was reading an interesting article recently that compared an average sample of north american and European people to indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures in very development-neglected parts of Africa. They found (and were very surprised to see) that their daily exercise based caloric burn was almost identical to that of the north american and European people. And of course there is basically no obesity in these cultures. So the conclusion is that it really is food and not exercise that plays a huge roll in the growing waistlines of the developed world.
            http://www.vox.com/2016/4/28/11518804/weight-loss-exercise-myth-burn-calories

          • TeaforTwo

            I think it’s both. And it’s not just about going back in time. In my mid-twenties, I moved from a small Canadian city where I was going to spinning or yoga classes 4x/week to Paris where I did not once exercise on purpose (as in jogging or going to a gym) and ate an eclair every single day for a year, and steak frites with creamy blue cheese sauce more than once a week.

            I lost 30lbs in the first six months. Thirty. Pounds.

            I was eating insanely rich food, but the portions in France were tiny (if you order a Coke at the movies, you get a glass bottle that’s just under 8 oz), French people don’t really snack, and even with an incredible public transportation system, you still wind up doing a lot of walking to get around the city.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          It’s obviously multi-factorial, but I think a possible trigger was when we started dieting as a culture. The bigger the diet industry gets, the more obese our country becomes. (Which I think is directly related to how food is formulated. We waged a war on fat, which means that everything since the 80s has had to be flavored in other ways, largely with added sugar, and tons of processed ingredients.)

          But also, these are my predecessors in what I think was the 60s. Clearly not skinny people. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23b5565889a95c2415a7bf5b76cfb0d85d02bc81fa629a622b9732475e5098e9.jpg

    • Caitlyn

      We stopped cooking. We stopped eating real food. We now eat out constantly. We eat prepared food all the time. Even when we cook at home we use tons and tons of “time-saving” “convenience” foods = chemical filled, processed “food”. We also shifted our mindset. Fruit used to be a treat. Dessert used to be something people ate once in a while. When women stayed home – they had an entire day to cook food from scratch. Once they started working, they didn’t have the time anymore. Home Economics used to be a required class for all females. And yup there is a lot of gender issues with that. But if you can step outside of that, you know what? They used to teach nutrition in school to the majority of the people who then cooked for families. Of course I don’t think it should be required for women – I think it should be required for everyone. Really, I think we should offer “Home Ec” (or “Life Class”) in high school and it should be required for all students. It should teach the basics of managing finances, budgeting, grocery shopping, menu planning (including nutrition), cooking a few simple dishes, etc. I was astonished when I got to college and realized that quite a few of my classmates had no idea how to cook even the most basic of meals. Or compare unit prices in the grocery store. Or understand food groups and the food pyramid. I get that wouldn’t magically solve everything. The reality is that in the 70’s they didn’t have many of the temptations that we do now. It’s harder to resist the junk food now that it exists and it’s in our face 24/7. But at least if people had the knowledge it would help.

      • Greta

        yup yup yup – the way we eat, and the food we eat have massively changed. Just read the Omnivore’s dilemma, or many other food books that have been written, or check out any of the interested food documentaries out there. It’s all about the sugar these days. There’s a cool documentary out there called King Corn where these 2 guys try to not eat any corn for 30 days to really get a sense of how prevalent corn is in EVERYTHING (read: corn syrup) and man – it is fascinating. They are super challenged to do it.

  • cellulite is dumb

    yes. I went bathing suit shopping this weekend and had this horrible moment of remembering how much I hate my thighs and am NOT excited to show them when I’m swimming this summer, which I intend to be doing a lot of because i love the water more than life… but for a moment wondered if they make bathing suits that go to the knees. and… i’m not okay about the whole thing, but i needed to hear that it’s okay to not be okay. :) and be trying to get to a healthy mental AND physical place, but in the meantime, just be gentle with myself.

    • Olivia

      Being gentle with yourself is key, I think, both in trying to be healthier and trying to be more body neutral/positive.

    • Danielle

      I had a stressful time a few weeks ago while shopping for new pants. I’ve gained a little weight and selected a few pairs in the size up from what i normally wear. But those didn’t fit. So I had to buy pants that are two sizes larger than what I’m used to.

      And I felt like crying. “How did I get so fat?” (Note : I’m not actually fat.) And then I felt bad for being shallow and not feminist.

      Yes, let’s be gentle with ourselves.

      Ps: I like my new pants. Hope you enjoy swimming. That’s the best.

  • savannnah

    This is so topical as I am playing head games with myself around any efforts or attempts I have at loosing weight before my wedding–well I should say I’m using the wedding as a motivational factor but have been unhappy with my fitness level, weight and appearance (all three separate and yet intertwined issues..for me and my body) for most of my adult life. I do feel the need to over justify my weight loss efforts because I’m engaged which is uncomfortable. I am at my heaviest ever and would like to lose weight for a number of reasons but my main motivating factor is that I am sized out of most mainstream stores and its just a huge bummer and annoyance and it does straight up make me sad. But I don’t hate my body. My body and I are in this together-for the long haul, its my oldest and most permanent relationship. I have a lot of feelings about my body- I wish it weren’t so big, I love my boobs, I don’t appreciate my back fat, I adore my freckly face, my toes are extra long and freak people out…etc. .

    • knolan12

      I hear you there. I’m in that “pre-engaged” state, but have a fit every time I think about getting married because I don’t want to get married at the size I am. I think, “It’ll be great motivation!” but then I realize that every other thing I’ve tried to use as motivation hasn’t worked and I’m terrified I’m going to cry on my wedding day, not because I’m happy, but because I’m sad that I don’t look the way I envisioned.

      • Jessica

        I understand the hang ups about ‘motivation,’ but sometimes a specific event (which means a specific date) is a good motivation, because you can lay out a concrete goal and then break it down into steps to get there. For me, at least, that made it a little less overwhelming.

        For instance, my brother’s wedding is coming up and I decided I wanted to be at a certain weight (that I had been at before and felt good at). I broke it down to a week-by-week goal. If I was a little bit off after a couple weeks, I could adjust.

        I’ve found it does not work for me to just want to ‘be healthier.’ It’s not how my brain gets motivated.

        • savannnah

          Both of these ideas are in my head at all times. Its confusing and annoying and takes up so much of my headspace.

      • savannnah

        “I’m terrified I’m going to cry on my wedding day, not because I’m happy, but because I’m sad that I don’t look the way I envisioned” – This is my main motivation beyond shopping at H&M, and it might not be morally right with my feminist brain but it is where the center of my self control is right now and I’v made peace with it.

      • This was me, both with the lack of motivation and worry that I’d hate how I looked on my wedding day. In the end, I felt beautiful, and I like all but 5 of my wedding photos so I never show or look at that 5 and I’m good.

    • LittleOwl

      Yes!!! I got married in January and I had so many of these feelings the year prior to the wedding. Every few months or so I would think “should I try and look different for the wedding?”. I finally was able to let those thoughts go out of sheer distraction as the wedding got closer

  • AP

    This is so tough for me, for a lot of reasons. Practicing gratitude for the body I have is an ongoing effort, and part of that effort is not to stress too much about what/how much I eat and how active I am. As long as I feel pretty good about the balance in my life- regular activity, eating healthy foods more often than not, and taking care of my mental health- I try not to worry. I get a health screening every year and so far it’s all good, and for that I’m grateful. (Also, I’m a dietitian who’s had to unlearn lots of questionable nutrition advice over my career, so I’m wary of adhering too strictly to food/fitness rules. I’ve seen the sometimes terrible effects of this. My favorite health model is Health at Every Size.)

    On the other hand, someone very close to me (ahem) is a fitness junkie. The way he treats his body looks like punishment to me. His diet is highly regimented, he often stresses about eating/not eating certain foods, and his schedule revolves around his gym routine. And honestly, he’s got a great body that people compliment all the time. I try to be supportive, but sometimes it worries me. His body image is so tied up in how his muscles look, how much he weighs, how “good” he’s been about his diet. I know a lot of his feelings have to do with his being overweight as a teen, and that he has to work harder than most to stay healthy. But I’m conflicted by both my training (which has me highly attuned to the warning signs for disordered eating) and my own desire for balance vs wanting him to feel good about himself/his body *and* not wanting to add to any pressure/messages he’s getting about his body. Also? I have to actively not compare my body/diet/activity level to his, and that’s a whole other complication. This body thing can be So. Exhausting.

    • Sosuli

      I totally feel you on the conflicted feelings about your friend. I have two (female) friends who have recently started lifting and counting their protein intake and calories and cutting out sugar and being at the gym at 5 AM. I’m trying not to judge and just be okay with them having a new passion with being “healthy” but it is giving me serious throwback to being a teenager and having two friends competing over their diets… both ending up getting hospital treatment for anorexia.

      • Mary Jo TC

        What bugs me about this is the way the fitness obsession begins to take over every conversation you have with these people. I just get sick of hearing about how many miles you run each day and the things you don’t eat (but I eat and you know it). Any one-track conversation is boring, but I find fitness gurus are more prone to it than people with other obsessions. Or maybe it’s just the ones I’ve known.

        • Eenie

          Haha, this is why they need their own fitness friends to gush to! I generally keep lifting talk to a minimum unless you also lift and talk about it with me. My mom will call me to talk crossfit PRs and such because I react appropriately and so she doesn’t have to talk about it elsewhere and annoy people.

    • Mer

      So I’m sort of one of those people. In some ways. I am a competitive powerlifter so I count my macros. I eat pretty ‘healthy’ (which means different things to different people…). I workout a lot. I don’t drink very often. I don’t often eat dessert. But! I think the difference lies in that I don’t equate any of that, or how I look, to my self worth. I follow a fairly regimented diet and workout solely to increase my performance in a sport that I love. I think tying it all up in self-worth and self-image is where it becomes detrimental.

      Also. I don’t talk about it unless people ask. And lots of people do! I assume because I’m female and I love to lift heavy weights, which usually don’t go together. Then throw in that I compete and people ask a lot of questions.

      • Sosuli

        This is exactly why I’m trying not to judge my friends who are into lifting! Even though (because of past experiences) the calorie counting sends off some warning signals for me, I don’t know what is going on inside for them and I currently have no reason to believe that either of my protein-tallying friends are basing their self-worth on fitness. Awesome that you have an activity that you love in your life!

        • Eenie

          In my anecdotal experience, women in general hardly ever eat enough protein to fuel their bodies when they start tracking it. So it can be a good thing to track, it’s not always about trying to limit calories, but get the right balance too. If you start lifting more than before, you need to fuel your body differently.

      • AP

        Absolutely. He did a full Iron Man a few years ago, and it’s one of his proudest achievements. I respect the hell out of his dedication to reaching those goals. Things got a lot better for us when we stopped trying to work out/plan meals together, though. The day he came home from the gym flexing his bicep and asking me to measure it, I was like “nope, not comfortable with that, you need to find someone else who can do that for you.” Now we do our individual routines and we’re both happy. We have vastly different body image beliefs, so it’s best if we just don’t share this part of our lives with each other!

    • Her Lindsayship

      Someone very close to me (ahem) is not quite a fitness junkie but seems to put a lot of his self worth into his body too, like your guy. It’s been interesting learning how body shaming has affected his life in ways completely different than how it’s affected mine – he’s always been very skinny, which is not the masculine ideal. I, on the other hand, have a body that conforms fairly well to beauty standards for women except that I still feel fat a lot of the time, I’m six feet tall, and I think my boobs are too big (how dare a woman take up so much space!) and then beauty standards for women are always double edged bullshit where there is no winning in the first place. Like most women, my struggle has been characterized by people constantly commenting on my figure, my height, and my attractiveness since I was a kid, and I just very much want to NOT THINK about it.

      Anyway the result is basically he goes on fitness kicks and wants to encourage me to do the same because for him it’s this great self esteem boost. For me it can be, but only to a certain extent – I refuse to weigh myself, and like you, I have to actively not compare myself to him. (Also, he gets results so much more quickly and visibly than I do, which is discouraging no matter how hard I try to be a Good Feminist and see the beauty in my body.) Sometimes I’m just not here for it and would rather spend my energy elsewhere, and I think at those times he gets concerned that I don’t care about my health. I’ve tried explaining the exhaustion to him, but a lifetime of insidious comments and internalized sexism is freaking difficult to distill in conversation. And THEN I’m trying not to encourage the body-as-self-worth thing for his part too, so. To sum it up: solidarity.

      • Mer

        Yeah. WTF to dudes being able to “clean up their diet” and drop 10# in a month. If I want to drop 10# (which I am currently attempting to do because I compete in a weight-class based sport and well… yeah…) I have to be SO CAREFUL with what I eat. It’s a solid, consistent effort that will probably take 3-4 months. Not like drop the beer and cookies and bam 10# gone.

      • AP

        YES. I think he’s sometimes bewildered that I’m a dietitian who refuses to weight myself and thinks I don’t care about my health. But I just care about the big picture of my health, which is a different thing altogether and for me prioritizes mental health. (And don’t get me started on our culture’s weight=health conflation.) When I get too hung up on counting anything, I start sliding into controlling/judging behaviors around my food and body. Which he does not understand, because to him, control is a good thing and is precisely what he wants. I dread the day he has an injury or an illness that he can’t control- he will have NO tools for dealing with it.

        • Her Lindsayship

          I, for one, really like your approach to nutrition. Everyone has different means of self-care, but mine is definitely more like yours than my bf’s. I bet your healthy behaviors and attitudes rub off on your guy in some ways.

  • I’m 100% here for body neutrality, and for allowing people the space to see their body as JUST A BODY. It’s a collection of fat and muscle and bone and tissue and it doesn’t all have to be so fraught. Some days I love my body, some days I don’t totally like it, but mostly I am aiming for not THINKING about it that much, and freeing up that space for other things. It doesn’t always work, but that’s my goal…just thinking of my weight as as neutral as my height or my body temperature or whatever.

    • AP

      “but mostly I am aiming for not THINKING about it that much, and freeing up that space for other things”

      YES. This is what I strive for, as well.

    • BD

      This pretty much wraps up how I feel. I wish we could collectively move away from this idea that women HAVE to feel beautiful. I don’t wear makeup, nor do I bother to fix my hair most days, because I just don’t care about makeup or hair products or anything cosmetic. My husband tells me I’m beautiful even without all that stuff – it’s nice to hear, but being beautiful is not really the point of anything that I do, and I feel like he’s trying to reassure me of something I didn’t even need to know in the first place.

      • Shelby

        I used to drive a public bus and I was one of a couple of hot young drivers. Ppl would compliment my appearance all the time and I hated it. I felt I was on display, that they considered me an ornament to admire, and nothing else about me or my skills mattered.

    • Mary Jo TC

      It strikes me that this is the way many men feel about their bodies. They just don’t seem to think or care much about their bodies unless they’re giving them trouble of some kind. Imagine how much time and energy that must save them!

      • Lisa

        Not to mention money!

      • Anon

        Ugh, it kills me daily that my husband and I wake up at the same time, he still lays in bed while I shower, and yet manages to shower and get dressed while I’m still putting on makeup. If he didn’t wait for me, he could realistically have over an extra hour every week of time for work or other things (not to mention the extra hour of soeep he DOES get while i’m in the bathroom). That adds up, y’all. And I hate that I know he thinks it’s my choice to fill in my eyebrows and apply several varying layers of things designed to make me look smoother and smell better. And I hate that I agree – it IS my choice and yet, I feel obligated by society to seek “my best self”, and also, I look better with blush.

      • That’s a huge and inaccurate generalization. Men totally worry about their weight/size/body fat and some spend inordinate amounts of energy on nutrition and regimes to build muscle and attain a certain look…

      • raccooncity

        …except their penises…

    • Rowany

      ESPECIALLY once I started charting my cycle and realized that how much I loved my body (even what I even think my face looks like) follows my hormones! Makes so much sense now that I feel sexiest during ovulation.

    • Jenny

      I agree with the body neutrality, but for me hearing messages from the body positive movement is the only way I was able to move to any semblance of neutral. When everything about society is telling you you are not worthy because of what you look like. A movement saying you are different and that’s part of your beauty was kind of amazing and radical. But from the comments, it seems I’m in the minority on that. I would love for body neutrality to be the norm, but I think until most images we see of women and men’s body’s become more reflective of society, a movement that tries to counteract that message is needed.

    • April

      YES. This is my goal too. I’m not always successful but I don’t feel like it’s very important to love my body or think I’m pretty no matter what etc. I just don’t want to worry about it and to spend my time on things I enjoy. I want to be fit enough to do things I enjoy and …. that’s it really.

  • knolan12

    YES all of this! My crappy feelings about my body are exasperated by all the self-love I see. Is there something extra wrong with me because I don’t love the way my thighs jiggle or appreciate the polka dots of cellulite all over? I feel like you can’t win.

    #Bodymeh is going to be my new mantra. Maybe one day I will feel all that body love, but I know I’m a far way from that.

  • Eenie

    Accepting and loving the body you have is one thing. Trying to find clothing to fit your body is another thing entirely. It is so difficult and frustrating (for some people). There is something spectacular about tailored and custom fit clothing. I wish I could just hire a tailor to go shopping with me every single time. Tailor/style consultant. Is that a thing? If not, it should be.

    • Shannon

      Yes! The second I accept that I will always have huge boobs (32 F), summer rolls around and I have to figure out what kind of bathing suit to get. Flaunt my girls? I’d love to. On vacation with my boyfriend’s family? Meh….

      • Jessica

        I’m loving the swimsuits that have a higher neck, which seems to be a trend right now. Not loving that they all seem to be bikinis, though.

      • Rowany
        • Amy March

          I am abundantly naturally blessed of boob, and wore this swimsuit all last summer. It felt amazing and held up really well to swimming 4 or 5 times a week.

          • Rowany

            Thanks! And you didn’t feel like it was too revealing?

          • Amy March

            Hard to draw that line. It certainly was revealing, but I felt secure and not overly exposed. It is low cut though- if you are looking for something that will cover most of your boob try a different style.

      • anon

        Try Athleta for separates with bra sizing. They have some very vacation – with – boyfriend’s- family-friendly items.

        • Natalie

          Love Athlete swim suits. They’ve got really cute ones (not just sports bra style) that hold my large girls well, even when I run on the beach, play in the surf, etc. and the bra sizing makes shopping for the, so much easier.

      • april

        I’m a 32 E, so I feel your pain – the swimsuit struggle is real! I’m a huge fan of the Australian swimwear brand “Seafolly.” The suits aren’t cheap, but they’re supportive, cute, and they provided good coverage. They’re well made too — I just replaced my “boyleg maillot” after about 5 years of intensive use. This is essentially the one I have (but mine has a pineapple print!): http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/clothes-swimwear-onepiece/37349321.jsp#/ And I’m currently debating buying this bikini: http://www.seafolly.com/shop/swimwear/spring-garden-soft-cup-halter-bikini-top-hipster-bikini-pant.html

        • Aubry

          Can i get a hallelujah for being able to buy different sized bathing suit tops and bottoms nowadays. I’m quite busty enough at a 34E/F but that pales in comparison to my hips lol

      • knolan12

        Try Figleaves! I saw them on a list from Refinery29 last summer about good places to shop for women with big boobs. They’re a British lingerie store, but more classy than Vicky’s (and more flattering shapes for all bodies) and have really good sales. I think I got my top and bottom for $50ish and I’m still obsessed with it.

      • BD

        I just recently discovered Miss Mandalay – they make bras and bikinis in a nice range of sizes. I just purchased a bikini top from them and although it wasn’t cheap, it felt so amazing to wear a bikini top that actually fit, supported, and made my girls look awesome.

        (Unfortunately, MM is based in the UK, and I had to wait several weeks to get my package here in the US – darn customs.)

    • Lisa

      Even as someone who grew up with a seamstress/tailor (my mother), shopping can still suck! My height means I can rarely buy clothes off the rack, and it’s a special kind of difficult not being able to wear the clothes other kids are wearing as a child because tall sizes in children’s clothes just aren’t a thing. (I was stick straight until I was about 13, but by that point I was also 5’7″.)

      It is helpful knowing what basic alterations can be done to a garment so I know what to look for (seam allowances are a big one), but often only so much can be done to make an item work. There’s also the ratio of love for the item to how much time/money has to be invested in the garment to make it fit appropriately.

      There are definitely stylists out there though. I think they’re more common at big department stores, but even at nicer retailers (think J. Crew, Banana Republic, etc. level) the sales consultants are typically knowledgeable enough to recommend items and assist with questions about tailoring. I think you can also hire personal stylists and shoppers who present you with a ton of options, but I’ve not looked much into this. There are also services like Trunk Club that send clothing to your home.

      • Eenie

        Yes! Tall child here too :) The real struggle at the moment is with my husband’s pants. He has to buy two to three sizes up in waist to fit his thighs. But his work pants get destroyed so easily the tailoring/specially designed jeans isn’t worth it.

        • Lisa

          Would a different cut help with this? Maybe a looser or relaxed fit so that they’re not too tight? Adjusting a waist band on a pant correctly is a bigger alterations job, but you could also theoretically tack the pants yourself at home by creating two darts in the back. It’s not as elegant or pretty of a solution, but it’s functional if they’ll be destroyed quickly.

          • Eenie

            He’s found the most generous cut possible (wranglers!) And uses a belt. I guess I haven’t thought about putting darts in ourselves! It doesn’t need to be perfect.

          • Lisa

            My mom helped me do this when I lost weight a few years back and didn’t want to commit to buying a slew of new clothing yet. They weren’t exactly pretty, but it did reduce the waist a couple of inches so that they would stay up without a belt. Best of luck to you!

      • Aubry

        OMG yes! I’m 6’1″ and ladies just don’t come that tall very often. One amazing clothing store stocks for us (Long Tall Sally), but they are pricier than I can afford to shop all the time. Compound that with being incredibly curvy and also not carrying it like many women do (hello mostly flat stomach with gigantic hips) and the solution is lots of dresses and lycra. I hate shopping for clothes, cause it’s hard not to be down on your body when you’ve been trying on pants for 4 hours without any success.

        • Lisa

          This is so me. My measurements are something like 33-30-41 right now, which makes pants, button down shirts, a lot of dresses, and almost everything else difficult to fit if I was average height, but it’s compounded by the fact I need things with longer sleeves and legs. I’m also tall enough not to fit into regular clothes, but many “tall” clothes (LTS, especially) are TOO long for me so I have to take them up. It’s such a never ending battle that most of my wardrobe consists of A-line dresses and skirts. People comment that I’m always so dressed up and don’t believe me when I say that this is the easiest way I’ve found to dress my body.

          And, girl, I feel you so hard about the shopping. There’s nothing so disheartening as sitting on the floor of a fitting room surrounded by 20 garments that don’t fit. And my husband wonders why I dislike shopping so much.

          • Aubry

            I feel that too! Surprisingly some tall clothes are too long, but then the joints are in the right places. My measurments are about 42-32-50 on average. The struggle is real. I often get the dress comment too, and people rarely belive that it is just easier to wear dresses- (usually with an extra snap sewn somewhere so i don’t flash someone by accident ;)

        • Janelle Shepard

          ASOS (a British online fashion co.) has a tall line and their prices are reasonable on many things : )

          • Aubry

            I wish i was confident shopping online. I do rarely but with my sizing issues (compounded by the crappy canadian dollar at the moment) it’s too big of a risk for me most of the time! I will definitely check them out for stuff that generally fits better, like dresses!

        • Jeans and trousers are the worst for taller ladies! I get that it must be annoying/expensive for shorter women to have to hem things but you’re cutting out a pretty big chunk of the market by maxing out leg lengths at 32” – and it’s not like we can just add on a bit of extra denim at the end of our jeans…

          Asos do have a good line of ‘tall’ but their jeans are always (well, the four pairs I have tried and returned have been) that cheap stretchy fabric rather than normal denim. Bricks and mortar stores are generally a waste of time unless you can’t get into a weepie chick flick and really want a good cry.

      • clarkesara

        I do Stitch Fix (one of those “personal stylist” services), and my favorite thing about it is that I told them my sizes in everything when I first signed up, and every time I get a shipment everything just fits. There isn’t that annoying “carry a range from 6-12 into the dressing room and see what looks best” thing. The clothes come, they fit me, and I can spend my time thinking about whether I like this shade of pink or that shirt is too much like one I already have or whatever, rather than the constant mantra of I’M FAT I’M FAT I’M FAT. A lot of the clothes either don’t have sizes or, if they do, I barely look at the number.

        • brooksienne

          I just signed up for my first shipment. I HATE clothes shopping, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

    • Meg Keene

      Clothing sizes are the devil. That’s unrelated to our bodies. Clothing sizing was clearly made in hell.

      • Lisa

        I desperately wish that women’s sizes were done by inches like men’s are. WHY ISN’T THIS DONE?

        • Eenie

          Some places do (specifically for jeans I’ve seen). I forget where I read it, but men’s clothing is easier to do this with than women’s because they don’t have curves. An equivalent women’s sizing system would need more sizing measurements than men’s.

          • Lisa

            I’ve seen it in some jeans, too, and I get that it would be difficult to stock enough sizes to get all women exactly what they want. However, it feels like some on-line company should have grown up around this idea at this point.

          • Eenie

            I’m just hoping functional pockets become a trend. Look! You can actually fit your phone IN your pocket. I secretly believe it’s a conspiracy by purse companies.

          • the cupboard under the stairs

            This! The thing about women’s jeans that are based on waist measurement is…well, how many jeans do YOU own that actually begin at the natural waist? None!! Therefore, that sizing system doesn’t work. I routinely pick up two pairs of size 30 jeans and find myself drowning in one and unable zip up the other.

            In order to ensure that jeans fit us, we’d have to start a sizing system that took into account waist circumference, full hip circumference, thigh measurement AND inseam.

        • Meg Keene

          I don’t know. I mean, jeans are. Just from a capitalist perspective, I don’t understand a system that makes your customers feel shitty about themselves and not want to buy your product. And the sizing is CRAZY. I’ve been whirling through sizes post partum, and I swear that there is maybe a 5 pound difference between a small and a medium, and a medium and large. Maybe?? I mean, it makes ZERO sense to me. When I’m smaller than the average (even discounting for obesity), and sending back large’s because they’re too small, you have a seriously out of whack sizing system.

        • Katherine

          Even though the men’s jeans are done in inches too, the measurements still aren’t uniform. They’re closer, but definitely not there. Thanks, fashion industry.

    • Rowany

      Nordstrom’s has free style consultations, and tailoring is free if you buy a full-priced item/have their credit card! I’m thinking about only shopping with them, since their uber-generous return policy and higher quality stuff balances out their higher prices.

    • April

      Ugh, agreed. I would pay someone real money to never have to shop again.

    • brooksienne

      I was thinking today that back when women made their own clothes or could afford to hire seamstresses they didn’t have this problem. Up until this year my body was a nearly perfectly proportioned size 6 or 8, and I STILL had to take 2-3 sizes of each item into the dressing room and I could STILL end up with NOTHING because stuff wouldn’t fit right. Clothing companies seem to think we’re a bunch of Pringles potato chips – identically shaped.

  • k

    OMG Ski Pants! I TOTALLY FEEL YOU! If you’re 5’4″ and a little curvy (generally around sz 12)… go luck EVER finding ski pants. And yet, at that size, you are no where near being “too fat to ski” so where exactly is everyone else getting their pants?! We tried 6 different shops, and finally ended up in SUPER LONG men’s boarding pants, which are WAY to big in the waist but the only thing we could find that fit in the hips. Ski companies apparently hate curves. “Dear ski companies, it’s not me it’s you. k thanks.”

    • Megera

      I have this with cycling pants. I am NOT too fat to cycle… but why can’t I find anything that covers my ass but stays on at the waist? GRRR.

      • Lisa

        I’ve rejected a lot of cycling pants in my search for ones that will accommodate my butt/hips and don’t ride up/show off my larger thighs. They’re out there! (I’m pretty sure these are the ones I finally got with a 50% off sale at STP.)

        • Megera

          That illustrates the other problem: there’s so little chance that pants will fit me that I can’t bring myself to buy them online: why bother when I’m 90% sure they’ll be going back because they don’t fit ?!

          • Lisa

            I totally feel you here. I’ve started looking at places with good return policies or where I can get free shipping because I have to try on a lot of clothes to find one or two things that fit. I remember buying something like $1500 worth of merchandise from a store’s on-line site just so I could try multiple items on in different sizes and ending up retaining about $300 worth of new work clothing. I’m trying to get over the pain of purchasing things on-line because it means that, though I have to deal with the upfront payment more, I end up with items that fit me better and are good investments in building my long-term wardrobe.

          • Jessica

            I tried to explain to a friend who was looking for a bra for the wedding that the best way was to 1. get a credit card, 2. look for a great returns policy and free shipping, 3. Go crazy, 4. try it all on, 5. be a responsible person and return what doesn’t work.

            She (understandably) couldn’t get over the barrier that a $700 shopping cart brings to the budget conscious.

          • Lisa

            Yep. That is such a hard but necessary pill for me to swallow. If you live in an area where specialty stores aren’t available to you, then you really have to be willing to get creative if you want something that works well and not just good enough.

          • Greta

            yup yup, this is how I do a lot of my shopping now. If I’m not sure what size I am, I get one of each. I also do this for shoes with Zappos (free 2-day shipping both ways! what?!?!)

        • Biker

          This linked to a page of shorts, not just one pair. What are yours called? I have the exact same need, and I’m hoping you’ll save me a $700 shopping cart! :)

          • Lisa

            How odd! Sorry about that. I got the Pearl Izumi shorts. I think they’re the first ones on the page. I usually end up between a medium and a large, and the medium was too small. I hope they work for you, too!

          • Biker

            Thanks!

    • Lawyerette510

      I’m around a size 14 and definitely have hips, and I’ve had success in embracing the bib instead of pants when it comes to my ski wear. They kind of make me feel like a kid, but I rarely get snow down my back and they fit better.

    • Emily

      OMG not just ski pants but general outdoor wear is usually terrible to find if you wear anything bigger than a medium in the cute ski shops at the mountain (and also in Ann Arbor MI apparently…). Iwear an XL or 14 usually and have had luck at REI.Com or backcountryoutfitter.com.

      • Kara

        Oh oh! Don’t forget Steep and Cheap. They run great deals (especially in the offseason).

        • Emily

          Dude, Steep and Cheap is excellent, I had never looked there before

          • Kara

            I’ve had great luck with clothes and gear, and returns are easy!

      • Greta

        backcountry.com and steepandcheap.com FTW! Plus GREAT DEALS. Love them.

    • EF

      LL Bean. They’ve got your (our) back.

      • eating words

        I wish. Not if you’re tall and long-armed.

        • Lisa

          We’re getting into backpacking, and finding tall hiking clothing has become my new shopping hell. It’s very disheartening to limit by size or inseam and have literally one pair of pants show up in the search.

          • eating words

            Yup. And trying to find sleeves that are long enough? I’ve practically given up.

    • april

      A plug here for Title Nine – they have a wide range of styles and sizes for everything from sports bras to cycling shorts. I spent months trying to find running shorts that weren’t super short before finding Title Nine’s “Anti Run Short” (they’re longish, loose, and they have pockets!) http://www.titlenine.com/home.do

  • Bsquillo

    ALL THE CLAPS for #bodymeh, or body neutrality as Rachel mentioned downthread. I kind of feel like the body positivity movement is just another way to sell women stuff, just put in a different light. So instead of “hide your trouble spots with this clothing item you can buy” it’s now “show off your curves with this clothing item you can buy!” Both scenarios involve spending money to feel good about yourself, and I just don’t think that’s always necessary.

    I’d just love to exist in a world where I pay as little attention to my body as most men do to theirs. I’m pretty sure my husband has pondered his thighs exactly zero times.

  • jb123

    I was somewhere between body neutral and body positive until I had thyroid cancer a few years ago. It was caught early and treated quickly, but was also followed by many months of finding the right medications to compensate for not having that particular organ anymore that triggered depression, rapid weight gain and loss because of metabolic shifts and because of stress eating, weakness, tiredness, you name it. And for months, maybe even years, I was pretty pissed at my body because it felt like my body had tried to kill me. And a while after, when I conquered a hike that was hard on me both mentally and physically, it felt pretty good to acknowledge that my body was a BAMF. My SO-now-FH and I celebrated my body on top of that mountain because WE COULD.

    Similarly, it took me a long time to move to a place where I can feel that my scar (which apparently nobody but me can see even though it seems so prominent to me) is beautiful, and to want to honor it instead of feeling like I needed to cover it. There are still days when I see my scar and think it’s ugly and think about trying different things to make it go away, but there are even more times that I look at it and think about how proud it makes me of the body I have and it’s ability to conquer, and live, and heal.

    I for sure don’t mean this to be a cancer-trump-card reply. You should totally feel about your body however you do even if some days that’s un-great. But on days when you can, also give your body some credit for accomplishing things you never knew it could (or that you never thought you’d need to ask it to). There is so much more to your body than how it looks.

    • MC

      YES. The moments I feel the most awesome about my body are not because I look/feel “beautiful,” but because I accomplish awesome things with my body. Climbing to the tops of mountains, crossing the finish line at a half-marathon, dancing all night at weddings… those are my moments of body love.

    • Chris

      yup. Not cancer, but I acquired a life long physical disability six years ago that significantly impacts my ability to participate in a lot of the sports i had played my entire life. Not surprisingly, I’ve gained some weight, and it’s hard to accept and live with the body i’ve got. I also do best when it’s not about whether I’m beautiful or not, but about how f’ing badass I am to still be running and rock climbing at all, even if the pace and difficulty isn’t the same as it was before.

    • Lawyerette510

      “But on days when you can, also give your body some credit for accomplishing things you never knew it could (or that you never thought you’d need to ask it to). There is so much more to your body than how it looks.” x100

    • Meg Keene

      I feel that. I had various chronic health problems in my 20s, and have family with huge chronic health issues. So I mostly feel like every day I wake up, and don’t hurt and can do things is a great day for me and my body. Plus: childbirth. MY BODY GREW HUMAN BEINGS WHAT? Clearly I’m made of magic!

      I’m totally struggling with sizing and wanting to drop baby weight and feeling dumb for caring and alllll of that shit. But fundamentally, I try not to think of my body as a size, but just as… ME. It’s interesting how some people clearly make it work by thinking of their body as this other thing, but for me making it work means feeling fully integrated with my body as myself.

    • LP

      “Similarly, it took me a long time to move to a place where I can feel that my scar (which apparently nobody but me can see even though it seems so prominent to me) is beautiful…”

      This. I had a small stage 0 tumor removed after I bought my wedding dress. It’s in a pretty inconspicuous spot, in the awkward not really armpit but not yet boob space, and was panicking during the 3 months between the surgery and trying my dress on again. My mom is a total badass cancer survivor, who had a mastectomy and a very scarred breast. Her absolute worst fear is one of us getting cancer, so naturally I tried to shield any of my worry/anxiety/body displeasure from her. She is the only one who came with me to try my wedding dress on, and when it was first put on, you could totally see the scar when I raised my arms. And I panicked. I just remember sitting there thinking as the pulled and clipped “this scar is so ugly. It will remind my mom of my close call. Please please please don’t show when they’re done.” But you know what? That scar is not an ugly thing. It shows that something was wrong with me and I came back even stronger. If you think about the human body and the way scars are formed, it’s really pretty beautiful. Your skin is damaged, and it comes back twice as strong. It might not be as smooth or what the media tells us is pretty, but damn it, it survived.

      My wedding dress ended up covering the scar, by the way. Which I’m good with because I’d really prefer not to have a lot of side boob. But still, some days I see my scar and think “you go, you’re stronger and healthier now,” and other times I think “I just want my boob back.” And that is okay.

    • JC

      Yes! It used to be that when I asked the question, “How do I feel about my body today?” I was actually asking, “How fat do I feel today?” Now, after a year of battling what I now know is arthritis, and knowing that it will be with me forever, when I ask, “How do I feel about my body today?” I am actually asking “How do my knees feel? Are my muscles sore? Am I getting enough protein? Do I feel more or less flexible than yesterday? Was it easy or hard to get out of bed this morning, and how does that make me feel?” Radically different questions!

    • Alison O

      Yeah, when I read this post I thought about this tactic for appreciating your body and what it can DO even if you don’t like how it looks. But, with my experience of some mysterious chronic illness (or is it?) over the last few years, I’m also not satisfied with what my body can DO. The fact is, it can’t do a lot of things, like feel rested, or exert a lot of energy, or breath without obstruction, or sleep on its back… Of course, its functioning could be even more impaired than it is now.

      • jb123

        Ugg I’m sorry you’re going through that right now! I’m not a fan of comparison appreciation; I think it’s ok to be mad/sad/angry/upset about something even if it could be worse or someone else has it worse. Like I said, I went through a long time of just being angry at my body for doing this; living those feelings as they happen is important too. I hope that you heal soon and that the things that are challenging now become easier for you quickly! Internet hugs!

    • Morgan D

      Thank you so much for your post. I was trying to figure where (and whether) I fit into this conversation. I’ve always had a very body-centric view of my self: I was a pre-professional dancer for 7 years, and up until recently was an avid hiker, rock climber, etc. I’m 5’2 and a true hourglass, which I know is priviledged since it mostly fits my identity and is generally rewarded by society (at least in print; in reality, it seems like only a few brands’ clothes suggest it’s possible to be both small and curvy; usually if something fits at the waist, it doesn’t fit my chest/hips, or vice versa). Anyways, there were pressures because I was always a little too “Misty Copeland” before Misty Copeland got famous for the dance world, and always a little too short and delicate for the climbing world, but I loved doing these activities and I loved my body for doing them. Which has made being on disability for the last few months a real crash course in body acceptance. I’ve definitely struggled with depression as I’ve gotten more sedentary and gained weight and lost tone. At times I feel disconnected from and alienated by my body, which once could do so much once, but is now incapable of reliably opening jars or reading or looking at a computer for long. At the same time… I also get the feeling of being a goddamn champion when I make it up a flight of stairs, or when I’m actively interested in sex for the first time in months, or when I don’t need a nap or am mostly pain free for a day. Anyways, I guess what I’m saying is – body acceptance is complex. It’s not always positive or neutral or negative in general, or even in the context of a single month or day. I can fight that, and part of body acceptance is fighting (or killing with kindness) the internal voices/habits of mind that bring us down. But maybe part of body acceptance practice is also accepting the very variations in our degrees of acceptance? Maybe if we decide that it’s okay to be body positive, negative, or neutral at any given moment – as long as we don’t stay there beyond reason – it’s one less battle to fight or shame ourselves over?

  • Erica G

    I am so behind #bodymeh and really need to learn how to live it. I let my weight and appearance get me down far too often.

  • Alexa

    Most of the time I’d describe myself as satisfied with how my body looks but mostly excited/empowered by what my body can do (in the past dance or aerial arts, more recently boxing). Right now, though, I’m pregnant and just coming out of a pretty awful first trimester (fingers crossed). I haven’t been able to exercise much, my body proportions are noticeably off from normal but not yet obviously pregnant, and my stomach feels much more like a finicky alien force that I’m trying to appease than like a part of me. I guess my point is mostly just that even if/when someone does reach a stage of peace/mostly contentment with their body there are so many things that can easily throw everything out of wack again, whether pregnancy, life-style change, illness, or whatever. So maybe I’m shooting to be #bodytolerant or #bodyflexible?

  • Ashley

    Maybe it’s not exactly the body positive movement, but I feel like a lot of the new attitudes towards women’s bodies give really conflicting messages. Some flaws are beautiful, while others are not shown or talked about. We are told strong is the new skinny while looking at a strong, but still skinny woman, and any “fitspo” propaganda looks a lot like “proana” to me, even if the body shapes are different. Yeah it would just be nice if we could stop posting endless pictures of women’s bodies and talking about it so much. I know it would help clear my head a little!

    • Mary Jo TC

      I hear this. One example: we’re supposed to celebrate our stretch marks from pregnancy, but no one ever talks about acne. Acne is definitely one of the ‘invisible’ kinds of flaws that supposedly doesn’t exist, except it totally does. I find it really hard to ‘celebrate’ stretch marks or curves left over from pregnancy when, for example, you don’t see lingerie ads with women with stretch marks, presented as normal and beautiful and as the best way to sell the lingerie. Maybe that’s where the marketers will go next.

      I find ‘fitspo” disturbing and annoying too. I don’t see much difference between it and pro-ana. I also don’t find pictures of super thin women as ‘inspiring’ in any way, unless that woman is inspiring for another reason, like something she accomplished. Looking at pictures of thin women is more likely to depress me than to make me want to work out.

      • Ant

        Not to forget that some people get stretch marks without ever having been pregnant.

        • Right. Like I have stretch marks and no baby…

      • Meg Keene

        ALSO: do I have to celebrate my stretch marks from pregnancy? I mean, whatever. I have them, I made a human. I don’t really feel like celebrating them so can we move on?

        (I also have non pregnancy stretch marks, about which I feel exactly the same way.)

        • Aubry

          Totally. I don’t have a baby but have lots of puberty stretch marks (I gained about 100 lbs of hips and boobs in 4 years) and I am mostly just fine with them. Not a lot of love or hate, except my inner thigh ones turn regular chub rub into a horrifically painful and occasionally bloody situation so I can’t wear dresses without little tights or something under – total drag cause I love dresses. But other than that they are just a fact of my body that I rarely notice nowadays. I’m sure I will get lots more from pregnancy, and that they won’t look like those tiger stripe pictured on six packs we see floating around facebook.

          • raccooncity

            Shoutout to the puberty stretchmarks from your body deciding to grow a foot in a year and 2 cup sizes in one month.

            Mr. RC saw them the other day and was like “you have pregnancy stretch marks already!” and I was like “first of all, that’s literally impossible. secondly: dude, where have you been the past 7 years?” But it goes to show that I’m the only person who was noticing them.

          • Aubry

            Silly puberty! And I asked C one time if he minded them and he replied that he likes them “because they look like fire!” – said with boyish glee. So it seems he doesn’t mind!

    • Rowany

      I agree, although the one thing about ‘strong woman’ is I’m glad there are more “strong” women in movies in TV that actually have like, muscles. I’m tired of waif women warriors. Waif whatever else kind of women, fine.

  • Victwa

    #Bodymeh. I love this so much. I also love Rachel’s comment– can’t we aim for bodies just being these things? I mean, yeah, clearly there’s all this social stuff telling us THINK ABOUT YOUR BODY all the time, but really? So much space thinking about bodies. So much space. #Bodymeh. Whether it becomes a viral hashtag or not, it’s definitely becoming my new body mantra.

  • Mary Jo TC

    I related so much to this: “The fatphobic programming didn’t just disappear because it’s no longer trendy to have body dysmorphia.” I really appreciate the message of body positivity, but I have a hard time believing in it for myself, because it just seems so unrealistic and disconnected from the vast majority of the messages we get about what kind of body is acceptable. Sure, it’s great if you can feel good about yourself regardless of your size, but the reality is that people are still going to judge you based on that size, and you may lose opportunities of all kinds because of it. That’s shitty and unfair, but it’s reality. And as long as that’s true, it feels to me like body positivity is kind of like ‘sticking your head in the sand’–ignoring reality. Also, I just feel like I’ve been programmed so well to perceive beauty as thinness, and that programming is really hard to undo. So as much as I like the concept of body positivity and would encourage it in younger girls, I just can’t buy into it for myself. Not yet anyway. Of course, maybe body positivity is one of many ways to change that reality little bit by little bit. Thanks for grappling with this for us, Najva.

  • clarkesara

    Yes yes yes to all of this!

    I was a skinny child. And, thus, I was praised for my thinness as a child. As a teenager, I became attracted to androgyny as a style aesthetic, which suited my scrawny and often mis-gendered frame. I went to an urban college where there was no cafeteria meal plan, no trundling from dorm to class to cafeteria on a closed campus, no tailgating, no car culture, and thus no “Freshman Fifteen”.

    And after college came the office jobs. I started putting on a few pounds here and there through my 20s. At first it wasn’t noticeable. Then it looked good on me. Headed into my 30s, I knew I had put on weight since high school, but I also knew that a 30 year old woman probably shouldn’t weigh 90 pounds.

    There’s one problem, though. After ~25 years being the scrawny androgynous girl, that’s my mental image. Which means that when I see pictures of the curvy new me, despite the fact that I intellectually know that my weight is fine, I am healthy, my fiance is attracted to me, and other people probably think I look great, the pictures look wrong. At this point I’m a little afraid of the whole concept of wedding photography, since I’m pretty sure I’m going to think I look fat in all the pictures. In a few weeks, I’m going wedding dress shopping, and despite the fact that I’m well within the range of bridal sizes, I can already feel the body dysmorphia at work. What’s worst is that, after a life of choosing clothes as a petite woman, I have no idea what’s even going to look good on me. I’ve pinned all these photos of willowy models in simple bohemian dresses, but am I going to look like a hobbit in them? One thing I love about the APW wedding features is that the brides come in all sizes. But, man, the whole wedding dress thing is TOUGH when you’re not comfortable in your skin.

  • Kara

    (I’m going to preface this comment with the fact that I’m 5’2″ and there’s just not much room on my frame for any extra weight to go).

    I have a difficult history with eating, appearances, and how I feel. In high school, I used food or a lack there of to have control. I was never diagnosed with anything, but when I wasn’t able to donate blood due to my low weight, I knew I had to change. Fast forward to university, I walked everywhere, but I ate what I wanted and was always in a healthy range. After staring my job, I found out about all the joys of eating amazing food from all over the world. I started gaining, but then, I had buddies that I would work out with, so everything was in check.

    About 6 years ago (after getting married), I had a major shake up at work, and was constantly stressed for years. The stress started lessening about 2 years ago, but the damage was done. I had gained 30 lbs (more than 20% heavier than when I started). I was in denial, my doctor kept telling me that I should focus on my health–decrease my stress, change my eating habits, get daily physical activity, etc, but I didn’t want to change.

    Then last July, I saw myself in a picture. I truly saw myself. I looked pregnant, and other people asked if I was expecting (never been pregnant and never tried to become pregnant). I was tired constantly, my face was puffy, clothes never fit, and I never felt like myself. So I vowed to make a change.

    Today, I’ve lost almost 20 lbs, and I feel so much better. I just feel more like me. It’s been a slow and gradual process (which is good!), and all I did was change my eating habits. No sugary drinks, no diet drinks, lean meats, lots of veggies, very little processed food (like crackers, cookies, chips, etc.), and above all else, the right portions. I told my doctor that I eat as if I were diabetic, but thankfully, I’m not (diabetes runs in my family and I had an episode where I started convulsing after having too much sugar a few years ago).

    • Kara

      This isn’t to get compliments or any real purpose. I wanted to share my story. I’ve hated my body for such a long portion of my life, that getting to be comfortable in my skin again has been enlightening.

      I love the idea of body neutrality!

      • Jessica

        Congratulations! I also recently lost quite a bit of weight, and it is a lot of hard work and dedication. Most importantly, I’m glad you feel better!

        • Kara

          Thanks, Jessica! And Congratulations to you too!

  • Jenna

    I have been struggeling with the whole Body Positive concept when it comes to myself a lot recently as well. Two years ago i started taking Zoloft for anxiety and depression and it is a complete life savor. At the time i started taking it i was at my thinnest but almost mentally i was rock bottom. 2 years later my anxiety and depression are totally in check however i gained 40 pounds and its proven almost impossible to lose any weight. I work out 4 times a week.. i watch what I ea,t and yet everyone just assumes i MUST be doing something wrong if I am not loosing weight. (I swear i am not eating chocolate cake in the middle of the night in secret) So Now here i am working my butt off at the gym and 190 pounds. What if this is just what i look like now? Do i love myself the way i am? I want to say yes. But if i do that, and accept this is how i look will i just never be skinny again? Will i do myself more harm then good by not pushing myself to find the right solution? Im so torn as to how i should approach this all.

    • While not 100% relevant to your situation, I found this article about how people resting metabolic weight after losing weight is significantly lower than for non-weight-lossers of the same weight fascinating…and a hopeful direction for understanding why maintaining weight loss is so difficult: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html

      • Lisa

        I was looking for somewhere appropriate to incorporate that article. It was absolutely fascinating!

    • Lawyerette510

      One thing to think about is if you are doing harm to yourself as you are now. The idea that weighing more is indicative of health (for example BMI and most societal messaging around health) doesn’t actually assess individual health. If you’re working out 4x a week and eating in a nutritionally sound way, and you are emotionally healthy, it sounds like you are doing good for yourself.

    • BDubs

      Depression undiagnosed until I was 21 kept me skinny but very mentally unhealthy. Adding the appropriate meds either made me gain weight or I finally was mentally healthy enough that I was eating sufficient food for the first time and gained about 40 lbs. I really, REALLY struggle with accepting this. You aren’t alone. But better mental health is worth it, really and truly. I wish you peace in this struggle. xo

  • Rowany

    I am both #bodymeh and body positive. I like my body, which is average/medium for Americans in almost all measurements except with larger than average boobs. Except as an Asian, I sometimes feel gigantic among other Asian friends with their stick torsos. It doesn’t help that my mother called me fat growing up, when again, I was solidly average. I remind my husband who sometimes worries about my self-image that it’s amazing that I’m as body positive as I am. Yet I am also confused when other people call me really skinny. Just don’t comment about my size people!

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    I find that it’s really easy to feel either body positive or #bodymeh most of the time until outside forces intervene. Sometimes I’ll feel great about my body until I visit my family and my aunt regales me with stories about how skinny and fit I was at 13 and “wasn’t that great?” Other times I’ll feel all gung-ho about my appearance until I go to a store and can’t find anything that fits. On my best days I can brush it off as a problem with factory-made clothing or with trends that don’t work for my unique, gorgeous shape or with society at large. On my worst days…it really drags me down.

    Related to the above: does anyone have any ideas for how to combat subtle body-shaming comments from relatives?

    • BDubs

      Oh man, this.
      I feel like basically you can confront at the moment of insult, or just gotta let it go. No passive way to do this.

  • Katherine

    Just wanted to say that I’m super glad to see this piece up and that it recognizes the struggles genderqueer persons feel with the body positivity movement. As a genderqueer person myself, I’ve definitely encountered this in my own headspace and I’m glad to see it brought to light.

  • gonzalesbeach

    apw, you know me too well. as someone who has been all manner of weights and struggled with various eating disorders, I’ve not identified with the body positive movement. I’ve lost weight/ gained weight for good reasons /for bad reasons, in good ways/in bad or sad ways. often I’ve hated my body. I’ve also loved (liked?) myself in my body when I/it does kick ass stuff. but mostly, it’s in the zone of ‘today my boobs look good but I also feel too chubby to wear a onesie’… the only plus I see is that as I get older and perhaps a teeny bit wiser, I give less f*cks in general about a lot of things, including what I ‘should’ look like and more about what I feel like and am like (ie healthy, active, and happy). which is great, but I also would really would like my pants to fit better, because I have muffin top this week and it’s digging in uncomfortably and ugh jean shopping. solidarity with the #bodymeh movement.

  • Emma Klues

    This is such a good articulation of something I have thought abstractly about for years but never put into words. Stopping shame and self-hatred doesn’t always have to go a full 180 into constant celebration. Well said!

  • H.A Snyyder

    Fellow curvy AFAB genderqueer here. I hear you, and I feel this SO hard.

  • Shelby

    This is bringing up weird stuff bc we were in TKD together, and I can still remember how your mom speaks. To learn what was going on at home saddens and enrages me.
    I had an ED for a few years after TKD. I remember you told me about pro Ana sites and I thought they were gross, but a few months later I checked them out and started off on my own eating disorder and self hate adventure. What began as a decision to improve myself and become “perfect” led to the wholehearted belief that I was a monster who had systematically eliminated my ability to feel feelings.
    I don’t have body issues anymore. If some clothes don’t fit I say “this doesn’t fit ME”. It’s the garment”s fault, not mine.
    I don’t have full length mirrors in my house. I dont examine my thighs bc I dont want to feel shitty. I don’t try to control my weight, as I’ve found that my body does whatever the fuck it wants and I respect that now. I’m thankful I don’t have a chronic debilitating illness from my body abuse.
    I’m not sure what the point of this Everyone is Beautiful campaign is. Why is it important for every woman to be beautiful? That ignores every single part of your personality. Being beautiful doesn’t make you interesting or fun to be around. It won’t make you successful if you lack the ambition and drive to push yourself to greatness. It’s the least important thing about us, yet we endlessly talk about it.

  • Michela

    The best thing I did to get out of a body shaming habit and into a body positive headspace was to buy clothes that fit. It’s masochistic to squeeze into clothes you no longer fit into or to stare at 90% of your wardrobe, unable to wear anything. You know how you’ll feel at work all day in ill-fitting pants and tops that squeeze your arms? Shitty. I finally got sick of feeling shitty and dropped a big chunk of change on clothes that fit and flattered my curvy Italian frame and you know what the result was? I feel pretty #bodymeh most of the time, which was my goal! Now that I have clothes that fit, I barely think about my appearance, I feel confident, and I keep the body shaming at bay. And guess what? No one knows if the tags on my expertly tailored trousers reads “12” or “6”. And no one really cares, either. Thank goodness for #bodymeh.

    • Danielle

      Oh god yes. I recently bought some new pants because the old ones were too tight. Then I cried at my current size. But I sure feel better everyday, now that my waist band isn’t cutting into my stomach all day!

      Also, I have found thrift stores good for these sort of initial shopping sprees, after body changes. Helps me figure out what sizes I might be in different brands, without spending too much $$.

    • BDubs

      Thank you for this. Broke me out of my shame-spiral. xo

  • raccooncity

    Not sure if this got mentioned down in the comments already, but the attitude of “just love your bodyalready!” is very dismissive of the reality that society isn’t there yet. As evidenced by Najva’s inability to find snowpants that fit. Everything’s still oriented to thin people (full disclosure: I’m one of those people thanks mostly to IBS). People who love their bodies at all sizes are amazing, and I love their bodies too. However, I also realize that it’s a heck of a lot easier to love yourself when you have ALL the clothes options available to you and your fat-phobic parents and in-laws think you’re lovely when you don’t exercise at all but side-eye your siblings for not exercising enough.

    The world is still largely set up to make us hate non-thin bodies so if someone finds themselves taking up that mindset for a while, it’s not for me to judge. But I will tell you that in MY OPINION, you look great.

  • Sarah E

    My concern with some body positivity messaging and reactions is when the rejection of size as a defining characteristic trends into rejection of the body as self. Granted, I’ve never had major body issues, thanks in part to a good mom and in part to genetics that fit the arbitrary societal standard. But I’m always concerned when the body is relegated to a thing one wears. In my understanding, the body is part of my self, just like my mind and my spirit. All three work together. How my body looks shouldn’t confer more or less value on me as a person, but it does shape how I move about the world, and therefore my worldview.

  • Elizabeth

    As always, great one Najva! Reminded me of the article below
    “You can feel any damn way about your body…” and
    “don’t put off taking care of it until some magical day where you look over at your body and suddenly realize, Oh my god, I LOVE you, ”

    http://www.rookiemag.com/2015/09/body-talk-hello-every-body/

  • Regretful but Happy Bride

    Wow, this article is so well timed. I just got married this weekend. Put on 10 pounds between when I bought the dress and the wedding day and boy does it hurt the soul to objectively compare pictures and know i looked better the day I bought it versus the wedding day. You can love your body, love your dress, love your day, and still no amount of positive thinking is gonna change the fact that muffin top exists, I’d rather it didn’t and this is life. sometimes you don’t get the body where you’d like it to be. so yep Bodymeh is just the way life is sometimes. Got married anyway, still got my man and good memories, even if there’s that pang of regret.

  • Kayjayoh

    I wish I had joined the conservation yesterday. I’m in an interesting position, in terms of my relationship with my body. On the one hand, I am about 30 pounds heavier than I was in my late 20s and even 10-15 pounds heavier than I was in my 30s. I’m struggling with the fact the clothes that I loved no longer fit and probably never will. (I’d be more okay with my current weight, I think, if it didn’t mean letting go of some dearly loved vintage items.)

    On the other hand, I have started doing things like rock climbing, weigh lifting, and aerial dance. My upper body strength is growing, and I can do things that I hadn’t even dreamed possible even a decade or so ago. (Literally. I was introduced to aerial dance in about 2001 and thought, “That is amazing and beautiful and I could never do that.”) I’m doing amazing things with my body, and my only regret is that I didn’t start doing this earlier because I’d be so much better now.

    So I’m in transition. Getting to love the 40 year old me. I like how I look naked, which is good. I’m just very frustrated with clothes. Especially since dance clothes are built, mostly, for wee things with no bust. Or at least it seems that way.

    • Danielle

      Aerial dancing sounds wonderful. I hope you can find some new/vintage clothes that fit and feel good for your 40 year old self.

  • ItsyBit

    I am 110% behind the #BodyMeh movement. Just sayin’.

  • Steph S.

    The thing that bothers me about the body positivity/radical self-love movements is that they’re yet another thing to aspire to. It’s a whole other thing to do and accomplish. It’s symptomatic of that way girls are trained to be perfectionists, with that feeling of, gotta do it all!!! Great, I can’t just be, yet again. Now there’s a new thing. Now I have to take on this whole other effort to try and level up again and figure out how to absolutely love everything and be so gracious and pleased. Uggggh. People need to stop with all these new ideals to aspire to. I love this article and the bodymeh idea.

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  • I love that you describe yourself as an “ex-poet.” I don’t know why, but it makes my heart sing!

    #bodymeh will do for me. I generally feel like my body is something to be tolerated for its utility, but celebrated? Get a grip. Oy.

  • LadyBlah

    GREAT article. I identified strongly with your gender expression and this – “It’s dangerous to feel like a bad feminist just because I haven’t undone years of insecurity about how thick my thighs are. There shouldn’t be guilt in feeling the shame you were taught—by the majority of society—to feel.” – what a lightbulb moment! Another aspect of the body positivity movement I reckon is that naturally thin women are almost left behind, shamed and made to feel like ‘bad feminists’ because ‘real women have curves.’ This isn’t my experience but it’s one I hear a lot. Neutrality is the way to go, totally agree.

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