Being body positive sometimes feels about as easy as climbing Mount Everest. I’ve never tried to climb Mount Everest, and I don’t plan to (because people DIE there — like there are literal actual dead bodies that are just shoved to the side so as not to obstruct the path for the rest of climbers who hope to reach the top without dying), but I think you get what I’m saying. It’s probably pretty hard, as evidenced by the aforementioned dying thing, so maybe being body positive isn’t literally that hard — but figuratively? Yes.
Because here’s the thing about bodies: sometimes we just don’t like them.
Sometimes it takes all the strength you can summon just to LIVE in your body. And loving it? That is another thing entirely. If you’re supposed to be “body positive,” but all you can think is, sonofabeeswax, I really wish my jeans would zip without causing me internal injury, then you’re not only feeling shitty about your jeans (which aren’t really comfortable, even when they do fit), you’re compounding that shitty feeling with feeling shitty about feeling shitty, and so on.
Sometimes I love my body and I’m like, “Wow body, thanks for being great!” And sometimes I’m more like, “Yeah, you look like a pile of stinky garbage.” Ideally, I wouldn’t ever feel like I looked like garbage, but I don’t live in Ideally; I live in Actuality. And in Actuality, sometimes my body is just a sack of skin I walk around in and not at all magnificent.
But I’m mostly really okay, even when my body feels like a sack of skin. If you’re wondering how you can live in your skin-sack peacefully, here are five ways:
1. Remind yourself that other people's opinions of you are not about you.
You may be fat, you may not like your not fat body, but your body is not public business. I spent years scanning the room to see if I was the fattest person in it. (Don’t pretend like you haven’t done it. And don’t try to tell me you weren’t relieved to find that there were at least two fatter fatties.)
Everyone is bringing their own experience to the table. Everyone has had virtually the same education around fat and bodies. Their feelings about you are their feelings about themselves, mostly.
You weren’t born thinking your body was ugly — the world taught you that. Learn something new.
2. Dress in clothes, not sizes.
I prefer nudity to clothes pretty much any day (unless it’s really cold), but since nudity isn’t widely accepted as a viable fashion choice, you’re going to need to put something on your skin sack.
Buy clothes you like, that fit. Even if you’re fat, shopping while fat is not what it used to be. Yes, we are still being shoved to the farthest back corner of the store, but we are IN the store — which is a start. And with women like Ashley Graham and Ashley Nell Tipton strutting their badassery all over the runway, there is no reason that the same badassery is not available to you. JCPenney is bringing the heat. And if you can’t find a JCPenney, ask your gramma.
Buy the clothes and tear out the label, or just cross out the number and write AWESOME in black Sharpie. The size is just a number some dude somewhere made up in his giant white middle-aged head. Old Navy size 16 is NOT Gap size 16, and they are owned by the same company, which is just further proof of the randomness of sizing.
Do you look like a human? Are you human shaped? You are size human. Buy clothes you like, put them on your human-sized body. The end.
3. Move your body.
Since the dawn of Jane Fonda, people have been trying to make us believe that exercise will make us feel better. Blah blah endorphins blah blah.
Ok as much as I LOATHE sweat, this is actually true. Muscles like to be moved, and as it turns out, moving them does make you feel good.
DAMN YOU, SCIENCE.
Move your body in a way that feels good. There are Jane Fonda videos all over YouTube. You're welcome.
And here is an awesome not fat leotard.
And here are some leotards in a variety of sizes.
(I spent an inordinate amount of time "researching" leotards. You're welcome.)
4. Curate your social media.
Stop following #fitfam #beforeandafter #weightloss #transformationtuesday #inspo. There is only a tiny fraction of a chance that any of this is actually inspiring you. Seeing other bodies that look “ideal” is mostly stressful all the time, and certainly VERY stressful when you’re already feeling like a hag.
Follow people who inspire you to love to live. Follow people who look like you. Follow people who don’t make you feel shitty by using seven filters and back-lighting to make it look like they have no cellulite. They have cellulite. Everyone has cellulite (especially cis women!). Follow cellulite. Follow fat rolls. Follow food and fun.
Your social media should not be torturing you. If your social media is making you feel more shitty, you’re doing it wrong.
So who to follow? Follow me! And BB&A. Follow Virgie Tovar for fashion and fun. Follow my platonic life-partner Jes Baker for real life and real cuteness. Follow my boo Isabel to talk about diets and why they are stupid.
5. Stop running from your body.
This is both the most difficult and the most important thing you can do for yourself. Stop hiding. Stop avoiding mirrors because you hate your reflection. Guess what? You still look the same, even when you can't see yourself. Stop ignoring your fat rolls. Your fat rolls are there and they aren't going to get up and walk away just because you’re shunning them.
Just look at yourself. Take your clothes off and get all the way naked and look at your body. If you don’t love it, THAT IS OK. You will very likely not always love your body, and expecting to always love your body is setting you up for some real hard failure.
You can still love your life on the days you can’t love your butt.
Treat yourself like you would treat your child, or like you would treat yourself if you were a child. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the grace to accept that your body may not be your favorite thing. Give yourself permission to find other things about you that you love.