It’s 2021, and finally, people are loving their bodies, exploring being body positive, and sharing that self-love advice with other people. I have to admit, as a plus-sized woman, it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like it’s okay to be totally and authentically me, and I love seeing other people showering themselves in self-love.
But, is it okay not to feel positive about your body all of the time? Does that make me a fraud?
Sometimes, I ask myself this question. I lived with bulimia for years, and it completely took over my life, in ways that I can’t even explain. It is a torturous mental health condition to live with, and completely consumes you. Before I gained weight, my life was consumed by calories and eating under the recommended limit. But then I’d sit up in the kitchen while the whole house was asleep, bingeing on foods that I wasn’t even really hungry for, to the point I’m close to throwing up. And then I do. Over and over again.
This kind of illness affects you physically and mentally, and when you have grown up being obsessed with ‘fat’ being a dirty word, it can be hard to learn how to love yourself.
And I think that’s okay. I think that for everyone, including myself, things take time. You can’t suddenly rewire yourself after feeling a certain way for much of your life.
I’m always awed by people who share their gorgeous photos and their inspiring posts, telling the world that it’s okay to have confidence in yourself. And sometimes, I feel like that. Sometimes I wake up and I don’t hate my body. Some days I wake up and I’m so inspired by other people’s advocacy that I feel that confidence I have always chased.
But there are some days where I absolutely hate my body. The way it looks and how it feels. Days where I look in the mirror and want to cry.
And this makes me feel bad. It makes me wonder whether I am a fraud for experiencing both body positivity and self-hatred. Can you be both?
And I think my answer is yes. Not to the self-hatred, of course — but to not feeling totally body confident all of the time. Whether or not you have lived with an eating disorder, if you have ever struggled with image issues or body dysmorphia, or have just felt insecure, it’s okay to have bad days. When you are still living with a mindset of the past — even just a fraction of it — these challenges can be hard to overcome.
Don’t feel like not feeling confident all of the time means you can’t still be a part of the body confidence, self-love community. Don’t feel pressured to feel a certain way that you are not yet ready to feel.
Cherish the good days. The days where you look in the mirror and like what you see. The days where you look down at your body and notice its beauty. The moments where you aren’t constantly comparing yourself to other people. The, even short-lived, moments where you simply like your body, in its entirety, just as it is.
Even if you don’t have them every day, they are worth the memories. They are worth being your own inspiration for searching for self-love.
But accept the bad. Don’t overthink it, don’t pressure yourself with negative thoughts; just accept your feelings, and know that there will be better days ahead (even if they don’t all come at once).
Note from Editors:
Body shaming should never be confused with the possible health implications of weight changes. A weight within the medically recommended range for age, sex and height can help to decrease health risks as part of the general lifestyle, and always as personal empowering decisions, and never as a consequence of societal or cultural shaming. We want to emphasise that these two conversations are not mutually exclusive; discussion of the harmful impacts of body shaming can exist besides discussions about the health implications of weight. Critique of one doesn't invalidate critiques of the other.