Fitspo. Thinspo. Fat shaming. Thin shaming.
There are so many ways in which others attempt to impose their beauty ideals on others. We are told how we should look, wear our makeup, dress our body, how we should eat, the best ways to exercise. Someone else is trying to tell us what is deemed “healthy” and what constitutes being “fit.”
We are told not to make excuses, to get bikini ready, to look like the cover of the magazines, all with false promises of being happy. It’s no wonder it is reported that 91% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies, according to dosomething.org.
When and why did we decide to put the acceptance of our bodies into the hands of another?
When did someone else’s eyes become a better judge of our bodies and what is acceptable than our own?
Recovery, for me, has been a bumpy road. The more my body expanded, the more I had to eat, the better I needed to learn to take care of my body, the more judgmental I became toward myself.
I couldn’t possibly see loving my body as it was in the present, growing and gaining weight and taking on a new shape.
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I struggled to start with the simple act of acceptance.
Being bombarded with images of super thin, fit women with perfect hair and makeup, with words meant to motivate and inspire scrolled on top served to reinforce my growing dissatisfaction with my body. Everywhere I turned there were pictures of women who were a lot smaller than myself, I couldn’t escape feeling inadequate as though my body was all wrong.
Going through school to become a health coach helped me tremendously when I felt I was at my breaking point. Once I started to learn about the proper way to nourish and care for myself — body, mind, and spirit, I was able to rally against society’s ideal of health and beauty. I was able to take back control of how I felt about myself.
No longer did I view food and exercise as the enemy. Instead, they became what they truly are, essentials for living.
Then I came across the organization Healthy at Every Size while studying to become a weight management specialist. I learned about non-diet ways to approach healthy living. I learned that every body has its own set point, its own ideal weight, and not everyone’s is set at a low weight with a tight body. I further understood the importance of nurturing one’s self from the inside out.
Learning to talk to myself more kindly, to make food and exercise decisions based on actual enjoyment and not what someone else deems acceptable, and to truly tap into my own intuition when it comes to taking care of my body, have helped me to disregard outside opinions.
I am able to ignore the media’s standard of what is beautiful and acceptable, as well as the thoughts and suggestions of well-intentioned friends and family.
Feeling my best, being able to move around freely, and not harbor negativity toward my body has pushed me over a huge hump in my recovery. I never imagined I could get to this place. I never imagined I could look at myself in the mirror and like the person staring back at me. Sure, I’m human and I have my moments, but I find I’m gentler with myself in those times. I’m able to chalk it up to a bad day and wake up the next day with a clean slate and a fresh sense of confidence.
I’ve removed a lot of negative outside influences from my life.
I’ve finally arrived at a place where I recognize there are more important matters to focus on than the size of my waist.
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