I am in love with the “Body Love” Movement. As a full-figured woman I know first-hand how difficult it can be to grow up in a skinny-obsessed world. I’ve had the media, family members, and peers telling me everyday that I will never be good enough because of the size and shape of my body. It took me almost eighteen years (the great majority) of my life to realize that they are wrong.
I think what started my path to self-love was college. As soon as I left the judgmental halls of my high school I finally felt free to openly express the person I am. And along with that, I felt that I had my chance to accept, no love, the body I have. I knew that hating myself and what I see in the mirror would get me nowhere (actually it would get me into a place I’ve always feared). I already accepted how everyone else looks; it was time to show off and appreciate mine as well.
When I began college I was terrified to change in front of my roommates (the bathroom became my personal changing room). I quickly found out that this wasn’t necessary. My roommates weren’t going to judge me for my body. They would however misunderstand why I refused to eat with others at meals that I wasn’t comfortable around, or why I wore long-sleeved clothing in midst of the hottest months of summer. So, I decided to stop caring what others might think. I can’t change how they view me anyway, so I worked on it.
I will never forget when the way I acted around others almost ruined a budding friendship. Whenever my roommates and I would go to a meal together we would usually run into other friends we had made in the dorms. I always had issues eating around others because crazy thoughts would burst uncontrollably in my mind and prevent me from having a simple conversation. I could hear others thinking, “Oh my god! How much is she going to eat?” and “She should have gotten a salad; she needs to lose some of that fat.” I was so paranoid that my peers would watch everything I eat and be disgusted that I began to avoid my roommates. I would purposely wait until they sat down with the other friends and rush to the opposite side of the cafeteria to avoid the issue. But, this backfired. In a huge way. My one roommate thought I was avoiding her. She thought I felt I was too good to sit with them. I told her if I could explain it I would, but she wouldn’t understand. She wanted me to try anyway.
I told her, while holding in the tears, everything I had suffered. She looked at me, clearly trying to empathize. She admitted that she realized some people might think like this and judge me, but she was hurt that they do. It never occurred to her that I was avoiding them because of my hatred for my own flesh. I knew at that point that I needed to change; I was not going to lose friends over my fears.
Yes, I do have my days when the old hatred and disgust with my body boils up again. Just as addicts have their relapses, I have moments when I slip into that dark, self-loathing place. It happens less often than before. Progress is all i can ask for.
One bright side is that some people are coming to their senses. Stores are adding plus-sized clothing to their line-ups (that actually compare with the cute selections for thinner women). The media is slowly incorporating different bodies types into their marketing and advertising. Women of all shapes and sizes are starting to be represented. Inspirational women everywhere are blogging and sharing their videos, pictures, and stories of their path to body love. It truly is a beautiful thing. One day I found an article by blogger Jes of The Militant Baker called “Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…So I Will” (link below).
When I read the article I laughed, cried until it hurt, and finally found power through her words. I finally accepted that I am not alone. There are others out there that have felt the pain I have. These women and men have had the nastiest names, insults, and hatred thrown at them. They have experienced the fear of mirrors, clothes shopping, tight garments or revealing too much skin, food, swim suit season, doctor’s visits, and worst of all their own bodies. They have felt all of this and survived, no thrived, nonetheless. I will too.