I'm trying to become more Body Positive. I'm trying to believe it, and act upon it.
I'm sick of judging my self-worth based on how well my clothes fit or how much my muffin top hangs over my jeans. I've been letting this stuff lurk at the back of my mind for too long now and it needs to stop. Now.
Oh, I'm definitely better than I used to be. After all, you don't have five years of therapy without managing to question at least some of the critical thoughts. And yet... There are still times when this stuff creeps up on me. Normally, it's when there's a holiday or a wedding coming up, a time when I'll be aware that people might be looking at my body or comparing me to others (or at the very least, I know I'll be comparing myself to others).
Yes, I'm a size 12-14. I've never been shouted at by a stranger because of my weight, or humiliated in public due to my size. So I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I truly understand how harmful or hurtful body shaming bullshit is. But I do think that body shaming harms all of us. I remember being a teenager and obsessing over the size of my thighs, the redness of my stretchmarks and feeling completely and utterly worthless. Those 'ring of shame' magazine pages and overheard comments about bigger women, they harm everyone. They get to all of us. They reinforce the message, again and again, that fat women are worth less than thin women. That they're ok if they're funny or self-deprecating or really clever, but basically, that it's ok to humiliate people because of their size. But you know what, it's not fucking ok. This ends up getting to all of us. It makes us hate ourselves and monitor our bodies for any sign that we might be getting bigger. It makes us hurt ourselves and shame ourselves into obsessing over our bodies, because we've seen and heard so much of this fat-shaming that we've just started to believe it.
Well, there are two ways around this. Either we bully ourselves into achieving an arbitrary, unachievable and constantly-changing ideal, or we can just decide that we've had enough. We could refuse to take this bullshit. We could flaunt our fat and our imperfections and not be ashamed. We could realise that 'fat' shouldn't be an insult, that able bodies aren't superior to disabled ones, and that thin women are 'real women' too. We could stand up for each other and just accept that body fat percentage is not a measure of worth. We could all be really, truly confident and make the shamers lose their power over us. We could. We actually could.
In the words of one of my BoPo heroes, Megan, 'You'll never hate yourself into loving yourself' and I, for one, have wasted enough time and energy on self-hatred.
So, that's the why. Later this week: the how (and that bit might involve you, too).