The ability to love yourself at any size.
It’s a wild concept. One that even as little as 18 months ago I would have said pffft and carried on my merry way with scrolling through hours of ‘fitspo’ and washboard abs and bendy upside down yoga nymphs.
I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s. Through that era of the exercise videos with the body suits and leg warmers, the ‘Rachel’ hair, the Atkins diet.
I also grew up mostly in Asia – where size ‘petite to tiny’ is genetically the standard body shape you see every day. My teenaged size 14-16 self felt like I stuck out like that kid who forgot it was mufti day and wore school uniform by accident.
They say everything happens for a reason in this life. You GROW through what you GO through. I firmly believe that if I hadn’t found this online world of ‘health & fitness’ I may never have fallen like Alice down the rabbit hole and landed with a thud in the glorious world of Body Positivity (or #BOPO)
So here we stand, in this bright and colourful new world, where body diversity is celebrated. Where the goal is not to CHANGE yourself physically, but to embrace yourself as you are. Your weight, dimensions, cellulite, lumps, scars, teeth, nose … none of that defines you as a human being. We have been programmed over decades to believe the current mass media image of beauty and success. There are multi-billion dollar industries that RELY on the fact people (especially women) feel like they are not good enough as they are.
You are no less or more successful if you weigh less or alter your physical appearance. In fact a good chance is you will never actually achieve ‘perfection’ in your own eyes. Even if you are admitted into a facility for an Eating Disorder or self harm.
So this brings me to the start of this post. The ability to love yourself at any size. I have been everything from a New Zealand conventional size 10 to a size 16. Yet I can safely say I was equally as miserable at my smallest body shape as I was at my largest body shape. Loosing weight didn’t do anything to make me happier. In fact (and commonly so) my brain actually still told me I was the wrong shape/size/weight no matter which end of the scale I was on. The key that finally unlocked this messy, painful puzzle in my brain was not my outward appearance – which I had mistakenly thought was the key to solving all my problems. No, loosing weight and getting “skinny” was actually not the golden ticket. But loosing the negativity, self sabotage and ego driven lifestyle that I had ended up in.
Working on my mind has been the ultimate transformation. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE physical activity. I’m a sports nerd at heart, I love working out and breaking a sweat. But that’s where I now am able to choose to do any activity from a place of FUN, not as a punishment or goal that I have to achieve to shed kilos.
Now there is always an argument that bubbles up about weight/size and health. Which I will categorically shut down right now. You cannot tell a persons health based on their shape or size. I can personally attest to being FAR HEALTHIER than when I was at my lowest weight. I know countless “thin” women who eat junk food 24/7 and live an atrocious lifestyle. However because they look thin it is deemed acceptable in our society. However a larger body size person even glances as a potato chip and the sirens go off about being fat and unhealthy.
Genetics play an enormous part in how our bodies look – no matter how “healthy” we eat or choose to live. When watching the Olympics do you ever compare a gymnast against a weightlifter and assume the weightlifter is unhealthy just because they are so much physically larger? Of course not. The same is true for every other person on the planet.
I want to finish by touching on my own personal body positivity example for you. Along this life journey I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Which for those of you who don’t know, often is associated with a great difficultly in loosing weight (I'll write more soon on the science behind your thyroid and endocrine system) I use the Autoimmune Protocol principles every day in my lifestyle and dietary habits, using food as medicine. Even with eating 100% nutritionally perfect I am certainly not the mass media ‘acceptable’ body size or thin-ness.
And I am now able to say I am FINE with that. I love my body for all the wonderful things it does for me every day, with all my rolls, lumps, and scars. Yes I have lost weight since I was first diagnosed as hypothyroid due to dramatically changing my lifestyle. Yes when I first made changes I will admit I was focused on my physical appearance. But I can say confidently now that I have found the body positivity world, as long as I am the healthiest human I can be, my outwardly size and appearance is unimportant.