My whole life I have been fat. I remember realizing it in 4th grade (or around age 10) when I looked at my best friend at the time and at my fellow classmates. My cheeks were big, I had a little belly and I just felt different. As a teenager, not only did I struggle with mental health issues, but also with self-hatred. I had bad eating habits and was in a bad mental state about my body, doing things like popping diet pills and other forms of self harm. I’m older now and I’d like to think I’m somewhat wiser. I’m going to preface these tips by saying that working on loving your body is something that will NEVER end. You will continue having to work on this for literally the rest of your life. Some of us have it easier than others, but let me let you in on a little secret… shhh don’t tell anyone: everyone at some point or another struggles with loving their body. Fat, thin, tall, short; everyone. It’s important to remember this when you are trying to work on loving your own: you’re not alone.
On Tumblr, a lot of people come to me to ask about how I learned to love my body and how I seem so confident. After assuring them that I’m just another person trying to be happy with it (as well as life in general) and that I also have my ups and downs, here are some of the things that I often tell them.
- For me, reclaiming the word fat has been immensely helpful. To cut out the shame that comes with it and instead using it as a descriptor and as a powerful identifier. Once I fully realized, “Yeah, I’m fat, and there’s nothing gross or wrong with that,” it has made me feel better. While we are bombarded with messages of “thin is in” or “real women have curves,” it’s very important to remember and repeat to yourself ALL BODIES ARE VALUABLE AND BEAUTIFUL. NO BODY IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER.
- Selfies as self-care are the best. I don’t care what anyone says, taking pictures of yourself clothed (or unclothed) is a great way to look at yourself and feel cute, document days where you feel good and not so good. It is useful for me to go back through them at a later date or even after just taking them. Often on the days when I feel not so good, I can look at these pictures and see some good in myself. My photo booth on my computer is full of them. Sorry not sorry/I will never apologize. I WANT MORE SELFIES FROM EVERYONE ELSE THOUGH PLEASE!!!
- Do your makeup (or no makeup) do your hair and wear clothes that make you feel beautiful. Remember to dress for YOU and what makes you feel happy. For some people that will be baggy jeans and a t-shirt, some people that’s a crochet dress and no bra, some people like me it’s bikini tops as shirts, jersey pencil skirts and ALWAYS red lipstick. People have definitely criticized my style as being outlandish and too flashy and I have seen people very obviously stare and point at me, but I do my best not to let it bother me because the opinions of strangers (while definitely sometimes hurtful) are really, really unimportant. YOUR OPINION IS THE ONLY ONE THAT MATTERS! YOUR BODY YOUR CHOICE!
- That brings me to this next point: surround yourself with body positive beautiful babes who are on the same page as you. Remember that not all toxic relationships are necessarily with BAD people, but that sometimes you have to cut people out of your life for your own well being. If a friend says something rude, body shaming or fat shaming (etc), correct them. Do your best not to be afraid to call people out. (In a respectful and level-headed way. Try not to play the blame game!) Here’s me and my gal pal looking super cute!!
- Spend time with yourself naked just around the house or in your room. Remember that nudity does not always equate to sex and that being naked is wonderful and natural. Look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate it. Run your hands over it and find things about it you didn’t see before. If you’re feeling brave and are 18+, go to nude beaches/clothing optional resorts. I cannot tell you how important it has been to me visiting a non-sexualized place where people of all shapes and sizes are undressed. At first it can be a bit scary, but it is incredibly liberating to lay naked and have the sun on your body and just feel content with other bodies around you. Don’t be afraid to have a look around, but remember not to stare and be rude! (Of course no pictures of anyone, this is obvious, but I’m going to say it anyways.) Also, swimming naked is one of the best feelings and I highly recommend. A+. 10/10.
- And in a sexualized setting, I’ve been dancing burlesque since 2011 which is great not only for expressing myself artistically and wearing sparkly costumes, but as mentioned before surrounding myself in a really positive environment and network of people. Even if you’re not interested in dancing, it’s always fun to see women of all shapes and sizes shaking their stuff. Do a Google search to see if there are any shows happening in a place near you! (This suggestion is also for 18+, or if shows are at bars in the USA, 21+.)
- Use the internet to your advantage: follow blogs of body positive babes to keep positivity in your daily life as well as being able to view all sorts of bodies in a good light. For me, seeing fat bodies on my Tumblr dashboard has made a huge difference in how I view my own fat body. Look at pictures of celebrities and models without photoshop and remember that the images we often see are HIGHLY edited and make us strive for an image of perfection that doesn’t even exist.
- Think about how amazing your body is regardless of its shape, color, size, etc. Our bodies take care of us while we’re sleeping and are like, “Naw I got this, don’t worry, I’ll keep you breathing and your blood flowing and all that necessary stuff while you dream about kissing celebrities,” so do your best to take care of it. Eat food that makes you feel good, throw out the scale, avoid comparing your body to others, avoid filling your brain with the ridiculous crap the diet industry and magazines sell to us everyday, try to get enough sleep, go on walks, take baths, listen to nice music, watch videos of baby animals on YouTube, get more hugs… just treat it nicely as best you can.
- And finally: remember it’s totally okay and natural not to always like your body. Don’t be discouraged if you have bad days. Stay strong and keep trying to take steps forward in your journey. Remember that a step backwards is just a small setback and not the end.
When it all really comes down to it, after years of hating myself, I realized it’s not worth my time to spend it being negative. I love my body the best I can and while there are still things that make me self-conscious, I try my hardest to only acknowledge them, but not overwhelm me.
To end it all, this is a video I found really important and helpful and inspiring: