For 40 years I was an acceptable regular size, according to societal norms. But I hated my body and felt awful about how I looked. For the past 1 year I’ve been plus size (according to the people who make our clothes and have decided that any item above a size 14 needs to be in a different section of the store). But this is the happiest, most content, I have ever felt in my body. This may be the biggest irony of my life. Loving myself, inside and out, has been a journey. Actually, still is a journey, as the road has not come to an end. I still have days when I feel down about how I look or what size I am. But those days pass, as do all bad days, and life moves forward.
If you are on a similar journey of body acceptance, or would like to start, I offer the following actionable steps. Not theories, slogans or resources, rather honest-to-goodness tangible things you can do starting TODAY to love the skin you’re in.
- Throw away your scale. Your weight is an arbitrary data figure that has no real meaning in your life. It’s simply the quantifiable amount of gravity that pulls on your specific body. Yet we give that number the power to wreak havoc on our self-esteem, mood, and eating habits. So ditch it and never look back.
- Flip the script in your mind. Positive self-talk is they key to success. Knock off all the awful things you say to yourself when you look in the mirror. That horrible inner voice is just plain mean. So why are you listening to it? Every time you start to say something self-deprecating, change it to a compliment. Instead of “Ugh, I’m so fat”, say to yourself, “Damn! You look good!”. Keep doing this. Every single day, a thousand times a day, until the negative voice is gone. Even if at first you feel foolish or don’t believe yourself, stick with it. Pretty soon you will believe the good voice…which has been inside of you the whole time.
- Stop body shaming conversations on the spot. Shut that shit down. Do not talk bad about yourself in a group, and do not let others talk bad about themselves. Women need to help each other by no longer making the focus of our conversations “I feel so fat” “I need to go on a diet” “my skin is disgusting” “these jeans used to fit” “I need to get my fat ass to the gym”. Do not accept that form of body-shaming in your presence. Instead talk about projects, aspirations, hobbies, current events. Imagine the power in turning negative put-downs into positive thoughtful discussions. We can make this change the new reality one conversation at a time.
- Stop reading beauty magazines. Save your money and your sanity. We’ve all seen the studies about how low our self-esteem plummets after flipping thru a fashion mag. So just don’t do it. That goes for following pages on FB, Pinterest, and Twitter that make you feel bad about yourself. They may be disguised as “Beauty Tips”or “How to be Your Best Self” but if they are essentially a long list of the changes you need to make to be “better”, delete them.Trust me, you will never miss their advice.
- Buy clothes that fit. And get rid of the ones that don’t. Do you hear me? Your closet should be equipped with clothes that make you feel fabulous. If they are uncomfortable or depress you, time to bin them and move on. And SO THE F WHAT if they need to be a bigger or smaller size?? Repeat after me: It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM4jJc8w4H0
- Blame the object, not yourself. Bad pic of you? Then it’s the angle or lighting that wasn’t flattering, not that you’re ugly/fat/gross. Your butt doesn’t fit on a chair? Then the chair is too small, your butt isn’t too big. Can’t fit through a tight spot, don’t apologize, the spot is too small, you’re not too big. Pants to tight? Buy new pants (see above). Someone insult you? Then they’re an asshole and you should ignore the comment. Stand up for YOU. Feel good about the space you take up on this planet. Own it. Use it. Make your surroundings conform to your needs–not the other way around. Be a BOSS.
- Do more of what you love. And stop doing what you feel you “have to do”. Stop listening to what society/media tell us to do, be like, and look like. Throw away your list of things to do, like: lose 10 lbs, go to the gym 3 times a week, fit into college jeans, eat more healthy. Dig deep and discover what makes your soul happy. Maybe it’s a day at the beach, brunch with a friend, reading a book, hiking in the forest, swimming in the ocean, having mind-blowing sex, trying restorative yoga, meditating in a meadow, eating a second dessert, baking a new recipe, walking your dog, drinking fine wine, volunteering for a cause, running at night, playing with your kids, s’mores around a fire… These are the things that life should be about. These are the things that should be on your to-do list.