I have always been someone who encourages others to feel comfortable in their own skin: I am all for body positivity and self-love! While physical health is important, even if someone is outside of their healthy weight range, body shaming does not help anyone. It’s counter-productive really. I think the only way to make progress in a healthy lifestyle is to first accept yourself and your body for what it is. Obviously you’ll still have days where your body image isn’t up to par, but when you look at your body in a positive light, it can be easier to deal with these days and they will most likely be less frequent.
As I’ve explained previously on my blog, when I was younger and going through puberty, I was overweight. At this point in my life I did not practice any form of body positivity and to say I shamed my body would be an understatement. I absolutely despised my body. I never liked pictures of me nor was I ever happy when I looked in the mirror. I hated my jiggly arms, my thunder thighs, my pudgy stomach, my chubby cheeks… Clearly, this is not a good way to think about yourself, and it definitely did not lead to a positive transformation of any kind. It led to a girl crying about her body, comparing herself to others endlessly, and ultimately it became a contributing factor to the onset of my eating disorder.
Thinking back on how I viewed my body breaks my heart, mainly because it allows me to realize that other people look at their bodies that way too. When I began my journey in recovery, one of the main shifts in my way of thinking was in regards to body positivity. I stopped wanting other people to be bigger than me so I was somehow ‘winning,’ I stopped being envious of the girl in treatment who had her collar bone sticking out just that much further than my own, and I began to realize that being “skinny” wasn’t necessarily the best thing in the world. The miracle for me was the day I looked in the mirror and was actually okay with what I saw. No, I didn’t love it right away or completely lose all my sense of discomfort – but for once, I actually thought I looked okay. Since then, I’ve come even further in terms of my own body positivity and instead of looking for things I don’t like in the mirror, I just appreciate the things I see. I definitely still have days where I don’t love what’s looking back at me, but the way I handle it now is different. I don’t cry and punch my thighs; I simply shrug it off and go on with my day – knowing the next day I’ll probably feel differently.
Something that has been around for a long time is the idea of the “Bikini Body” or “Beach Body.” Media has used this term for a while to describe the ideal look for a body at the beach. While recently, there has been movement by many individuals towards the idea that any body is a “Beach Body” and that putting a bikini on is what gives you a “Bikini Body”, that doesn’t mean people don’t still struggle with the notion that there is an ideal body for summer. Scrolling through Instagram I see countless comments on bikini photos saying, “bod goals” or “OMG your body!!!” and other comments to the same effect. While I am also an advocate for positive comments and giving love to others, this is a reminder to me that there is still an ideal beach body constructed by society.
Since beginning my fitness journey, I’ve seen progress in my body of course, and it’s something I’m proud of. However, it has led to some more negative thoughts in terms of my “summer body”. A part of me has wanted to wait to wear a bathing suit to see if I can make more progress on my body first. That part of me is also worried that when I do eventually put one on, my body won’t be good enough and I won’t look good like I want to. However, in my mind, I recognize how ridiculous this is. I never thought my body before I began working out wasn’t worthy of a bikini, so why should my body now be any different? Especially if I’m encouraging other people to be comfortable in their own bodies, why shouldn’t I be comfortable in mine?
Though you still might have thoughts that seem to coincide with the “Bikini Beach Body” belief, it’s all about your ability to challenge those thoughts. It’s important to remind yourself that your body is great just the way it is. Yes, maybe you want to improve it in certain ways, but right now, this is the body you have and this is the body you need to know how to love. It’s not a one shot deal though, you have to keep working at that self-love throughout your life. It won’t always be easy, and some days you might just really not be able to turn those negative thoughts around, but making the effort is half the battle. Constantly hating on your body and putting yourself down only leads to more negativity. In order to reach a positive outcome, you have to have a positive outlook. So, though it can be difficult to brush off the media’s perception of the “beach body”, I really think it’s worth the effort. I try to challenge it on a daily basis and I will definitely be working hard to do so this coming weekend. So stop bashing your body! Why not join the battle against the “Bikini Beach Body” belief instead?