Body-Love is a war we must keep fighting

Loving my body is an every day war. 

Not just with myself but with the people on the street that I compare myself to, the celebrity bodies everywhere, and the society that is enabling all of the negative imagery, advertising, and thinking to happen in and around my life. 

This amazing thing we call a body, that carries me through my daily activities, that enables me to do everything I want and hope to do, and that continues to give to me even when I beat it down… When was it decided that I should look at it with disgust? Feel uncomfortable in it? Feel like it’s not good enough – that it could be better? 

And who was the idiot who decided this? 

I didn’t like this picture when I first took it last night. I thought my hips were too wide and my stomach stuck out a little too much in that shirt. 

Like, really. 

This insecurity came from the girl who reads fat positive and body positive blogs every freaking day of her life. The girl who enforces body love during every freaking day of her life. 

Yes, I am still insecure even with all the work I’ve done! 

And THANK GOD for all the work I’ve done, because this time last year I would have never seen the beauty beneath the learned embarrassment and, instead, would have deleted the picture out of shame. 

We are trained so well to hate our bodies. Just like dogs learning to sit. Whether we are little or large, we are trained with specifics! 

Are you going to the gym enough? Good girl! 

Oh, still in bed? You’re awfully lazy lately. What happened to your running kick? 

I’ve grown up with the knowledge that unless you’re stomach is flat and your arms are chiseled, you can’t be happy. 

I remember walking the hallways of high school and staring wistfully at the skinny, athletic girls and thinking how much happier than me they must be. 

I remember tracking my weight with weight watchers, standing on the scale every week, and believing that if I just got to 145 I’d be totally confident in myself. Then if I could just get to 140…  

Anything close to fat was not an option if I wanted to feel good about myself. 

Now, seriously. Who the heck came up with this? 

How am I trained so well that – still – I find myself retreating to the “anything close to fat is shameful” mindset? That I don’t like a picture when I first see it because, yes, my shirt hugs my stomach that is not ab-flat? 

I must always stay vigilant to not get sucked down to society ideals. I must always remember to look to my role models – some fat, some skinny, and some in-between – when I need a reminder. I must always love my body no matter it’s shape, and I must treat it as well as it treats me. 

I must remember that I have been trained to think that a belly that sticks slightly or largely out from the rest of me is not worthy, that everyone can reach the “ideal” body, and that I cannot be happy until I have abs without flab but remain curvy. 

I must remember that that all bodies are different, and they are ALWAYS beautiful, and that the ones who say otherwise are either liars or brainwashed. 

I must always fight the war. 


Skinny? Fat? Fit? In-between? Read this.

Tonight, as my fingers clack across the keyboard, I prepare for an all-nighter. What does this include? Pinterest. My greatest obsession and inspiration. 

Pinterest is where I discover crazy awesome DIY’s like wallpapering your fridge, making an indoor tabletop water garden, or making a butterfly feeder

I also discover super delicious treats to bake, healthy but yummy meals to try, and a multitude of yoga poses I’ve yet to discover! 

This site rocks. 

Still, scrolling past pin after pin there is a continuous stream of workouts with titles like “flat belly skinny thighs” or descriptions such as “finally, a workout that actually works!” where a girl who was already very thin is now extremely skinny. 

Let me stop here. 

Skinny is not bad. 

Skinny is not ugly. 

Skinny is beautiful. 

So is Average.

So is Fat. 

Skinny is not bad. 

Working out for the sake of being skinny is bad.

For the aesthetic appeal of skinny. 

For wanting to be “beautiful” because skinny is beautiful and fat is ugly. 

For wanting a flat belly and skinny thighs to love yourself or be loved by others; to feel attractive and good about yourself and appear attractive to others; to be happy. 

For so long working out was to compensate for what I ate; to keep my body in check; and to make sure I didn’t need to buy new jeans before school started (unless the jeans I was buying were smaller)

It became a battle with my body, not a worshiping of my body. 

I am not saying working out is wrong. 

I’m saying what so many people do it for and what it’s posed as is. 

Working out should not be for that “flat belly skinny thighs”; it should be for the energy that roots you to your body and makes you feel invincible. 

And you know what? You don’t have to work out to get this feeling.  

Working out does not make you love yourself. 

Can it be an act of loving yourself? Of course.

It can also be an act of hating and punishing yourself. 

These posts that flood websites, TV, magazines, or the streets we walk on are declaring that skinny is beautiful and healthy, while fat is ugly and unhealthy. This is not right nor okay. 

Working out should not be “to get skinny.” 

It should be to come together with your body in worship no matter if it’s little or big. 

Use it to reinforce self-love practices not self-hate rituals!  

You don’t need a gym membership and you don’t need to do “this many” push-ups followed by “this many” planks to feel great, to be healthy, and to love yourself. 

You don’t need a flat belly or skinny thighs to feel beautiful and wonderful and full of life; to have style and zest; or take stunning pictures you can’t wait to post to Instagram or Facebook. 

That’s all right inside of you already. 

Those posts on Pinterest that occasionally make me feel like crap can suck my big toe, because I am thin and soft, full of muscle and also jiggle (I find my jiggle quite fun), vibrant, full of love, and a source of infinite awesome-ness. This doesn’t change whether I be fat or skinny or whether I sweat it out in a workout every day.  

Still sucking in your belly? Do THIS instead!

Do you ever catch yourself sucking your stomach? Even just lying in bed I’ll realize I’m restricting my gut backwards.

On my very best days I’ll catch myself doing it!

It doesn’t feel good, but after years of self-esteem issues (especially surrounding the stomach area) it’s become automatic.

Flat bellies are in now, right? That’s what the magazines say, the TV shows say, and the gym-babes walking down the street say.

And according to this notion, the rest of us should join a gym, start a new diet, and double up on crunches so we don’t have to suck it in anymore.

With summer and bikini season approaching I say I’m done with that idea. If you have a flat belly, then you rock that flat belly, because that is your belly. But if you, like me, are softer and stick out a little (heck, maybe you stick out a lot! Love it up!) then we’ll rock ours, too.

I’m so much more comfortable and relaxed when I just let my soft belly go where it goes. When it’s not held back it feels good, and I’ve finally been able to look in the mirror with loving eyes and realize it looks good, too.

When I see a girl on the street and wonder what it’s like to rock that tank top without a thought, I remind myself that I can do it too. I just have to stop sucking in, because when I suck my belly in, I suck myself in and restrict me in that moment. It sucks… literally!

Just recently I’ve begun picking out shirts that feel and look great: the ones that my belly can remain free of restrictions and that don’t cause me to second-guess my wardrobe choice on the way out the door. If your closet doesn’t hold items like this, then you deserve to change that.

We deserve to have clothes that make us feel great; that make us feel gorgeous as we walk down the sidewalk. We deserve to love where our body hangs and shifts and feels a little softer than the rest of us… that is your body; that is you.

Summer is coming, and this is the perfect time to say, “Hey. I love that swimsuit, and I love this body, so I will wear both proudly, and fully enjoy myself.”

You’ll feel and look more beautiful, I promise.

You are Not the Problem. THIS is.

What are you most insecure about? I bet you could rattle of multiple things without thinking twice. Now what are you most confident about? What do you just love about yourself?

It’s normal to hear a girl of any age (even young kids now) make a negative comment on her thighs, butt, face, stomach… the list is infinite. These comments are brushed off, because that’s what girls do. We complain about what we hate, and talk about how lucky Jane is to have such perfect skin or how Maddy walks so fearlessly in a bikini. Girls are taught to never be satisfied until our bodies are cardboard thin, our skin is photoshop-flawless, and our faces are perfectly symmetrical and attractive.

Society acknowledges that eating disorders are a problem, but what about negative thought processes? What about crash dieting? What about never feeling “enough” in aspects of ourselves? These are all very much factors of the bigger problem (eating disorders don’t start for the hell of it).  

I went through high school seeing and hearing these things from each of my friends, each of my classmates, and joining right in. I looked in the mirror and analyzed my stomach, my thighs, my upper-arms, and determined that things needed to be fixed. Was I addressing my unhealthy eating habits, how I treated myself, and how I treated my body? No, I was making it clear that the girl standing before me, my reflection was not skinny enough to be happy. It didn’t matter how I treated myself, because I didn’t see that as the issue. This is a problem.

Maybe I wasn’t a classified “anorexic”, and maybe I didn’t force myself to throw up after eating, but thought processes like that are a disorder, and crippling, and need to be addressed.

Upon confronting a good friend of mine on how she treats herself (crash dieting, negative comments, restricting) she said, “That’s just who I am.” That is not who you are; that is how you are taught to think.

If someone can’t be classified as having an eating disorder, they are determined to be “fine.” It’s something we all do, that we all go through; it’s just a part of growing up. I’ve heard plenty claim these excuses. This way of treating and thinking about ourselves is thought of as a phase, but that’s BS. Do you know how many middle-age women are looking in the mirror with the same thoughts? Putting their bodies under the same cycle of dieting? Telling themselves if they can just get to this number, if they could just have that nose, then they would be happy?

This is not a phase; this is not normal; this is a serious problem.

When does the fifteen, twelve, or eight-year-old girl start looking in the mirror and finding what she likes most about herself? Call herself beautiful? Form a deep, loving connection with her soul and body? When do we start teaching her these so important parts of life?

Growing up should be about finding who you are, what you love, and loving it! Not finding your faults and hating them.

Though I still struggle, I got lucky with finding Mara and Kate and learning what it really means to be healthy and happy. Not many girls figure it out this early.

And this is a problem.