On being body positive when you positively hate your body.

On being body positive when you positively hate your body.

I’ve always had a tumultuous relationship with my body. It was my body that stood in the way of me being a dancer because no matter how hard or often I stretched it, it refused to get more flexible. It was my body that rejected sex and refused to let me lose my virginity (that is a story for another day). And now, it is my body that is making me feel ashamed, ugly, uninspired.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be “body positive.” I’m supposed to reject what the media says bodies should look like. To embrace my figure. To not care how others might perceive me. To love myself, to love my body, whatever size I am.

But I don’t.

I just don’t.

I don’t love my body.

And I don’t love myself for letting my body get to this point.

And I’m doing what I can to change my body.

And I’m doing what I can to change myself.

Because this body isn’t healthy. And this body isn’t happy. And this body isn’t me.

On being body positive when you positively hate your body.

My body is this way because I neglected it.

My body is this way because I abused it.

My body is this way because when I was too depressed to move, getting a grande white mocha at Starbucks was the only motivation I had to get out of bed and go to work.

It’s this way because I’d finish eating whatever was on my plate even if I was already full.

It’s this way because I’d then get something else to eat even though I’d already finished a meal and was already full.

It’s this way because I would eat just because I remembered food was there.

It’s this way because I would order enough takeout fast food for three or four people and I would eat until I couldn’t eat anymore, throw it all up to make room, and then go back to finish what was left.

It’s this way because any time I was thirsty, be it 2pm or 2am, I would grab a Coke.

It’s this way because most nights I’d come home from work and go straight to bed.

It’s this way because many weekends I wouldn’t leave bed at all.

I don’t love the me that does those things. And I don’t love the body that that me created.

I’d love to love my body. I’d love to look at myself in the mirror and see a body I was proud of, no matter it’s size.

But it’s hard to embrace your curves when the only curve you have is the circular arc of your belly. It’s hard to feel attractive when people on trains give up their seats to you because they think you’re pregnant. It’s hard to want to meet a guy when all your photos on Tinder are from five years and 60 pounds ago and when, in person, you just want to disappear.

And it’s hard to love the body that’s gained those 60 pounds in 5 years because of neglect, abuse, depression.

I look at other women in all shapes and sizes and think they are beautiful and think their bodies are beautiful. But when I look at myself, I just can’t see that in me.

I look in the mirror and think, who is this person?

I see photos of myself and think, who is this person?

Because that person is not me. And that person created this body. And that person is living in this body.

On being body positive when you positively hate your body.

I started this year weighing 194 pounds. The heaviest I’ve ever been. The unhealthiest I’ve ever been.

And I started this year going to the gym three times a week, walking more, cutting back on sugar, trying not to overeat, trying not to emotionally eat. I’ve been making changes. And I’ve been making progress.

I’m trying to be body positive, but, I guess, in a different way. I can’t look at myself in a mirror and think that I look healthy or think that I look beautiful. But I can, now, look at myself in the mirror and see someone who is stronger than she knows, who is capable of more than she knows. I can see someone who is working hard to make changes in her life. I can see someone who is not weak. I can see someone who is worthy.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Ali
    March 11, 2019at1:55 am

    Val, almost everything you wrote could be about me. It’s so hard to be told I’m supposed to love my body no matter what it looks like when I know I’m about 60 pounds overweight & got this way because I eat too much in general, I eat too much junky unhealthy food, & I drink alcohol too frequently. And I don’t exercise. I hate looking in the mirror & knowing I lost so much weight about 4 years ago & did like how I looked, even if it was still quite a bit above what I “should” weigh, but I gained it all back in the past 2 years. I’m going to Uganda with Katie in a few days & im skipping the gorilla trek because I’m so out of shape I’m afraid I won’t make it & there aren’t good options for getting back out if I can’t finish. And I kind of hate myself for that.

    I think you’re so brave for posting this. I don’t even post pictures of myself with clothes on, & you’ve just put it all out there. As important as it is to love yourself & your body, it doesn’t happen overnight, & this was a good reminder that it all takes time & work. And I feel a little less alone knowing you feel similar & you’re dealing with similar stuff.

  • Ashley
    March 11, 2019at4:52 am

    This is a beautiful post! I had a similar moment or moments about six months ago. I have different curves and a different number, but the sentiment was the same: my body is not healthy and my body is not happy. Rock on, lady!

  • Amber
    March 20, 2019at3:23 pm

    I’ve thought about this a lot. I think the “love your body” thing is… too much for a lot of us. But, I think you can love YOURSELF, and in loving yourself, you’ll want to tackle getting it into a healthier shape. You’ll want to eat water and vegetables. That’s always how it has worked for me. If I come at going to the gym as a form of caring for and loving on myself, my body – as a byproduct of that care and love – improves. And it starts a good, happy cycle of caring for myself by going to the gym > self love begets more self love > body improves > more self love > going to the gym and eating well > body improves > more self love… and so on. Powerful stuff. But I have watched friends who try to hate themselves thinner, and within a month they’re downing 4 margaritas more than they meant to, and eating crap because “who cares”.

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