Now a days there is so much talk about body positivity and loving the skin you are in… but how did we even get to this point? How did we come to the idea that we must be told to love our bodies? More importantly, how to practice body positivity once we know we need it? Remember when you were a kid and didn’t have a care in the world? No cares about how you looked, what you wore or that maybe your hair didn’t stay as flat as so and so’s (My hair to this day NEVER stays flat)
A few weeks back I took my now DramaTeen (formerly known as DramaTween) clothes shopping for a few items. My dear girl has had some kind of crazy growth spurt and none of the old things fit quite as well. Factoring in her height she also has the added bonus of being between sizes (le struggle). Now I must preface this by saying, I typically do ALL of my shopping online. I shop from the same stores and know my sizing and being a young woman (cough, cough) of a particular age, I know what materials work best for my curvy body type.
I cant even remember the last time I went inside an actual store for the purpose of clothing. As an added bonus I tend to follow women on social media with my similar body type such as Dlolo and Kelclight to help me make my decision about brands that I am unfamiliar with. For the most part this has worked wonders and I hardly ever have an issue. In the slight chance that I do, my try on’s are in the comfort of my own home #winwin.
The Shopping Trip
We go into the store and make a few selections to take to the dressing room. Because she is now 13, I let her go into the room alone, mainly because the last thing she could ever fathom is me sitting there in the dressing room while she changes. Also, as mothers we have to be hyper aware of the boundaries we set for our girls. Giving them the option of having you in there sends a much more positive message about doing what feels comfortable and setting boundaries. Verses you just sitting there while she doesn’t quite feel comfortable and sending the message that my feelings as a parent is more important than her feelings as a person. But that is a completely different topic for another day.
A few minutes past and I’m not seeing my girl come out. The dressing room is extremely quiet and I gently knock on the door, “Is everything ok?” She responds very quietly, “I’m fine. I’m ready to go.” I go into the dressing room and the look of pure sadness on my girls face broke my heart into a billion pieces.
Instantly I was mentally pulled back to the 12 year old me that also was taken to a department store (Jcpenny’s to be exact) only to find out I couldn’t fit anything. The embarrassment, shame and sadness came rushing back and I felt each emotion all over again. If I’m being honest, this exact shopping trip is the one that started my own personal hate for my body and began my toxic relationship with food + working out. One day I will share more on that very tough time in my life, but this post is about present day + my beloved DramaTeen.
Sitting in that dressing room with her I actually felt shame that I hadn’t even considered the ramifications. Because honestly deep down I truly knew better. This is the EXACT reason I don’t shop in store now. This feeling. This embarrassment. And instant negative self talk that came along with the experience. Had I remembered maybe I could have prevented this feeling she was feeling right now. Maybe I could have prepared her somehow. Protected her. The truth is no matter what I could have done, this moment would have come at one point or another.
There was so much to unpack mentally and emotionally for myself in this moment sitting in the dressing room with DramaTeen. I knew what I did next would help mold how she viewed her body + potentially how she would love and care for her body. I had a new mission, my goal now was to prevent her from going down the same road that I had because I didn’t have the support that I needed to know that it was okay to love my body even though it was changing. That change would come no matter what in one form or another and that loving each part of those changes was important.
From that day Operation Body Positivity was launched! If you have kids, then you know NOTHING and I mean NOTHING goes under the radar with them. They see you, they hear you and they mimic you. Good, bad and indifferent they mold their views and perceptions based on what you personally present to them. I knew that it was important that my actions spoke louder than my words. That me simply saying “you are beautiful” was not enough. That I needed to show her how to love herself through loving myself. Here are some of the things that I began to implement in my household and with my DramaTeen.
How to Practice Body Positivity
- Follow People that look like you
- In this technology induced age, there is social media EVERYWHERE. Having visual reminders to love your body can make loving yourself that much easier. The more you can see yourself “represented” in others the more you are being reminded that YOU belong. Following accounts that make you feel good about yourself and inspire you is a big step in body positivity and loving yourself.
- Positive Self Talk:
- As people we can either be A. our own biggest cheerleaders or B. our own biggest critic. I’ve talked a lot in previous post about positive self talk. Positive self talk and body image + perception go hand in hand. The better you are at positive self talk the easier it becomes to redirect your thoughts from the negative. Words are powerful, specifically the ones that stay inside of our heads. The more positive talk about your body you have, the more you believe the positive things and increase your body positivity image in your minds eye.
- Sounds super easy, but often times its one of those easier said than done type of deals. Accepting who you are and what you look like is a huge step in loving yourself. Acceptance doesn’t have to be anything major other than acknowledging that your body is ok just as it is.
- Closet Cleanse
- Clean the closet of things that no longer fit you in this moment. That action in itself will take mental weight of the past off your shoulders. Closet cleaning allows you to live in your present moment. In the moment of acceptance without beating yourself up over jeans that worked 3 years ago and don’t work today. Holding on to various sizes doesn’t help motivate. It actually does the opposite and heightens the negative self talk that happens any time you try those items on and they don’t meet your expectation.
- Stop Buying things that don’t fit
- Buying items that you have to “lose” weight to fit in, may seem like a motivating action. But in reality it is the beginning of a toxic relationship with clothing + spending. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing it out the store, then you WON’T feel confident. Buying items that are not a good fit, or are not for your body type isn’t setting yourself up for success but really leading you down a rabbit hole of possible negativity.
- Throw out the scales
- There has been a narrative for as long as I can remember that if you were a certain height then you should weigh a specific amount. Anything over or under that amount wasn’t good. It is very easy to get fixated on numbers and to become a little obsessed over what the scale may say. Weighing yourself each day doesn’t make you healthy. Living a healthy lifestyle with positive choices makes you healthy.
- Finding Movement
- All exercise + movement isn’t created equal. I am a firm believer that if the exercise of your choice feels like a punishment then you wont be consistent. Finding opportunities for movement in your own skin that you actually enjoy you will do it more often. Remember that finding movement isn’t necessarily about losing weight. It could be a perk, but the real focus is feeling comfortable in your own skin and boosting confidence.
- Be mindful of your Tribe
- Birds of a feather flock together right? Surround yourself with people that build not only you up but their selves! Being around a group of friends that negative self talk themselves can be contagious. Be weary of the group of friends that spend most of their time talking about other people in a negative light.
- Know your triggers
- Being mindful of the things that could potentially cause you to lose sight of positivity or send you down the road of negative self talk. Protect your peace friend at all cost. Do what is right for you, if that means setting boundaries, set them.
Body Positivity is a life long journey especially for those just like me, who have struggled with this aspect of life. I can say that with time, it does become easier as you begin to shift your mindset. Positive self talk while surrounding yourself with people that support you +being very aware of your boundaries. Its important to find that line of grace. Because you may stumble and at the end of the day we are all human. You are not alone. I hear you my friend, I see you and I’m right here on this journey with you. How do you practice body positivity? What tools work for you?