Body Positivity: The Final Frontier
*trigger warnings for body image, puberty and bullying*
Now, I’m not going to give this self-absorbed spiel about how being skinny is so hard. It isn’t. I don’t have to worry about my diet; I’ve never been on a diet. I don’t think about my weight ever. My only clothing-related worry is if it’s too baggy, which isn’t even a real problem.
That being said, it’s hard trying to maintain body positivity.
Skye I thought you just said being skinny isn’t hard.
You’re right, random italicized voice. However, just like every person on the planet, I too experience a lot of insecurity.
We live in a very delicate time period. Cue the Britney Spears or A Thousand Miles or whatever music makes you think of 2001. Being skinny was super popular in the early 2000’s, when everyone wanted the Kiera Knightly look. Models were starving themselves on the reg, and plus size models were about as common as a chupacabra sighting. Remember that That's So Raven episode when they photoshopped Raven to look super skinny? Not a lot of people actually looked like that. These looks were unrealistic and impossible for most women to achieve, and yet it was considered the ideal female form.
I’m not claiming that we live in a new era of body acceptance, where everything is sunshine and rainbows. Instead, as a society, we’ve shifted into a newer, even less attainable standard of body. Nowadays, women are expected to be thin, but not too thin. Thick, but God-forbid they’re too thick. They should have a little padding in the trunk and the chest, but everywhere else should still be stick-turesque. This is the “slim thick” era. What does that even mean? Those are antonyms for crying out loud.
As you can see, I missed the figurative skinny bus. I was born in the late 90’s, which made me like, 6, in the early 2000’s. As I grew and physically matured, I was pretty much a stick figure. I’ve always been underweight, much to the chagrin of my doctors. My mother was so worried about me that she’d always ask them what more could be done. They always said, “Well she’s healthy, so we don’t really know.”
I was bullied when I was in middle school for being skinny and flat chested. I didn’t look like most of the girls in my class because puberty kind of forgot about me.
Apparently that was really funny to some people. Freakin’ hilarious.
In my humble opinion, middle school boys are truly the worst type of humans. In addition to eating everything in sight and laughing at fart jokes, they would say some of the most awful, awful things to me. They’ve affected me so deeply, that to this day I still replay some of their words in my head.
I went to a Christian school. I’d hear the same verses repeated over and over. Yes, I hear you, I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I know I’m made in His image. So why am I praying to God every night that I wake up with 34Cs? Why are boys telling me that no one will ever love me, because there’s nothing there to love?
Again, I’m not comparing my body image struggles with anyone else’s, because I understand that what I experienced was like choosing “medium” as your difficulty setting on a video game. It could be way worse. (Which reminds me… If you haven’t read my piece on understanding privilege…click here)
What I’m saying is, nobody is without their insecurities. We live in this society where you’re always wanting to be more, to look different, to be more desirable. Everyone feels this inequality in their core. The only problem is that life is too short to be constantly comparing yourself to other people, who are comparing themselves to other people. It’s too short to harm your own flesh because you can’t sculpt it into something fairer. I wish I could go back and tell myself, Skye, life is too short to cry in the girls’ locker room while people taunt you in your training bra, and it’s too short to start stuffing your bra with toilet paper every day. But it will be helpful during allergy season.
Body positivity is hard, but the best advice I’ve ever heard is found in one simple sentence:
Fake it till you make it.
Somewhere along the line, faking self-confidence just becomes real self confidence.
I’ll never forget the first time I bit back at those middle school boys. I’d been rehearsing my comeback for weeks, plotting my roast session in front of the mirror before bed. The day finally came when some poor, unassuming boy started in on me with one of their usual bits.
“Skye how much do you weigh? Like 50 pounds? I could throw you across the room!”
I chuckled. Not because of this lame attempt to make me feel bad, but because I was about to roast this boy.
“Boy please, I’m 50 pounds and I’m still too much for you to handle. Get a better line.”
When I tell you that joke went off in the 7th grade...
Looking back, it was super lame, but I'm glad it was funny back then. More importantly, though, I gained back a lot of self confidence that day. Eventually less boys made fun of me (but then again, they probably just realized cooties weren’t a thing), and I got to worry about more interesting things like ridiculous dress codes and pimples that just don’t go away.
By pushing yourself in a small way everyday, you can build your self-confidence as fast as they built that Taco Bell down the street from my house. Muy rapido.
What do I mean by “pushing yourself in a small way everyday”? Here are two ways:
Give yourself that little something extra in the morning that makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe you got some new shoes – pop them on! Feeling like a schlub? Maybe a little eyeliner will have you feeling fleeky. Maybe you bought a really ripe avocado from the grocery store – take it out of the skin, mash it with some salt, pepper, and lime juice, and spread it over some toast.
I love avocado toast so much. Tangent, sorry.
Another way to build self confidence is through self affirming statements. Look in the mirror. Really look at yourself. Notice what's soft. Notice what's hard. Note what you like about the reflected image. For me, I like my eyes and my shoulder blades. My eyebrows are awesome too. Tell yourself these things out loud. Just noting little things about yourself that you genuinely love can help you understand that the whole of you was made with love.
Like, yeah I'm still super skinny. But I'm cute. Get at me.
If you haven’t paid attention to any of this, at least remember this: Avocado toast tastes better than bad self esteem feels. Just kidding.
Body positivity isn’t an overnight process; it isn’t the flick of a light switch. It’s a process of correcting thoughts of self-hatred, and promoting self-love. Just give it a try.
Also, if you haven't read it yet-- My mom took my weave out?!