fitness Health Lifestyle

What does Body Positivity really mean?

By: Danielle Kelly

I learned a new phrase today. “Bad Fatty”; have you heard of it? A bad fatty is a person who is fat for reasons that they can control, which means that a “good fatty” is someone who is fat only because there is something wrong with their body.

By the age of 14, I had learned that I could manipulate and control how my body changed. For most people that would be fine, but in my teen-aged mind what I expected of how my body should look and act was just as skewed as how I saw myself in the mirror every day. It wasn’t someone or something that told me this, it was everything, and everyone. I didn’t see anyone that looked quite like I did, and the only thing I could control about that was me. I had inadvertently decided that I was a Russian Nesting Doll, with smaller and smaller versions of myself just waiting inside to come out, I just had to work hard enough to make it happen.

When I was about 16 I decided to start eating 3 meals a day again after years of restricting, calorie counting, excessive exercising, and trying to control my body, a body that was just trying to grow and develop. I started gaining all the weight I was spending every ounce of energy trying to escape. Is that when I became a bad fatty? I didn’t have the words for it then, but that’s how I felt. That was when I decided that I wasn’t going to measure, evaluate, overthink, and punish myself for everything that I decided to eat, and my body was not made to be the size 4 I desperately thought it needed to be. The problem with this was that everyone around me hadn’t made this huge, monumental decision with me. What I looked like was changing in ways that I had never physically let myself before, and what I felt like was changing too, but I still didn’t see anyone that looked like me being shown as a person that added any value to the picture.

This lead to a lot of apologies made for how much room I took up in this world. I thought that there was a direct relation to my worth to the rest of the world, and the numbers that appeared in front of me on the scale. I would try and hide my body with my clothes, or try and be a good fatty by trying every diet, shake, and workout to prove that it wasn’t my fault that this is how my body looked now; that I may be fat, but I was working out enough and haven’t eaten a carb in 6 months, so it was acceptable. At first I believed that I had made a mistake by “letting myself” gain weight, and I must just be doing something wrong. Everyone I saw around me could apparently eat whatever they want, whenever they want, workout when it is conducive to their busy schedule, and look airbrushed in every Instagram picture they post, so if I was putting in that effort, but still didn’t look at what I saw online, the common denominator is me, right?

Eventually I had to realize that there was no magic number that would make me, and everyone else that felt entitled to an opinion on my size, happy, so I stopped counting. It was like figuring out the game was rigged, and deciding not to play. I stopped listening to what I was “supposed to” be doing, and started really listening to what my body was telling me, and just doing that, one step at a time. I started moving my body more, because it made me feel good. I stopped worrying about justifying or explaining every bite of food I put in my body, and punishing myself tomorrow for what I’d eaten yesterday. I started following people online that looked like me, not just ones I aspired to look like, and more importantly ones that made me feel good about who I am as a person. Finally, and possibly most freeing was I stopped letting people influence how I felt about myself and how I looked that had no authority over how I moved through the world every day.

Luckily more and more attention is being brought to the body positivity movement. I would have benefited endlessly if I would have been able to learn most of these things before becoming an adult. The older you get the harder it is to unlearn all that you have picked up unintentionally along the way. It is nice knowing that the next generation will grow up seeing more ads and media that actually reflect the world they live in. I worry though that when people start feeling the need to classify between good and bad fatties, between being body positive or body neutral, we are fighting the wrong battle.

To me, being body positive means being positive that this body I have, as it is right now, is what carries me through all that I have been through, and no one can evaluate just what that is by looking at me. My body has been with me every step of the way, and the very least that I can do in return is to speak to myself and to treat myself the same way I would treat a friend of mine, because at the end of the day, I am the only one listening to that inner voice that seemed so loud for so long. So next time you catch that inner voice saying something to you that you would never say out loud to another person, ask yourself who is really listening to you?

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