I am 20 years old and I love body positivity... for other people. Whenever I notice a friend counting calories, or feeling guilt over food, I make sure to gently remind them that if food makes them happy, they should eat it! Thin isn't 'right', gaining weight isn't 'wrong'. Mental health and happiness is what is most important. But, even though I believe what I'm saying is true, I don't live my own life by these principles. How do I go about practising what I preach, and really believing that body positivity exists for me, too?
I. Feel. This. In fact I felt exactly this way when I first found body positivity – it's great for them, they all deserve it, I need to keep doing what I'm doing and changing my body, then maybe one day I'll deserve it too. Sound familiar?
Let's think about this rationally. Everyone else's body is worthy of love, acceptance, and liberation from diet culture, right? That means her, and him, and them, and every body in every single variation there is in the world. Every size, shape, shade, age, gender, and ability that exists on this enormous spectrum of human diversity. But somehow, not you. Why is that?
Your brain might be trying to tell you right now that it's because your body is just too flawed. So flawed that it falls outside the spectrum entirely. But let's imagine that somewhere in the world, amongst all those billions of worthy bodies, is someone who's built exactly like you. Your body twin.
The same size, the same shape, with all the same things you see as flaws on yourself in all the same places. Give your body twin a name. Now imagine meeting that person and telling them the same things that you say to yourself about your own body – that they're hideous, unlovable, too fat, disgusting, that they deserve to hate themselves because their body is so flawed. There is no physical difference between your body and their's, so if you don't deserve to be included in body positivity, neither do they. Would you tell them that?
I don't think that you would. Which means that we've realised something: your body isn't the problem, your mind is. What is it that makes you believe that you don't deserve this? What do you think makes you so unworthy? Because I promise you, there is nothing about you bad enough to make you deserve a lifetime of warring against your body.
Do you know what finally made it click for me? Realising the thing that I actually didn't deserve – I never deserved to be taught that my body was wrong in the first place. Five year-old me did not deserve to be raised in a world so fatphobic that she already believed she was hideous and unlovable. Ten year-old me did not deserve to have her relationship with food fucked up by diet culture. 14 year-old me did not deserve to fall headfirst into anorexia. Because none of those things were my fault. And none of the ways you've been taught to see your body are your fault either. This is something that has been done to us, to all of us, and all of us deserved better.
Once you truly believe that, you can let go of the blame you've been holding towards yourself. It was never your fault. It was never your fault. It was never your fault. So you sure as hell are worthy of healing from that now. Oh, and don't forget about your body twin, they're counting on you too.
Love & bopo,