I've been reading about body positivity for a while now and I recently took the jump myself to cut out diet culture and really commit to body acceptance. The problem is, I don't feel all that different. I thought this would bring me closer to being the outgoing, confident version of myself that I want to be, but now without dieting I'm not sure who I am at all. You seem to be a totally new person since discovering body positivity, when did the change happen for you?
I want you to stop for a minute and ask yourself why you expected body acceptance to instantly change everything about you? Where does that idea of magical transformation come from?
I think you know deep down that there's no single thing you can say or do that will turn you into an entirely new person, but since you've been surrounded by diet culture for your whole life, you've been conditioned to believe that there is.
Weight loss was supposed to be the single thing that transformed you into who you were meant to be. It was supposed to turn you into a whole new version of yourself as soon as the dial landed on the magic number. It was the instant transformation. Not just of your body, but of your whole self. We're sold it so seamlessly that if we do hit the goal weight we're genuinely surprised to find that we are still the same person we were all those pounds ago.
The magical transformation of everything we are doesn't happen. It doesn't happen when we get the dream body. And it doesn't happen the second we let go of the dream body either.
I'm realising more and more that letting go of the unrealistic body goals and the calorie counts didn't change me into an entirely new person. I wasn't suddenly confident, fulfilled, or unwaveringly happy. But do you know what ditching diet culture did do? It created the space inside me to find those things. Space to grow into more after spending a lifetime becoming less and less. Space to find out who I was supposed to be – the version of me that would have existed if I'd never been taught to see my body as all I had to offer the world.
If you're reading this you probably have a version of yourself that you would've become if the body obsession had never crept in. A version of you that follows passions without worrying how you look doing them. A version of you who moves through the world knowing you deserve your place instead of apologising for existing in your body. A version of you that should have been allowed to flourish and grow without our culture reducing your existence down to numbers and glances.
Letting go of the body obsession might have created the space to become that version, but you still have to give yourself the time to grow into them.
I still don't know exactly who that version of me is. After 15 years of filling my identity with thinness it's going to take some time to fill that space with the things that should actually be there. It might take a lifetime. But a lifetime of becoming who I was supposed to be instead of becoming what I was told to be sounds like a good enough transformation to me. Just a slower one.
Be patient with yourself while you are finding that version of you. There is no time limit on growing into you.
Love & bopo,
P.S. If you like this column and want more advice like this, I wrote a whole book of it! You can find Body Positive Power here.