It’s not uncommon for my thoughts throughout the day to range from “you’re perfect just as you are” to “ugh, you’re not good enough.” If that seems completely contradictory, it’s because I regularly struggle with wanting my body to look like a movie star’s while also working hard at acceptance. These two parts of me tug at one another like children who can’t get along.
Body and fat positivity are important to me. It’s taken years of exposure to and practice with body positivity to even make a dent in my thinking about my body. Fat and body positivity both encourage celebrating myself as I am—fat rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, and all. They’re amazing movements and I really care about stitching them into my life. It’s just hard when some of my thinking directly contradicts what I value in these movements, but I know that rewiring my brain is going to take a lifetime.
I still find myself wanting my body to be different. Despite being the first one to say that I’m perfect the way I am, I also regularly have thoughts about wishing I was thinner. I daydream about losing weight and having certain parts of my body change. Sometimes these aren’t just thoughts, they’re total ruminations leaving me thinking about wanting to be different for hours or days. It’s really embarrassing to admit, because I think of myself as someone who advocates body positivity.
I know that radical body acceptance is the only way for me. Despite my sporadic hunger for a different body, I continue to come back to the fact that radical acceptance is the only path for me. I’m not saying that everything always has to stay the same. Of course, it’s okay to want to make changes to how I’m taking care of myself. However, in order to find true peace, I have to ask myself these questions: What if my body never changes and this is it? Do I want to spend my life fighting or do I want to grow to accept it?
Weight loss is completely ineffective. I’ve learned a ton from Linda Bacon in her book Health At Every Size. She discusses how our bodies have a set point for weight and they hate to go below it. Set points can be pushed higher, but they really can never be pushed lower, meaning our bodies will do everything they can to gain weight back if it’s lost. This leaves weight loss as a really ineffective option. A better option is to find my set point and have healthy habits to maintain where I’m at rather than try to force change.
Diet culture also pummels me with messages. Despite the fact that weight loss doesn’t work, diet culture is constantly berating me about how I should be smaller. This walloping leaves me wanting for the same change I just learned isn’t possible. Since I’m so inundated, I leave all of my body positivity business behind and I start dreaming of a different body. It’s exhausting to do this dance while often having the strings pulled by diet culture.
Comparing myself to others gets me in trouble. It’s so easy for me to compare myself to that skinny friend or even to the one who’s the same size as me but seems to wear her weight more gracefully. Especially on harder days where I’m not feeling super gung-ho about body acceptance, I’m left seeing how my stomach rolls measure up to those of the girl next to me. It really is a tiring game.
Also comparing myself to where I used to be makes me upset. Similar to comparing myself to other people, sizing my present self up to my old self leaves me in an incredibly sour mood. I look at how flat my stomach was compared to the belly I have today and I’m left with all sorts of thoughts about how I’m gross. It’s sad. I have to then do extra work to reel myself in and give myself reminders that I’m indeed a lovable person.
Logically I know I’m good enough. Even after sharing all of my ups and downs with you, I have to say that one thought is consistent in my logical mind throughout all of the madness: I’m good enough just as I am. I say logical mind because sometimes my emotional mind hijacks everything and kicks any logic out. Nonetheless, this thought of being enough always surfaces again, no matter what roller coaster ride my thoughts have brought me on.
I worry that my imperfections will keep me single forever. One of my biggest concerns with wanting to be different is thinking that my current body isn’t lovable enough. Again, logically I know this is total bull, but tell that to my emotional mind. I worry that I’m going to be single forever because no one will love the bumps and lumps I’ve got going on.
I may always have a part of me that desires change. I’ll never ever be a perfect body positive advocate. And you know what? I don’t want to be. I think these conflicting messages make me human and relatable. I’ll always have a part of me that thinks I’m not good enough. I’ve accepted that I’m likely never going to get to a point in my life where I have perfect acceptance of myself. It just isn’t going to happen and that’s okay.
I’m only human—my mixed feelings are natural. If all of this seemed like a whirlwind of back and forth to you—it’s because it was and it is. I’m a human with feelings, thoughts, and desires that are all over the map. It’s completely normal that I’m not just one way. I’m okay with this.
Ultimately, I’m going to keep feeding acceptance in my mind and life. Sure, I have these mixed feelings, but it doesn’t mean I can’t try to keep growing the good ones. What I’m going to do is keep encouraging those thoughts in my mind that center around acceptance of myself as I am. I’m going to feed those thoughts of body celebration and feelings of being good enough. After all, I still am a body positive advocate for myself and others and I want to make the world a safer place for all bodies—starting with my own.