This Is What It Actually Means To Be Body Positive, Because It’s More Than Bikini Pics With No Facetune

I have spent the majority of my life hating my body and that other part of it hating my body while preaching “body positivity.” I’ve worn the bikinis that showed more skin than I was comfortable with, and I’ve done it with faux confidence. I’ve flaunted the no-makeup look in a weak attempt to make it seem like I loved my big pores and acne scars. I’ve expounded upon the scale’s inability to define who I am while weighing myself every day. I’ve been there.

None of these things made me love my body or loathe it any less than I did. They didn’t make me feel beautiful or any less broken. They made me feel like a phony, so not only was I uncomfortable in my own skin, but now my own skin wasn’t even housing the true me. I was an imposter who hated herself for it.

I’ve had to really dive into what it means to love myself. It isn’t not caring what I look like. It isn’t posting raw, unedited pictures with the #nofilter underneath. It isn’t the #treatyoself every Friday night. It’s work. Loving your body in a world that points out your flaws and holds you up to the highest aesthetic standards is real and hard work, but it is some of the most important and freeing work we will ever do. And here’s what it looks like.

Real body positivity looks like throwing out the scale. Body positivity isn’t weighing yourself and obsessing over the number while knowing it doesn’t matter. It’s not even needing to know the number because you know how you feel in your body. It is complete disregard. Not “you don’t define me,” but “I don’t even need your input.”

Real body positivity looks like spring cleaning your social media. When I started on the journey to loving my body, I took a long hard look at what I let influence my body image. I discovered that the majority of the influencers I followed on social media challenged how I felt about myself. They painted a picture that I did not want for myself. So I unfollowed. And you know what? I never missed them anyway.

Real body positivity is dressing, styling, and looking the way you like to. It’s picking out the clothes that call to you. It’s wearing makeup if you want to, how much you want to, and how you want to. You want to wear makeup to the gym? Do it. You want to wear pajamas to the grocery store? I am here for it. Your body is your vehicle, and you can dress it up however you please. Real body positivity is knowing yourself and honoring that.

Real body positivity is giving yourself a break. I used to work out every single day of the week, whether I was sore or not. I pushed my body so hard and it hated me for it. Every one of my joints ached. I was no longer flexible. I stopped listening to the signals my body gave me. We get one body, and it’s ours to love and honor and care for our entire lives. Real body positivity is respecting and listening to your body.

Real body positivity is dancing to your favorite songs naked in the shower.

Real body positivity is working out as a celebration of all your body can do, not as punishment for what you ate or how you look.

Real body positivity is eating to feel good, both mentally and physically, because you and your body deserves it.

Real body positivity is complimenting, not criticizing, yourself first when you see a mirror.

Real body positivity is strutting with your headphones on, without a care in the world.

Real body positivity is giving your body that extra hour of sleep on the weekends or a warm bath after a long workday.

Real body positivity isn’t done for the ‘Gram. Real body positivity isn’t a hashtag. It’s a lifelong commitment to a loving relationship with the only body you will ever get and honoring that commitment between others and their bodies. Real body positivity is rooted in kindness, knowing every body is worthy, accepted, and loved just as it is.

About the author
I am a bikini competitor, baker, word lover, & personal trainer. Follow Jennifer on Instagram or read more articles from Jennifer on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related