Art by Arfa Khan
My Experience with Body Positivity
by Alexis Daigle
The body positivity (or body posi for short) movement has been so instrumental in boosting the spirits and self esteems of people everywhere, including myself. Since we are almost at the peak of summer when it’s the hottest, people tend to flock to the beaches. Body positivity is necessary now more than ever. This is my story with body posi.
I’ve always hated myself for as long as I can remember. I can recall my five year old self telling my mom that I hated my stomach because it stuck out. In third grade, I cried because my thighs were bigger than the other girls’. I had grown up watching beautiful, skinny girls plastered everywhere, and here I was, nine years old already hating my body. In hindsight, my self-hatred was ridiculous. I was the same healthy size as all of my friends and developing well, and that’s what all that matters when you’re six.
That hatred never went away, and it continued to eat at me through elementary and middle school, up until seventh grade. This was when I discovered the wonder that is body positivity. I had always been told I was “beautiful” and “skinny” but I could never see myself as skinny or beautiful. Then I discovered that you could consider yourself fat and beautiful. That had seemed so ground-breaking to me, even though it was so obvious and I had always considered all of my friends beautiful, regardless of size. It had just never occurred to me to apply the same logic to myself.
When I look back, I wonder how I could’ve thought that I wasn’t as pretty or lovable as other girls when I was so adorable. But throughout my life, I could never shake the thing that was causing my emotions: my brain. Every time I looked in a mirror, my brain started showing me all of the things that were wrong with me – like an ESPN sports reel. My acne is back, my face is red, ugly and chubby, my neck flab is atrocious, my stomach is huge, my thighs are the size of Australia, my stretch marks might as well spell ‘ugly’, and a plethora of other things that tore me down over and over again, despite everybody helping to build me back up. And I did need help from everybody. I was so dependant on what people thought of me. I was so worried that everybody hated me and thought I was ugly, and they all laughed at me behind my back and only pretended to be friends with me out of pity. I thought that while their compliments built me up for a short time, the never ending, gut wrenching feeling that I was ugly, fat and worthless, and that all those were somehow synonymous, always came back to haunt me. I thought that everything I did and said was annoying and ridiculous, and that people were lying to me to protect my feelings when they said they actually liked being my friend. These irrational fears ate me up (they still do from time to time) until I was crying every other night because of how awful I believed I was.
Then, in seventh grade, I discovered social justice and saw for the first time how far body posi truly branched. I read posts from so many different people talking about their experiences with self-doubt and body positivity. I threw myself into it and did everything I could to convince myself I was beautiful the way I was. I spent hours pouring over myself in a mirror, pointing out everything that I liked about myself. I complimented those around me more than usual, and stayed positive in as many aspects in life as I could, hoping that it would also boost my own self-esteem. My friends and family helped me so much, too. They pointed out somethings they liked about the way I looked whenever they saw me and provided overall support. Without them and the support system they gave me, body posi never would’ve affected me the way it did. I’ve come so far since crying over my thighs, but I still have not completely perfected it. Some days I sob whenever I think about myself, and some days I spend hours in the mirror just admiring how amazing I look. I’ve come to love my stretch marks and stomach, even if I suck it in most times. I’ve come to recognize what makes me who I am, and what I want to change about myself.
I want everyone reading this to know that body positivity is for everyone, regardless of gender or race or size. Body positivity is meant to lift everyone up, and help us lift others up. It is not about changing yourself, but about changing the way you think about yourself.