A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Love and Body Positivity
Disclaimer: I am a smaller fat (16–18) and so I carry a degree of privilege in the sense of people accepting me and my body and being able to buy clothes in certain stores. I recognize this privilege and know that my tips about buying clothes will not be attainable to everyone. I am speaking from my experience, and so if something does not apply to you, my apologies. I still hope you take something away from this piece. Love, Jude.
So you’ve decided that you’re tired of hating your body because society is telling you to, or you’ve finally woken up and realized that diet culture is bullshit, OR you’ve come around to realize that being skinny does not equal being healthy but you’re unsure about how to go about undoing the brainwashing that the dieting industry pays millions of dollars for — no matter how you got to me, welcome.
My name is Jude and I have been making body positive content on the internet for a number of years now and I’ve been where you are, so here I am, sharing my knowledge with all of you.
Put your worth in something other than what society’s perception of beauty is aka thinness. You are not on this planet to lose weight. You are not on this planet to cater to a westernized ideal of beauty. You are not on this planet to make your body do what it is naturally just going against. Some people are naturally fat, some people are naturally thin, and that shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is.
Having your worth be in a place that is not your physical self helps you with self-love because there are so many other things that are important! For example, I put my worth in my ambition and my platforms and my relationships. That is where I find out who I am. (I mean, I’m also really fucking cute, but that’s not where my worth is lying at the end of the day.)
Curate your feeds. Change your mindset. The reason why we’re so willing to accept thinness as the ideal is because it is what we see the most often. The more you are exposed to something, the more it is normalized. Fat bodies are not in the media as much as they should be, and therefore they are not normalized. The idealization of the perfect body, the thin body, carries over to social media as we see celebrities who are buddy buddy with the diet culture system that is literally destroying us but that is another article for another time. So here is what you do: follow bodies that look like yours. Curate your feeds to your reality — follow fat people, black people, queer people, disabled people, make your feed as diverse as you want it because that is the value of social media — you get to pick what you see or you don’t see.
Having this influx of media of bodies that is similar to yours helps your self-love because you’re able to see beauty in other people, which in turn helps you see it within yourself. I remember watching people wearing crop tops and loving it on them, so I went out and bought fucking crop tops, and then people saw me wearing crop tops and went out and bought crop tops, it’s the circle of life that never really stops giving.
Some of the people that I followed were Meghan Tonjes, FatGirlFlow, Kristin Chirico, and so many others. Having their content on my feed truly allowed me to thrive outside of diet culture. Find creators who aren’t talking about their weight loss journey.
selfies. selfies. selfies. SELFIES. Okay hear me out, selfies changed my life and my relationship to my body. You know what I touched on earlier about the normalization of thin bodies in media, I was doing that for myself but with my own body. By taking selfies from all angles and in all lighting, I knew what I looked like and it wasn’t a surprise. As someone who has battled with an ED and Body Dysmorphic, this practice was especially healing for me. Allowing myself to be in the discomfort of not loving my body quite yet but feeling the progress was so monumental for me. So take selfies. Make your friends take pictures of you, candids of you, videos of you. Get used to seeing your face and not just in the mirror with layers of makeup on. You deserve to live a life where you’re not anxious about your appearance 24/7. You deserve that.
Stop keeping clothes that don’t fit you. I think the biggest milestone for me was throwing away clothes that I knew I would no longer fit in. I had size 12 pants and dresses lying around from when I lost weight in high school and I kept telling myself that I would fit into them, but my body kept telling me otherwise. Donating those clothes was one of the most liberating things that I could do. I know there are a bunch of plus-sized retailers that sell clothes for affordable and lots of thrift shops have a plus-sized section now. You don’t have to wear clothes you’re uncomfortable in. Amazon even sells plus sized clothes now! I got a skirt from there for $20 and it had pockets and an elastic waistband, but yes. Stop keeping clothes for “motivation” and love yourself where you’re at. It’s a process, it’s a struggle, but I promise you that that energy is better used elsewhere.
Recognize when you are falling into diet culture spirals, and treat yourself with kindness. Until you get used to the idea that food has no morality and that you shouldn’t feel guilty for eating certain foods, I invite you to treat yourself with the most empathy. Food has no moral value, it does not ruin your character. Cheat days don’t exist. If you wouldn’t speak to your younger self that way, don’t do it to your adult self. You are not an awful person for eating pizza instead of a salad. Just eat the damn cake, life is too short. You are allowed to eat things that bring you joy. Your body has you, you just need to trust that it does. Our ancestors did just fine without flat tummy teas.
Above all else, make sure that you are doing what’s right for your body. Do not put your body or mind in distress in order to please other people or to appease society’s expectations of beauty. You know your body better than anyone, and you know how to take care of it. Eat when you’re hungry. Sleep when you’re tired (pls.) Move if you feel like it, but don’t do these things because someone else is telling you to.