"I like to think that body positivity's intention is really body acceptance. The idea that you can live comfortably in your body, as is right now, or work on treating it right through nourishment and joyful movement and self care without punishing yourself or looking the way you do."
-Kaila Prins, BoPo Wellness Coach and Burlesque Teacher
The BoPo Movement & What it Did for Me
The Body Positivity Movement is a movement and community of individuals that tell you it’s okay to love yourself as you are. It promotes acceptance of your body and other bodies, regardless of size, shape, or weight.
I’ll never forget the day I noticed that my body was different from the other bodies that surrounded me. I was nine years old and taking dance classes. I loved dance. I had limited rhythm and could barely keep up with the choreography, but it made me happy. I was in a few classes with my best friend and we had a blast. The time came for us to get fitted for our costumes. As we were getting fitted, everyone was having a grand old time. We were jumping around and thinking about the recital that would ensue. I was thrilled.
As I was moving up in the line to get fitted, I noticed one of my teachers taking my classmates’ measurements and other taking note of the sizes we would need. Miss Amy was circling sizes that were close to the top of the size section. When it was my turn, I walked up and Miss Courtney gave the measuring tape a bit more slack than it seemed the other girls needed and when she was finished, Miss Amy circled “XL” which was at the bottom of the size section. I asked what she circled and she said, with little emotion, “Extra-large,” and moved me along.
“Extra-large?” I thought to myself. “Am I really EXTRA large?” While the rest of my classmates were being measured, I began examining myself in the mirrors that filled the room, from every direction. I had never felt insecure or uncomfortable in my leotard and stockings until this point. Of course, I had clothing with tags that said my size. But, the size of my body hadn’t been defined in this way before.
I never made it to the recital. I sprained my ankle and used that as an excuse to never look at my body in a leotard, next to others who looked so different from me, again. I refused to return.
This was the very beginning of my body image issues. I was teased for being chubby all throughout school, I could never find clothes that fit me the way I wanted to and at 15 years old I developed a serious eating disorder.
Ten years after my experience in dance, I learned about the BoPo Movement as I was killing myself in the gym trying to attain a body I was never going to achieve. I was constantly searching for new ways to cut my calorie intake and how to reduce excess skin from weight loss. I set out on a weight loss journey, lost 60 pounds and realized I still didn’t like the way I looked. I felt better with a little less weight and new healthy habits, but I didn’t feel good about the way I looked. I still had trouble looking in the mirror. Everything was wrong.
During this time, I was trying to get myself out there related to my weight loss. I was so proud, and anyone who feels good about [changing] their body should be. I don’t know how, but in one of my searches, I came across Tess Holiday. Tess Holiday is a tatted, (size 26) plus-size model. She is all about BoPo and body-acceptance. She is an all-around queen. I was looking at pictures of her in awe. She had arms like mine! And a belly! A real belly, one I could identify with. She looked more like me than anyone else I had seen in the media. She was rocking lingerie and sexy dresses, looking and feeling beautiful. I was shook, ok.
The more I looked into the BoPo Movement, the more inspired I was. I was shocked that there was a group of people telling me that I did NOT have to change my body. I grew up with doctors telling me I was “too big,” and classmates calling me “fat” amongst other names. I had to shop in the Plus Size section of all the stores and dress like an old woman because stores weren’t making us little chunksters the same clothes as our smaller peers. There was never a time in my life before this point where I could look to anyone but myself for anything related bodies.
Since finding this community, I am the happiest with my body I have ever been. Even on days where I do not feel as fabulous as I know I am, I have a community of support. I can go on Instagram and search #bodypositivity and get all the encouragement I need. Books, articles, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – the BoPo resources are endless. Reach out, someone will be there to catch you.
(This is not a post discouraging weight loss or the development of healthy habits. I, myself, am trying to get back in the gym! Do what makes you feel good. This is just my experience.)
This page will host interviews and all things BoPo.
“I am fat and happy. Don’t force your ideals on me and my body, because I am doing just fine without your approval.” -Tess Holiday
Let Body Positivity Save You From Yourself
In 2015, I decided I would “get healthy,” and change my life. And I seemingly did. For 2 years, I worked out consistently and ate really well. I lost 60 pounds and gained so many new healthy habits. I was convinced I felt the best I ever had. All of that was fine and dandy until my depression hit me like a truck and I didn’t know how to cope. I hadn’t faced a true depression in so long. I was a recent graduate with 35k in debt, working a horrid job that was paying 22K a year and I had no plan. I reverted to my old habits and disordered eating. I would binge eat constantly, thus gain weight. I was gaining weight and punishing myself. I would binge and restrict, being and restrict. It was a nasty time for me.
At that time and throughout my weight loss journey, I was huge into the IG fitness community. I was so embarrassed by my weight gain and felt like I couldn’t talk about the weight gain to my friends, let alone on any of my social media platforms, because I had been so pro weight loss. I was always fat, there was no point where I reached a level that I would even be considered society’s “skinny.” But, I was terrified to gain that weight back. It was an awful thought because I was so publicly proud and open about my weight loss and I didn’t know how I was going to approach any of it. I was so worried about what others would think that I didn’t even bother with how I was feeling.
Let’s think about what we are told about fat bodies and how they are view. “Unhealthy,” “disgusting,” “unkempt.” I was working to never be any of that ever again. I worked so hard for so long to NOT be fat. I badly wanted to have a body like the bodies I had seen in mainstream media since I was young. I wanted to be viewed as fit and healthy because that is was has been promoted as good and right and what everyone thought was beautiful. I was working hard toward all of it and losing it at the same time.
Throughout my entire weight loss journey, I thought I was body positive. I used the hashtag on all my pictures and really, wholeheartedly thought I was a body positive person. I think to an extent I was, but I was not promoting body positivity in the light that is should be promoted. I was endorsing the idea that now that I have lost weight, I can look at my body in a positive way. The only reason I was body positive is because I has lost weight. That is not what this community is about. That is not what I want or wanted to be about. Body positivity says that you can and should love yourself in every stage of your metamorphosis. It says that your perceived fat body is great and so is the perceived skinny body next to you. So, when I really started looking into body positivity and when I started doing genuine research, that is when the body positivity movement saved me.
Seeing other women and men that had bodies like me in the public eye was revolutionary. Seeing them flaunt those bodies was more than that. Body positivity saved me from myself and my irrational thinking. It saved me from the, “You will be great when you lose another X pounds.” It saved me from the, “You haven’t lost enough weight to wear that, yet.” It took away the thoughts of, “You are the number on the scale and nothing more,” “Stop eating that, you have had enough.” It embedded, “You are worth it now, you were worth it then and you will always be worth it.” It busted my eardrums screaming, “You are perfect. Your stretchmarks, cellulite and jiggle are amazing.”
Where am I now? I have gained 40 of those 60 pounds back. At this point I have tried and failed at two “serious” weight loss journeys and I have never felt better. (More to come on the second failure). As a vegan, I eat what I want, when I want. I listen to my body and eat as many carbs as I want. I am happy with my jiggle and with myself. I am that I can promote true self-love. This has taken me 23 years, but I am 120% done punishing myself for living in this fat body happily.
While we are on the subject of my body, I just want to reiterate how glorious it is. It is the vehicle to my soul. It gets me where I need to go, and has helped me become who I want to be. YOUR body is just as glorious. Whether you’re a super fat babe like me, or naturally thin. Whether you are a body builder, dancer or chunky hoe. Although we are taught that we should be everchanging, that there is always something to improve regarding our physical appearances, love what you’ve got now. Do not make my mistakes. Love yourself before society’s voice takes over your own.
Be, and remain, magnificent.