The Importance of Body Positivity

It was the summer going into my Junior Year of high school. I had just recently returned from an extensive community service trip to Ecuador where all I did was hike, perform physical labor and eat a diet of what seemed to be reduced to rice and the few granola bars I managed to bring with me. As a young high school girl, naturally, I thought about how much weight I must have been losing, but to my dismay, when I landed back in America and stepped up on the scale, I learned that I actually gained weight. And, let me tell you, it felt like the end of the world. This was the moment that shattered the little confidence I had and, literally, changed my life.


Seems sudden, right? Well, when I think back on the previous year, I had become obsessed with working out and eating healthy. Normally, I was someone whose workout consisted of walking from class to class and playing volleyball in gym class once a week. So, in 10th grade when I began to workout, I lost some weight... and it feel good. Little did I know, in the back of my mind I was slowly developing an obsession; an obsession with losing weight. Although I will never fully know the root of my mental instability that led me to that one breaking point in the summer going into my Junior Year, I like to believe that this moment is when I became aware of it all. So, little by little I ate less and less and my clothes began to feel more and more loose, until, a little less than a month later, I decided to weigh myself again.  I stepped on that scale and I was ecstatic to see that I had lost 15 pounds. I’m pretty sure I even had a little celebratory dance in the bathroom by myself. Today, I can picture that moment in my head and all I want to do is go back in time and shake myself and realize what I was doing was so unhealthy. Anyway, I continued to eat the way I was eating and to think the way I was thinking with no care in the world. I didn’t realize what I was not only doing to my body, but my mind and my loved ones around me. My friends would constantly mention to me that I wasn’t eating anything, but it still didn’t register and I just continued on with my “lifestyle.” The sad thing is, I blocked my mind from letting myself see what was actually standing in the mirror: a normal-weight teenage girl.


This might sound unrealistic but, many suffering months later I began to realize that I laughed less and cried more, I had more bad days than I had good and overall, I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t want to feel like this anymore, so, with the support of my family and friends, I got help. Although it took me awhile, I can say, without a doubt, I am stronger, healthier and more positive about my body than I ever thought I could be.


Heading into Eating Disorder Awareness Week I want to emphasize that having a negative body image is something people of all genders and ages experience. However, you shouldn’t live your life feeling like some part of you is unhappy with how you look. It is important to love your body the way it is, instead of picturing it in a way you would rather it be.


Every day we are flooded with images of an idealized body on the cover of magazines, television screens and while scrolling through Instagram on our phones. We live in a world where it is a struggle to remain body positive, however, it is not impossible. To be body positive is simply loving your body, flaws and all, and accepting the fact that all bodies are different and special in their own way.  Trust me, I understand the difficulties that one encounters when trying to remain positive about their body. However, I am here to tell you it is possible and worth it. Happiness shouldn’t be determined by your weight and size, but your potentials and qualities that make you, you.


Not only do we live in a world with prominent forces promoting negative body image, we also live in a world with prominent movements for body positivity awareness. Body positivity is a popular topic that has taught us to learn how to love our bodies; that we are more than just our bodies; what our bodies are capable of; and so much more. This movement has created an open environment for people of all ages and genders to help each other instead of pulling each other down.


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