No scribbled mirror quotes and daily affirmations can instantly undo years of media conditioning suggesting that regardless of my size or eyebrow fullness or whatever, I will never be "good enough." Though I can't go back and tell my younger self about body acceptance and love towards myself and others, there are five key things I'll teach my daughter about body positivity if I decide to have children far (far, far, far) down the line. I feel lucky to be part of the movement creating what will hopefully be a far more body pos and size inclusive world for the next generation. And, heck, I feel even more lucky watching the changes it's already making in fashion and mainstream media.
While I define body positivity as body acceptance and love toward myself and others, there are many other nuanced definitions out there. For further exploration and pegging down definitions, I recommend What Does Size Inclusivity Really Mean? written by Bustle's very own Associate Fashion & Beauty Editor Marie Southard Ospina.
Given the variety of meanings applied to body positivity and do's and don'ts of embracing it, I understand not everyone might agree with my seven thoughts below. I hope this article is a starting point for a broader discussion, and would love for you to reach out to me on Twitter (@RoseEatsPlants) and share what you would teach/are teaching your children about body positivity.
1. Your Self-Worth Does Not Come From Others
In a past life before graduating college, I was this acting kid on Disney Channel. Working as a professional actor in hollywood from 14 and onward meant I was bombarded every single day with exactly what was "wrong" with my body at auditions. My thighs were too big, my face was too scrunchy, my nose was too button-y. You name it.
The comments used to make me cry (and OK, sometimes still do), but you know what? I finally realized around 17, I may or may not be what a director has in mind for their project, but that doesn't mean anything is wrong with me.
Whether at an audition or scrolling through your IG, people's hurtful comments sting. They just do. But they don't define your self-worth or self-image unless you let them.
2. Shaming Others Doesn't Make You Feel Better
On the flip-side of not being defined by others' comments, tearing people down to feel better about yourself will never, ever work. Not fat-shaming means not thin-shaming either. Of course, sometimes you can unwittingly be anti-body pos. If you've unintentionally hurt someone's feelings, let them express why without getting defensive so you can learn from the experience.
3. Cultivate Body Gratitude
Regina Spektor has this song, "Folding Chair," with the most incredible line. It goes, "I've got a perfect body//But sometimes I forget//I've got a perfect body 'cause my eyelashes catch my sweat." Days where you feel insecure about yourself are inevitable. When you feel "ugly," stop and think about how miraculous your body is. Like maybe you have a pimple or feel bloated from a food baby or whatever but HELLO, your body is the most incredible living, breathing, organism. It can freaking create baby humans (not to mention have amazing orgasms), fight viruses, cool you down with sweat, kiss people, and basically all things being human entails. May your gratitude for your face always run deeper than its clogged pores.
4. You Are Not The Voices In Your Head
I don't know how much was Hollywood, my parents' divorce, or my genetic makeup, but I've accepted my struggle with eating disorder habits and destructive thoughts will be ongoing. What I've learned from coping with this is, if your life feels out of control, peace does not come from counting calories and feeling whole has nothing to do with mindlessly bingeing. If getting or repelling food has become your sole obsession that dictates everything else in your life, get help. Support is there and you are absolutely not a freak or alone in this battle.
5. It's OK To Want To Look "Good"
In Leandra Medine's first Man Repeller podcast, she talks about how you don't have to minimize your intellect to care about fashion and beauty. Makeup and clothes should be fun and you're allowed to be a body positive feminist and still enjoy them.
The key thing is, whatever you define as stylish and beautiful should be healthy for you and others to achieve. If your definition of beauty is too narrow to ever include yourself and all of the strangers you've walked by today, it's time to reevaluate your standards.
Image Credit: Author's Own (6)