In our personal quests toward body positivity, it can help to have those around us supporting our beliefs and encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight. Since you probably spend a huge chunk of time with your boo, it's pretty important to be on the lookout for signs that your partner is body positive. Odds are you care about your partner's opinion of you, which is totally normal. However, that partner's internalized beliefs about beauty, their familial upbringing, and their media consumption can sometimes cause them to express less than positive feedback about your body or the bodies of others. Whatever hangups they have about their own body can also shape the way they perceive and treat others.
I've been in a number of relationships in which my romantic partner's presence did nothing but weigh down my confidence, making me uncomfortable when it came to showing (and generally liking) many parts of my body when with them. Complaints about my body hair and long, unsexy stares at my wigglier bits sunk my self esteem to rock bottom levels. I feel incredibly lucky to have met my current partner, Skylar, who has always supported me in my body positive endeavors. Although loving my body is a one man battle, it feels amazing to have them on the sidelines, cheering me on every step of the way.
Ultimately, we as individuals are responsible for own happiness surrounding our bodies (and all areas of our lives). I personally think validation starts and ends inwardly, which is why the journey to loving our bodies is mostly a solo operation. But here are some things that I've noticed about Skylar and the partners of certain friends that I've found to indicate body positivity. Here are 13 of the signs.
1. They Are Comfortable With And Encourage Nudity
In past relationships, I didn't feel comfortable parading around in my birthday suit. Even after sex, I would immediately put my panties and bra back on before blissfully lying with my cutie. But Skylar, who is very comfortable parading around their own nude body, encouraged me to keep my clothes off post sex. Now I'm just as comfortable lounging around naked (including in any "unflattering" positions) with them as I am when I'm completely alone. If you can feel totally beautiful, sexy, and comfortable in your nakedness around your partner, that's a pretty great sign.
2. They Are Constantly Taking Photos Of You
OK, so Skylar takes a lot of photos of me. Like a lot. Even when I'm not looking and even though it embarrasses me, they take about a million iPhone pics of me per 24 hours. Skylar texts me some of their favorite shots and loves to scroll through them all with me, punctuating each photo with, "Look! It's Meg being cuuuuute." I pretend to be hugely annoyed by this, but it's pretty damn adorable. Seeing yourself through the eyes (or camera lens) of someone who thinks you're beautiful can do wonders for your self image.
3. No Part Of Your Body Goes Ignored
My partner gives equal loving attention to all parts of my body. It was previously pretty taboo for me to show my belly or have my belly touched by partners. Since I've embraced body positivity, however, I'm comfortable with my partner giving attention to my belly: Holding it, kissing it, and blowing raspberries onto it.
There shouldn't be any part of your body that you love in secret but feel you need to hide from your partner. If your partner is a body positive human, showing them parts of your body that were previously taboo should get easier by the day.
4. You Become Aware Of How Sexy You Look In Everything, All The Time
On my journey to loving my body, I've learned to eff "flattering" and wear what I love despite (and even because) the garment accentuating the "extra" skin around my middle. The admiring way in which Skylar looks at my body in anything I choose to wear has taught me that I don't have to dress a certain way to impress them. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe their compliments, but knowing firsthand the way I look at them — and that they look equally beautiful to me in whatever they wear — makes me snap out of my body negative head space and accept the praise.
5. They Don't Value Beauty Norms Or Body Standards
My fashion choices, tattoos, and flavor for wild lipstick colors are just a few of the many things that set me apart from societal beauty standards. However, these are the things that I love most about myself and unfortunately, characteristics I would downplay around others in the past. Skylar loves and embraces these things about me, and not necessarily out of aesthetic preference. Even if they weren't personally a fan of tattoos or thought this blue lipstick would look hideous on them, they support my choices when they see how confident and empowered these things make me feel.
6. They Don't Care About How You Choose To Maintain Your Body Hair
Before having sex in many of my past relationships, I would clean things up all over with a shave, despite my personal hatred for shaving and hairlessness. If your partner is body positive, they won't care whether or not you maintain your bikini line or whether you rub your fuzzy legs up against them in bed. My partner doesn't assert any kind of preferences over my body because it's my body. It's up to me what I do with it and how I maintain it.
7. They Like Helping You Explore Different Ways Of Dressing
Your partner should be supportive of changes you want to make to your style. As a genderqueer person, it was once difficult for me to be constantly performing femininity around my partners. However, Skylar supports all of my dressing decisions, whether I'm feeling feminine or masculine. They even help me shop in the men's department and piece together outfits from their own wardrobe. If they're body positive, they will look at you with admiration no matter what you're wearing.
8. They Help Snap You Out Of It When You're Feeling Body Negative
Whenever I'm having a bad day and begin bashing my body, they dismiss the conversation pretty quickly. They remind me how beautiful I am, and say it with such sincerity that I can easily transition back into my former state of blissful (albeit sometimes difficult) self love.
9. Your Insecurities Tend To Seem Unnecessary When You're Around Them
My partner makes me feel confident about parts of me I formerly felt insecure of, like my smile. Being in their presence for extended periods of time helps me re-learn what it means to be beautiful. Their reaction or lack thereof to my teeth makes me realize how silly it is to hide my smile, and how beautiful my face looks when I do smile. I don't think Skylar even knows how insecure I previously was about my teeth, but their loving and carefree attitude tends to end the body shaming conversation (be it internal or external) before it begins.
10. They Never Use Body Negative Language, Even When Referring To Others
If your partner makes fat shaming or generally body shaming comments about others, it's a super telltale sign of what they are capable of saying and thinking about your body and theirs. Plus, it's just plain unacceptable. I've never once witnessed my partner making a rude remark about another person's body in passing, nor has that ever been in the subject of any conversation we've ever had.
11. They Don't Use Body Negative Terms When Expressing Their Appreciation For Your Body
Skylar never tells me how skinny I am or that I'm so feminine. They are educated enough about body positivity that they know these things are not actually complimentary, and arguably perpetuate negative ideas about body image. Skylar values my body for exactly what is: Beautiful, cute, or whatever other neutral adjective they can come up with.
12. You Can Rant With Them About Body Negativity In The Media And The World At Large
My partner gets just as tight as I do when people say body negative things, and is totally on board with ignoring or calling people out who do perpetuate these ideas. Being partners in taking down body negative meanies is pretty fun.
13. You Don't Hold Back From Being Your Sparkling, Body Pos Self When You're With Them
You should never have to compromise your healthy self love around your partner. I love looking at myself in the mirror and, honestly, I think I'm pretty damn cute. They encourage me when I make body positive proclamations aloud (for example, "Damn, my shoulders are so adorable") with positive affirmations. And they don't hold back either. Similarly, I don't hesitate to be their cheerleader when they're praising their own body. I love this part of our relationship, and I think it's super valuable in encouraging self love within ourselves as well as in the love we share.
If you ask me, a couple that is body positive together stays together.
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Images: Meg Zulch; the_ladyjane/Instagram