I'm not very easily moved by inspirational memes, so you normally won't find me doling out quotes or song lyrics on social media. Still, I do have a few of my own body positive truths that I live by, despite the fact that I've vowed to never superimpose those words over an image of the setting sun or countryside stream at dusk.
The thing about inspirational statements is that oftentimes they can feel mired in hyperbole. While that kind of approach is definitely useful and powerful for many people, my radar for corniness and schlock is simply too strong. If I'm being honest, I'll admit that I'm just far too cynical.
That's why when it comes to body positivity, I've had to come up with my own personal affirmations for how I want to practice it and be a part of the movement. Mine tend to leave emotion to the door. In a way, the statements I repeat to myself about body positivity each day are more rooted more in fact than awe-inspiring quotables. Here are nine of my favorite body posi statements to live by, for all of the crabby cynics and hopeful participants of self love who can relate.
1. Purchases Are Not Positivity
As of late, a new body positive brand seems to surface on the daily. Unfortunately, sometimes these brands come across as trying to co-opt notions of body positivity. While fashion and beauty can definitely be powerful tools of self expression, the idea that you can find empowerment in a well-fitting shift dress is arguably problematic at its core. Capitalistic endeavors are usually disempowering, and it's important that we can also pull strength and good feelings towards our bodies from more than just things with a dollar sign attached to them.
2. Just Because I Don't Agree Doesn't Mean I Don't Care
The body positive community can be a divisive one. When being critical of aspects of the movement in the past, I've found that my words get reduced to being a "hater" or a "source of negativity." However, the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of issues within the world of body positivity. Like all marginalized groups, our politics and ideologies are all unique. If you disagree with what someone says, that's fine: But if they're fighting for the same cause you are, try to at least find the value in their words.
3. Fatness And Fitness Are Not Failure
Body positivity is for everyone: Fat, thin, and everything in between. A fat person can love their body just as much and as hard as a thin person (and self-loathing works both ways, too). It's also important to stay open minded when people are trying to change their bodies. Just because someone is losing weight intentionally doesn't mean they aren't practicing body positivity. And just because someone is plus size themselves doesn't mean they are.
4. My Body Positivity Is Like No One Else's
We are all on completely separate journeys, so there is no way to fully understand anyone's other than your own. Sometimes I get pissed when I see someone saying something problematic or insensitive about their own body. However, it usually just means that they're coming from a completely different place than I am. There's nothing wrong with that.
5. Jump First, Ask Questions Later
This was important for me at the beginning: You can't really ask yourself a bunch of questions about what it might be like or how difficult it will be to self-actualize and self-love. You also can't make plans like, "When I do X, Y, Z, then I'll start to love myself." Decide you're going to do it, and just go for it whole-heartedly.
6. If I Hate My Body Right Now, I Won't Forever
I'm a self described "body positive blogger/essayist," and some days, my body makes me want to scream. I look in the mirror and see nothing but hot garbage, and I blame myself for letting it "get this way." I used to be embarrassed to admit that. After all, shouldn't we stay positive all the time? Here's some insight: No one is positive all the time and sometimes you body is a total dick. When that happens, just remind yourself that the feeling won't last forever.
7. Loving Your Body Isn't Easy
Women are coming at body positivity after literal decades of oppression, marginalization, and being told that we aren't good enough. That being said, this is no walk in the park (and that's after plenty of people before us have done the work and made loads of progress). Loving yourself and feeling good about your body are really, really hard things to do. So go easy on yourself while you're trying.
8. Make Room For Others To Love Their Bodies
Though I haven't always been perfectly gracious about it, the truth is that I'm incredibly privileged. I'm white, able-bodied, and I have a platform. That means that a lot of perks come with my approach to body positivity. If you're coming to body positivity from a place of privilege, it's important to make room for those who aren't: WOC, the disabled, queer folks, and those without access or time to find a hashtag to hold onto.
9. Loving Your Body Is Kind Of Hilarious
You can't run away from it, and you certainly can't pretend it's not there. Even in the depths of self loathing and despair, your body is there for you, reminding you, "Hello, sad clown. I am here to both haunt and serve you." When I'm feeling extra low, I take comfort in the humor of that. Hate it or love it, your body is not going anywhere. You might as well try to figure out how to coexist peacefully, and laugh about it along the way.
Images: Amanda Richards