As my teenage metabolism has subsided and I've become best friends with my takeaway delivery drivers, I've gained weight. Funnily enough, gaining weight while being body positive was easy enough for me, at first. In fact, the self-love movement has helped me massively — both through my active participation and keen observation — with my own personal politics when it comes to how I perceive my body. But as of late, I've gained more weight in a short space of time, and I'm struggling.
I'm not struggling because of my body itself, but because of my wardrobe. No, it's not because my clothes highlight my weight gain. But rather, because my clothes simply don't fit.
I pride myself on my personal style. It's not to everyone's taste, and that's the best part. I'm a chronic over-dresser and I love it. But now I'm banished to the part of my wardrobe that's all stretchy skirts and crop tops because of their elasticity. Both can still make for a pretty body positive outfit, by some standards. But that's just not me. Not anymore. And I don't have the budget to buy a new satin jumpsuit, new sequin skirts, new everything.
Because of how directly my style is connected to my self expression — even to my mood and my feelings — I'm finding my old self-hating thoughts creeping into my consciousness again.
It's funny, because I know that what I'm thinking and feeling isn't right. I write about body positivity almost daily. I've had numerous people congratulate me on my POV. I know that my negative feelings about my body and myself are unfounded; but still, I feel them. And it's almost embarrassing to admit that this self love-preaching lady is struggling. All over a few zippers that won't close anymore.
Some might think the obvious answer is to lose weight. It's an answer that I used to apply to all questions in life. I'd be prettier if I lost weight, I told myself. I'd be more fun. People would like me more. I'd get a boyfriend. I'd be happy.
But that's not true. And more importantly, it's not fair to myself. Hanging my hopes on losing weight led to more distress than teenage me could handle. I know if I fall back into that mindset, I'll only make myself feel worse. I know I'd fit in my clothes again through losing weight, but that weight loss wouldn't be enough. It would never be enough until I was calorie-counting and constantly filled with self hatred.
So what now? I seemingly have two options: Moving on or losing weight. And both would be emotionally taxing; the former because it'd mean sacrificing my outfits, and the latter because it'd mean questioning my relationship to my weight even further.
I've always placed my mental health over my physical health, so I can't pretend that wanting to lose weight is about a supposedly "healthy BMI" or blood pressure levels. It's simply about fitting into the clothes that have helped me become body positive. They are clothes that carry me through the side eyes and self doubt, making me not only feel body positive, but act body positive.
But my emotional connection to my clothing doesn't just come from me wanting to represent myself artistically and honestly, but from the confidence that clothing can instill in me. Even admitting that has been revolutionary. As body positive as I thought I was or portrayed myself to be before I lost out on my clothes, I realize now that I wasn't. My confidence hinged on outfits that I felt good in and without them, the struggle has raised questions of whether I can call myself body positive at all.
As much as it's been a hard — and even embarrassing — thing to admit that I don't love myself the way I wish I did, I know it's going to benefit me much more in the long run. I became too comfortable labeling myself body positive when I wasn't embodying the full meaning of the term. I stopped pushing myself, stopped analyzing my thoughts, stopped fighting for personal body positivity because I already saw myself as being body positive.
What I'm trying to allow myself is my imperfections, though. Not just the physical ones, but mental ones. I'm allowed to have off days. I'm allowed to wish I was thin sometimes. I'm allowed to struggle because without that struggle, would I even be succeeding?
Body positivity is a movement and a message, but I'm a person. I'm a person who has achieved so much, a person who has a long way left to go, but still, a person who faces it with anticipation instead of a blissful pretense that what I've done so far is enough.
Want more body positivity? Check out the playlist below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle's YouTube page for more inspo!
Images: Georgina Jones