Many of us have complete respect and love for our grandmothers, but they can teach us more than just how to love without bounds, give the best peppermint-smelling hugs, or how to make a killer bundt cake. In addition to that goodness, we can learn from our grandmas all about body positivity. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. These women have gone through decades and decades of life, experiences, lessons, and realizations. They've moved through shifting beauty standards, changing styles, recycled and remade trends, and all sorts of fashion laws and ideals. And through it all, they were able to form their own opinions regarding what it means to be beautiful, what you need to spend your time worrying about, and what's superficial versus what sticks around.
Because of that, they're the ideal body positivity inspirations. They often wear whatever they want when they want (my grandma can't be the only one to rock a housecoat and Victorian nightgown to Thanksgiving dinner), see beauty past a body shape or silhouette, and embrace all the changes and shifts their body has experienced throughout their long and beautiful lives. If you ask me, there isn't anyone more qualified to teach you about beauty and positivity than your nana. Granted everyone's is different, but below are 11 things we can often learn from our grandmas about body positivity, from flicking away fashion rules to embracing change.
1. You Can Pull Off Any Damn Style That You Want
You know how you worry about showing your tummy in a crop top, or how you're too short for a maxi dress, or how you probably can't pull off high heels because you're too tall? Well, when you look to our mature counterparts, you get the sense that anything goes as long as you like it.
After decades of refining your style and tastes, it doesn't really matter what society thinks you should like or fill your closet with — it's all about what you enjoy. Whether that's high-waist bell bottom pants or a medley of necklaces and bangles á la Iris Apfel, put on any damn thing you please, no matter your body type or age.
2. It's OK To Embrace Your Changing Face
When you're young, any slight change in appearance can sometimes be cause for alarm: Yo-yoing by five pounds can cause existential crises, 20-somethings invest in wrinkle creams, and gray hairs are mourned over. But one thing we can learn from our grandmothers is that it's OK to embrace — and love — a changing face.
Those changes represent years lived and enjoyed, laughs bubbled and worries gnawed over, and they show the wear and tear of life. It's romantic and beautiful, and it should be celebrated rather than fussed over. So stop fussing.
3. Just Because Your Body Changes, Doesn't Mean You Change
How many times have you linked your self worth to your bathroom scale? How many times did you believe you'd be happier if only you were a different size, or you'd be more worthy of happiness and success if only you were smaller?
One thing our grandmothers sometimes show us is that just because your body changes doesn't mean you change. The bulk of them are still the same sassy, strong, determined women they were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Just because your body changes (either because of age or because of pounds) doesn't mean your personality or lot in life will. You'll be as happy and driven as you allow yourself to be.
4. You're Allowed To Embrace Your Natural Hair Texture
When you see a woman embracing her gray or silvery white hair with elegance and total nonchalance, it might make you want to embrace your own hair texture. Whether you have wildly curly hair, thin long strands, pixie cuts, or tight curls, seeing a woman embrace her natural hair can inspire you to do the same.
5. Your Body Will Get A Little Weathered, But That's Because Of Life
How many hours have you spent in front of the mirror wishing your stretch marks weren't there, or wondering how you'd look without freckles, or how much better you'd feel sans cellulite or those funny little crows feet by your eyes? Our grandmothers teach us that our bodies are meant to get weathered, because living life takes a toll on them. How many times have you looked at your grandmother and thought "ugly?" Probably never. You see her wrinkles, her gray hair, her papery skin and see decades worth of stories, love, and adventures in each one of those characteristics.
6. The Only Person That Needs To Believe You're Fabulous Is You
Society's opinions and rules can take a big toll on a lot of people, which is why a lot of us feel ashamed when our tummy rolls poke out over the waist of our jeans or feel a little too intimidated to try on a trend that goes completely against the so-called rules for our body types. But have you seen grandmothers care about rules and Vogue laws in that same manner?
Nah, girl. They embrace the housecoat, the sheer lace dress, the stacked beaded necklaces, the head wraps — whatever strikes their fancy. Because if it's one thing older women know, it's that the only person that needs to believe that you're fabulous is yourself.
7. Feeling Beautiful Is A State Of Mind
Beauty isn't as limited as a decade's standards and perceptions. Rather, it's a state of mind, where you look at your history, your heart, your personality as a whole and love what you see. If older women bought into the beauty standard that says you lose your worth by 29, then we wouldn't have the women we admire today.
8. You're Never Too Old/Too Fat/Too Bony/ Etc. To Feel Sexy
Our nanas can often teach us that we're never "too" anything to be sexy. With age comes confidence and an eye-roll type of mentality for societal rules, which is where the confidence to rock what you want when you want comes in. You're never too fat, old, bony, or anything else to put on a short dress, a sheer top, a sexy anything. Wear the mood you're in, and enjoy it.
9. You're Never Too Old To Try A New Trend
There are a lot of rules that circle women, and a lot of them have to do with what's appropriate to wear when and at what age. But one thing our grandmas can show us is that we're never too old to try a new trend. We're never too anything to try a new trend. Express yourself the way you want to, no matter what other people think.
10. You Don't Have To Compete With Other Women
How hard is it to love the body you have when other women poke fun and laugh at it? How easy is it to embrace the person you are, when others try to tear you down? After spending dozens and dozens of calendars on this planet, most grandmothers will be able to tell you that the key to happiness is building people up rather than tearing them down. It's important to support each other and not butt into another person's business or choices, but rather support them and their happiness. You'll receive the same type of treatment in return, and likely be grateful for it.
11. Your Body Is There To Help You Live An Awesome Life, Not To Hold You Back
The older you get, the more thankful you probably are for your functioning body. And that's what a body is for: To help you live the life you want, not to fill out a pair of jeans the correct way. It helps you adventure, travel, run errands, love your family, see the world — it's not solely there to look good in a dress or pull off the latest fashion trend. And that's a beautiful lesson to learn: That your body is there to help you enjoy life, to be used and appreciated and experimented with, and not just molded into a certain image. How much more beautiful will you feel looking into the mirror knowing that those thighs and shoulders and tummy have a higher purpose?
So whether it's embracing your curves, not caring about other people's opinions, or accepting the changes that happen to your body, grandmothers are definitely body positivity champions to look up to.
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