Body-Positive Is A Journey And Not A Decision

by Vanesa Pacheco

Body positivity (also known as “body-posi”) has quickly become today’s way of fighting against negative social standards. Instead of feeding into the idea on how every woman should strive to attain a particular look – be it with body structure, clothes, or even teeth – women are taking a stand and proclaiming how we are awesome just the way we are. We are breaking clothing rules, creating jewelry, and overall, finding a ton of ways to love ourselves.

I adore those women who look at themselves and feel proud at what they see. They are strong, beautiful, sexy, elegant, and hot by being themselves. And it’s wonderful that there are women who don’t back down to how they choose to live their lives; they keep it body-positive. However, reaching that mental state where we accept how amazing we are is no easy feat. I’m sure that some of those who speak on accepting themselves struggled with attaining their state of minds. Making the decision to love yourself is easy, but truly believing it takes some time. Although there are many ways to fight through the struggle of loving ourselves, it is ultimately a process that many of us will have to endure.

Yes, I like to believe that I am great in my 5'3, curvy frame. Sure, my curly frizz is voluminous and full of mysteries (like lost bobby pins) which frame my face gorgeously. And, of course, my thick thighs only emphasize the personal strength (both physically and emotionally) that I've found by working out for myself and not to look like someone else. But, in spite of all that, I'm still trudging along and fighting off my old, oppressive mentality.

This is the struggle.

When I began my body-posi journey, I was in full-swing. The first couple weeks were euphoric in the sense that, I was it. Finally. And no one was going to tell me otherwise. Yet, slowly, the passionate fire that sparked my self-acceptance began to dwindle down to a slow little flame. That's when the doubts crept back in. Had I really believed I was all that? Why had I not noticed my belly protruding out of my shirt that day? Couldn't someone have said something about my hair being wildly untamed? Certainly I thought I looked good before heading out the door, but today, I couldn't see it.

I adore those women who look at themselves and feel proud at what they see. They are strong, beautiful, sexy, elegant, and hot by being themselves.

That's when I began standing naked in front of the mirror. Facing my full-body reflection meant no escape from seeing everything. I was exposed. Completely. And I had to decide whether I liked what I saw or not. I was vulnerable to my own thoughts because no one else was going to be in the room with me when I was about to stare at myself like a weirdo. Some days, I would wake up and look at myself and think, yeah I can dig it, while other days I would just sigh heavily and turn away. But as the weeks went by, those "yeah I can dig it" days became more and more frequent.

Have my negative thoughts completely gone away? No. There are moments where I simply cannot and don't bother trying to accept myself. Entering the body-posi journey takes courage. Just like breaking any bad habit, the slow trudging through unknown grounds of body-positive thoughts and emotions is ironically scary. Yeah, I am learning to love and embrace who I am as a woman in today's society, but I am also trying to forget all the rules and regulations so forcefully encouraged everywhere I go. I am breaking down barriers that have become oddly comforting. So on those days where I don't fully admire my reflection, it is my brain ambling back to its old ways of thinking. And it's alright.

It's alright because I can remind myself that it's not alright. I've reached the point where I have come to understand my self-depreciating mentality was harmful and not entirely my fault. I know that, in the back of my mind, I'm fighting to love myself by accepting every so-called flaw until they are no longer seen as flaws. I am beautiful, strong, powerful, and have taken charge over my mental state. Maybe its obvious that the trek to loving myself would be this difficult, but I'm not alone.

So, here's to the struggle that some of us have faced or are facing now to achieve body-positivity. Here's to enduring the back-and-forth emotional roller coaster of rebelling against social standards and realizing that they can sometimes be ridiculous and make us hate ourselves when we only deserve love. We are all beautiful women, but personally believing that you are amazing and beautiful is the greatest feeling ever.

Images: "Vanesa Pacheco"/Melissa Hillner; "Clariza Prieto"/Jonathan Navarro; "Sherea DelSol"/Diamond Coleman Photography