Body positivity and the size acceptance movement have come a long way since their inception (especially in the past few years) thanks to the wonders of social media and a profoundly strong, supportive plus-size community. But the battle is far from over, and one of the most paramount issues we need to overcome on our journey towards body positivity is conditioned body shaming.
Most of us, whether you are a woman or a man, straight-size or plus-size, have all dealt with body image issues at some point in our lives. Undoubtedly, it's a struggle that has touched us all. But I will go on record to say that I truly believe people who are plus-size have dealt with the hardest, toughest blows when it comes to self esteem.
We've been told over and over again that the state of our bodies is "wrong," that we are ugly, undesirable, disgusting, lazy, and that all of this is our own fault. What's more, we are then shamed for this, taught that it's OK for people to troll us. And then — as though all of that weren't enough — we're told that we should hide away until we become what everyone else deems "acceptable," before we're allowed to love ourselves and display any sort of self confidence. It's ridiculous.
And so, we fight back. We fight against all those people who shamed us, who jumped on the brainwashed-body-train and threw rocks at our self esteem as we were left behind. The journey towards self-acceptance and body-love is a long, difficult road to travel and — let's be real — it can take some time to get there. And that's OK. Not everything worth having reaches us immediately, and when it comes to battling something that has been conditioned in us since, oh, I don't know, birth? Well, it's going to take some time.
But it's cool girl, you got this. The love you have for your body starts first and foremost with you, and before you can tackle and take on all the haters out there, you have to have a strong, solid base of strength and confidence within yourself. Easier said than done, right? Well, maybe. But it doesn't have to be that hard, really.
One of the most common places that plus-size women deal with the body shaming that we are conditioned to put ourselves through is dressing rooms. That's the one place we get down-and-personal with our bodies, having to face ourselves up close in the dreaded change room mirror. When we are shopping for clothes, our conditioned body shaming is manifested and most definitely at its zenith. So why don't we look at seven things plus-size women have probably thought of in the dressing room, and how we can re-condition ourselves to turn that body hate into body love?
1. "This isn't very slimming."
OK, so we've all been taught that the purpose of clothes is to hide our bodies and try and make us look as "slim" as possible. Wrong. The purpose of clothing, aside from preventing us all from walking around naked, is to express ourselves. Clothing is one of the many ways we get to show how we feel, who we are, and what our identities are. It has nothing to do with "magically" slimming us down, or any other silly hat-trick. Remember that the clothing you wear is meant to help express who you are, as it's the first thing that speaks for you when you're out in the great wide world.
2. "This doesn't hide my tummy."
Some people are predisposed to flat stomachs. Some people have to work out constantly to obtain one (and keep it). And the rest of us? We have bellies. Maybe you're plus size and have always had one, or maybe you've had some kids and now sport a mommy-tummy. The thing to remember is that having a belly is normal, and the sooner we all remember that, the better. That way, we can all stop obsessing over them.
Why is it we are happy to show off our plump, "fat" cleavage, but don't give the same consideration to our bellies? Tummies are natural, feminine, and honesty, they can be downright adorable. Embrace that belly, girl — it's part of you, it's adorable, and it's normal. It's not something that needs to be hidden anymore.
3. "I don't want to show my arms."
Arms. How scandalous. If you lived before the 19th century, perhaps. Yet we still feel the need to cover them up. Again, here's an example of how fat people are conditioned to feel that we have to "hide" every part of our bodies, including our arms. Arms! I have always had big arms, and at one point I was definitely one of those girls who couldn't wear anything sleeveless (and if I did wear something sleeveless, I needed to add a bolero, shrug, or cardigan over top to make sure that my arms were covered).
But one fateful summer, when the sun was blasting and I began to melt from the heat, I couldn't stand it any longer. My insecurity was no match for my physical discomfort, and so I gave up trying to hide my arms in sacrifice of my personal comfort. And you know what? It was like ripping off a band-aid. Once I embraced the freedom of exposing my fat arms, my world opened up and I was floating on a cloud.
Covered or not, your arms are going to be the size they are — so why not show off a little more skin? Arms are nothing to be ashamed of, so start breaking free from that embedded insecurity and embrace the world of sleeveless tops and dresses. You won't regret it, I promise.
4. "You can see my rolls!"
Again, we have the "Got fat? Then hide that," concept, which we've already established is quite outdated and just plain rubbish. Rolls are also something a lot of us have, and something our instincts tell us to hide. But our rolls, like our bellies and arms, are a part of our bodies, and a pretty common occurrence.
It's OK to have your rolls showing when you're in a bathing suit, or perhaps your side rolls show through the fabric of your top or dress. Who cares? When you're plus-size, the first step is to be smart about your body and realize how you're shaped. Your body is your body, and it's not going to change magically by putting on clothing. Look in the mirror, grab that roll of yours, and say, "I'm cool with you." Once you and your rolls are cool, you can move on to what matters most (which is the clothes, of course).
5. "These pants are too tight."
Unless you're wearing palazzo pants, jammies, or culottes, your pants should be on the tight side, no? That's the whole purpose of leggings, when you think about it! And errrybody loves leggings. Plus, the tighter the pants, the better your fine, fat ass will look. Just sayin'.
6. "It's so hot in here!"
It's not just you. We all get hot, steamy, sweaty, and just downright nasty in that tiny box of death. With its small space and bright lights, combined with the physical exertion from pulling on leggings or pulling off dresses, can you really expect anything less?
It can make things uncomfortable and frustrating when trying on clothes, but it's also a really common problem we all have. Don't sweat it — er, at least, don't sweat it on the inside.
7. "I'm just so FAT."
Great, so you've looked in the mirror, then! You are fat, yes — but you also could be short, or tall, or blond-haired, or tan, or any other word that might visually describe you. That's all "fat" is — a description. And you should give it the same weight you give to all your other physical attributes.
Fat can be a lovely thing! It has its own unique form of beauty, and it's not something you should see in a shameful light, but a celebratory one. Why? Because your body is no one's but yours, and only you know what you and your body have been through. So be proud of it. Instead of thinking, "Ugh, I'm so fat" (which is how conditioned society wants you to think), think about how great your unique body looks in that outfit. Your size doesn't matter, but the love and attitude you have towards your body do.
Images: khaleesidelrey/Instagram; Giphy