Brittany is fat. If you think that sentence is harsh, mean, or slanderous, then it's time you talk to Brittany Gibbons, blogging sensation and body-acceptance activist. Gibbons walks the walk: she stripped to a bikini during a TED talk and flaunted a two-piece on TV (more than once!). Most recently, she's the author of Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin ... Every Inch of It , a LOL-funny memoir that is utterly paradigm-shifting.
Paradigm-shifting? According to Gibbons, there's nothing harsh about "Brittany is fat," because she wants her readers to own their bodies, no matter what they look like. She wants us — women especially — to stop thinking of fat as lesser or somehow bad (an aim that has solid science behind it, according to Harriet Brown in Body of Truth ).
Is owning your jean size easy? Not always. Most of us have feelings about our bodies that long predate our first boy-girl party. Gibbons remembers learning she was fat when she was 8 years old: a couple of random boys stopped her while she was walking with friends. One of these kids asked if the girls had boyfriends, and when Gibbons responded no, the boy told her, "'Well yeah, because you're fat.'"
Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin ... Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons, $8.69, Amazon
Gibbons' world changed. "In that moment, every part of my body felt different. I became acutely aware that the shorts I was wearing had ridden up between my thighs ... Suddenly, something had been put out into the universe, and there was no takes-backsies ... That's totally what happened when I found out that ducks pee, poop, and have sex all in one hole ... It's also exactly what being told I was fat felt like."
OK, first eff that twerpy boy. But second, thankfully Gibbons used her experiences to become a completely awesome Internet sensation, a game-changer for women everywhere. Gibbons wants women to stop hating on their curves (or lack thereof) and love their bodies for what they are: perfectly imperfect.
Here are six ways Gibbons can help you work it with what you've got:
Be Honest With Yourself
"I was fat because it was really easy for me to be fat," Gibbons writes. That acknowledgement — about what your body is and why it is that way — is a super-important step toward being confident in your own skin. Gibbons remembers her childhood self, already heavier than other kids: "Fat was a normal body shape for me, and after seeing my parents in their underwear, I knew thin was just not going to be in the cards."
Prioritize — And Know What You Want...
...what you really, really want — once you abandon body shaming and start believing in body promoting. Gibbons wanted "to own [her] body and the words about it." She wanted to "learn how to be a grown-up." You might want a whole slew of things from changing your attitude because the feelings you have about your body are more complicated than the number on the scale or the image in the mirror.
Understand What Role Your Body Hate Is Playing In Your Life — And Then Take Charge
"Of all the hobbies I have picked up and dropped over the years — the fiddle, magic, competitive eating – body hate has been my most dedicated and refined," writes Gibbons.
But having a daughter, a young girl who looks up to her mother, stops Gibbons in her pursuit of self-loathing. "The way [my daughter would] linger in the bathroom to watch my nighttime routine, or stand in my closet as I picked out dresses for a night out ... she would listen to me, wide-eyed, soaking it all in ... One afternoon I watched her put on a fancy princess dress ... and walk to the mirror, frown, and touch her stomach in a way that brought me to my knees."
Gibbons doesn't want to be "the woman ruining [her daughter's] life." She knows why she has to change her attitude about her own body — and she gets down to business.
Surround Yourself With People That Make You Feel Good
For Gibbons, that's her husband and her family — and the legion of bod-pos acolytes she cultivated through blogging and her Facebook group, The Curvy Girl Community. Don't be afraid to find your people: if you can't find them, build a place for them!
Change the Record and Be Part of an Enlightened Conversation
Here's what Gibbons did: "I denounced body shaming. I promoted loving your body, just as you were. I challenged fashion companies to step up to the plate and provide us with stylish options and realistic models. I grabbed my bathing suits and skinny jeans and talked about fashion that worked for my body. And I started taking my clothes off every chance I got ... The more people saw me, the more normal my body became to them."
Owning your body means owning your friends' and your mom's and your sisters' bodies. It means living confidently, regardless of what size you wear. And it means getting stronger. Just listen to Gibbons, whose quest for a better conversation about women's bodies made her unstoppable: "My self-esteem was made bulletproof, and as a result, I'd become fearless."