On Body Image and Radical Self Love

Thoughts on Body Positivity.

NOTE from 2021: When I noticed my blog was getting hacked in February of 2020 I did some quick fixes and somehow all of my draft posts from the previous 16 years ended up assigned to that month. This is one of those posts. I used the context to “guess” when I actually wrote it so if anything about this publication date seems off to future me…I wanted this note here to explain possible errors.

The initial wave of Feminism had women demanding that they not be expected to be Stay At Home Moms. Women want to work too! Have careers! Be more than domestic goddesses! And then, about 15 years ago, women who WANTED to be Stay At Home Moms/Domestic Goddesses started feeling conflicted. Is it wrong to not want a career other than raising a family? So the next decade, Feminists had to come out and remind women that doing what they wanted and not because society expected it of them was still Feminism?

I think about those women who wanted to be Stay At Home Moms back before there was vocal support for that decision…I think about them a lot. Did they doubt themselves? Did they question, “Do I want this because I want this, or do I want this because society makes me think it’s the right thing for a woman to do?”

Why do I think about them?

(Because no part of me wants to be a Stay At Home Mom. I tried it for awhile and sucked royally at it.)

Well…I think about it a lot as it relates to the body positive movement.

And how that relates to me.

Stay with me because I really would like to hear your thoughts.

Body Positivity started out with the rallying cry for women to stop trying to hold themselves to an unrealistic standards set by Hollywood and the advertising industry. Instead of struggled to be Model Thin or Actress Perfect, we should love our body! Strive for health! Maybe strength! Maybe happiness! Love your body!

And with it has come tones of inspirational videos and marketing campaigns. Write-ups about “brave” women in bikinis and about how we need to love our bodies to raise a generation of women who learn to value more than the number on the scale.

And I am behind all of that 1 million percent.

But, here’s the thing.

I’ve put on 17lbs in the last 6’ish months. 17lbs I had worked kinda hard to lose. I know why. I was struggling with an rebirth of grief over losing my Dad. I’ve had an assortment of minor running injuries. I was stressed over selling our house. My professional life changed. The only therapists covered by my insurance to help Wes with his anger management went bankrupt. All of those things contributed to me stress eating and gaining weight and now I’m really struggling to lose it again.

And now I’m wondering…is that okay? Am I allowed to still want to be thinner? To lose weight? Is it okay if I don’t want to love this body? Or am I feeding into this misogynistic and impossible standard of beauty that society plasters on every screen in sight?

I go back and forth on this. If I want to be part of the Body Positive movement, I should love this body, right? Because I don’t love it. I have never minded my stretch marks at all. When I was thin I wore a bikini proudly and never flinched about the weird skin or stretch marks. But this extra weight? No thank you. I hate it. Every day.

And…what about makeup? I don’t wear makeup. Now that I have an office job I do try to wear mascara, but not often. And I still don’t really care for it. What about women who can’t leave the house without a full face on? Is it okay to still want to change something about your appearance just because you feel like you look better that way? Is there a difference between wanting to wear makeup or dye your hair and wanting to lose weight? Is it okay to need a manicure and hair dye and makeup as long as you love your body? Because I have no problem looking in the mirror without makeup or hair dye or nail polish. But I hate looking in the mirror with this extra weight on me.

I’m seriously wondering. Is me wanting to lose weight to get back to X number on the scale…is that a sign society still has a hold on me and I need to learn to let go of that? Or am I a woman in 1995 really wanting to be a Stay At Home Mom but worried that makes her anti-feminism. Is wanting to lose weight anti-Body Positivity? I keep telling myself I’m still “Body Positive” because I do love my body in many ways. Magazines tell me I should manicure my eyebrows. Facebook statuses remind me that everyone hates people with ugly feet who wear sandals in the summer. Ninety million commercials tell me I need to reverse signs of aging. And I don’t care about any of that. I don’t stress about my wrinkles, or my eyebrows (too much). And I dare you tell me to my face not to wear sandals and then I’ll tell you that my feet are ugly because I run through the woods for miles on end and that’s the side effect and I’m kinda proud of my ugly feet.

But this weight. This weight I want gone. I hate it. I hate my body in it. I hate all of my clothes that don’t fit anymore. I hate my bras don’t fit. I flesh in places there wasn’t flesh before. I want it gone.

Can you be Body Positive and still want to be skinnier? Am I only Body Positive if I don’t step on the scale ever again and if I love this body no matter what the size? Do I need to work on loving my body or is it okay to be counting calories?

What are you thoughts?

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