How The Body Positivity Movement Changed My Life
I’ve always been overweight. That’s just a fact. I am not one of those slim-as-a-child women who is plus sized now. And I’ve been on a diet pretty much since my early teens.
I’m not going to BS you and say I always loved my body. I didn’t. Growing up seeing slim figures be celebrated in the media definitely affected me mentally. I wanted to be slim. I was never an unpopular kid but I always felt “less than” because I was chubbier than most of my classmates.
In college I gained weight because I took so many classes per semester that my life became sedentary. Then law school came and I was moving even less! The stress took an extra toll on my body and I simply kept gaining weight.
I’ve been on dozens of diets. I’ve gained and lost weight. And at all times I felt insecure, ashamed, and different. But I wasn’t different. I was like hundreds of women around the country—nay, around the world—feeling insecure with my body at whatever size I reached.
Fashionable and good looking clothes were impossibly difficult to find as a plus sized woman. I’m not saying they were impossible to find, just very difficult. And if you did find something nice, it was usually expensive. Or black. Black is not my favorite color. Blue is. Red is. Purple is. But I learned to love black because usually the clothes in that color were better looking than what was on the market in other hues. And through it all, all I wanted to do was lose weight. I didn’t put myself out there to date for longer than I care to admit because I was just SO self-conscious. For a person who obsesses over perfection in my work, it isn’t easy to be anything but what is considered the norm. Even though the “norm” is a blatant lie.
Then Ashley Graham and the Body Positivity Movement came and turned my world upside down. Suddenly there were people telling their stories and showing their beautiful figures. And I realized that I wasn’t different from others. There were plenty of people, male and female, who were plus sized. I was like so many other people in the world. But don’t take the message of the #BodyPositivity movement wrong. It doesn’t just celebrate plus sized men and women, it celebrates every body and everybody.
There is a difference between “every body” and “everybody” and I am intentionally using both above. “Everybody” means “everyone” and that’s exactly what the movement does, celebrate every individual on Earth (maybe even those off-Earth). “Every body” means every body type out there—slim, straight sized, plus sized, apple shaped, hourglass shaped, pear shaped, upside down pear shaped, kiwi shaped—every body type.
The Body Positivity Movement is now two years old. In that amount of time I’ve come to love myself and my body at whatever shape I’m at. Beautiful, trendy, fashionable, classy, and affordable clothes for plus sized women and men are easier to find. I now wear Vince Camuto, City Chic, Calvin Klein, BooHoo, Eloquii, Lucky Jeans, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and so many others on a daily basis because beautiful clothes are so much easier to find! I list clothing brands because there is so much more choice now as more brands are embracing the movement.
There are women all over Instagram, YouTube, and some fashion magazines who look like me. I watch clothing hauls on YouTube while I do the dishes. I shop online while I’m waiting for the subway. I try on clothes in stores that didn’t cater to my size before. I’m happier with myself and my body because my mentality has changed. Do I still want to lose a little weight? Sure, everybody does! But I want to lose a few pounds so that I can avoid diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension—all of which I’m genetically predisposed to. I want to become fit enough to make the trek up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a dream of mine since I was 15.
Note that I didn’t say I want to become a size 6 for either of the above to happen. No, my goals are very specifically related to maintaining my health by avoiding health problems I may develop in the next few years and to being able to make a 26-mile-over-4-days-and-8000-foot climb up a mountain in Peru in under a year (I want to reach Machu Picchu on my birthday on June 3—the day I turn 35, making my two-decade dream come true).
I am currently a size 16/18 and have more confidence in myself and my body—and more love for myself—than I did when I was a size 10 in college, a size 14 in law school, or a size 12 when I started my legal career.