Body Positive Power

he 12th of each month is, by far, my favorite day of the month. Every month. It’s when we get our new credit for Audible – so I can listen to audio books on my commute as reading on a moving vehicle makes me sick. This month, as I was preparing to rush out the door, I picked up “Body Positive Power; because life is already happening and you don’t need flat abs to live it” by Megan Jayne Crabbe – bodyposipanda in Instagram.

I can’t remember how I found her, but I love the content on her page. She’s bright, always smiling, has some variation of pink and purple hair, and can move like you wouldn’t believe! She dons bikinis and plays upbeat music and jiggles her way into everyone’s heart! Well, most people’s. Like most “bopo influencers”, she has to deal with the arm chair warriors who feel the need to tell her that “she’s fat”. Like seeing a “fat girl” embrace her chub and is unabashed and joyous in her body is offensive.

What’s offensive is the shitty attitude most people have about bigger people (as it’s not just women!) being seen and embraced and taking up space in a world where they’re constantly told they need to shrink or not be seen – or at least less boisterous about their self-love.

What really struck a chord with me… well, I don’t know what triggered it, but it was like a light bulb came on in response that something she (Megan) said… was that, when I was “skinny and fit” (65-80 lbs lighter than I am now) I still wasn’t happy with my body. Yes, I certainly did enjoy certain aspects of it, but ultimately, those times when I was enviously fit and toned with lean legs and arms, I still hated myself. I would dress myself in pretty wrapping but it still housed garbage inside. I look back now and wonder “what the hell was I thinking?!”! All those years and decades of dieting and restricting… and for what? To hate myself and pick apart my body and STILL never feel like I’m good enough?

The one thing that Megan did say, however, that body positivity doesn’t want to exclude those currently in media – on the runway, in magazines, on advertisements, etc – but we want them to make space for us. HOW is using a model that a very, very small percentile of people will ever look like – and even then, that’s with excessive dieting. Yes, there’s a very few of them who are naturally small without starving themselves, but that’s a small percentile on an already minuscule percentile!!! But how is using a model that none of us have a hope in hell to look like going to sell their products? “but the clothing hangs better on certain bodies”. Yeah, but if >95% of the population doesn’t look like the models, why would they buy clothing that will look nothing like what you’re trying to sell? I wouldn’t!

Hell! After the uproar of the Nike “fat mannequin”, I’m MORE inclined to buy and support Nike than I was before!!! Between their amazingly motivating ad campaigns which have actually made me cry!!! And supporting controversial people who have taken a stand against oppression (or whatever you want to call it!) They are a company I can and will support!

When I was in bodybuilding, I lost a lot of weight very quickly; in the final week before my second competition, I lost 18 lbs in 5 DAYS. Yes, most of it was water, but still! I was maybe eating 600 calories a day and exercising 2-3 hours every day on top of working a full-time job. My body weight was about 115 lbs and my body fat percentage was in the low single digits. I lost my period and my emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t concentrate and I was cold all the time. I had 2 miscarriages in the year following the competition. I was down to a size 00 and my bra size was “training bra” material; 36A was too big! Thankfully, once that competition was over, I completely rebounded and though I wish I hadn’t gone from one extreme to another (gained about 75 lbs by the following summer) it was necessary in order to get my period back and end the restrictive dieting and over exercising.

The truth is, all us “fat girls” aren’t going anywhere. We’ll continue loving ourselves and encouraging others to love themselves as they are. “Fat” is a fact of life. You NEED fat on your body for multiple reasons; body fat is required to maintain life and reproductive functions, it helps protect your organs, and regulation of hormones to name a few. It’s when excess body fat is being held on the body that there may be concerns – but looking at one’s physical shape is not a way to determine actual healthiness of a person. I am considered obese and yet, other than my B12 deficiency, my blood work is very good, from my cholesterol, thyroid, hemoglobin, and multiple other health indicators. Yes, I’d like to lose some of my chub, but that’s so I can do more of what I want to do more easily and has nothing – let me repeat that, NOTHING – to do with trying to shrink myself to a certain physical standard of societal acceptability.

Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – tastes better than healthy feels. And healthy will feel different to everyone – and that’s the way it should be! It’s also one of the many reasons why diets don’t work! You can’t create a carbon-copy diet and expect it to work for every person who tries it. Yes, it may work for some people, but you simply can’t expect it to be the same for everyone! You need to be very body aware to understand what and how you’re eating and whether or not it agrees with your constitution.

Vegan pizza! YUM!

For instance, back when I was having the urge to go to vegan, I kept telling myself: “But I’ve lost weight on the keto diet” which is all about the animal protein and dairy and little carbs. I decided to listen to my intuition and go vegan because, for me, there’s more important things to do than try to lose weight.

Intuitive eating is hard – you have to try and navigate your thoughts to decipher the difference between needing something or wanting something. It’s being aware of portion size without being restrictive. It’s allowing yourself to enjoy all foods you want – the biggest thing is making sure the majority of your dietary intake is healthful whole foods. For me, I eat vegan but I still have convenience foods like burgers and fries (vegan burger, of course!) and chips and tacos (with veggie ground). The only foods that I’m “black listing” are those that contain animal products. I’ll still have cake if it’s vegan… which, granted, isn’t likely, but vegan foods are becoming more available and the variety is getting better.

Whatever your “diet modality” is (eg: mine is vegan) do what feels good for you. Don’t allow societal pressures to force you into a diet mentality that has you thinking you’re not perfect as you are. Embrace yourself, find an eating modality that works with both your tastes and lifestyle. Learn your way around the kitchen and don’t be afraid to try new foods!

And never, ever forget: a multi-billion dollar industry thrives on you hating yourself. It thrives in you believing that you’re not good enough and that you need to change.

The only reason you should want to change is because YOU want to; that you love yourself and want to honor your body.

You ARE enough – no matter how hard someone tries to convince you otherwise.

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