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Reflecting Body Positivity with BodyPosiPanda

By Caroline K.

I wasn’t put in the world just to be

looked at or to fit a societal standard of

beauty.

The body positive movement encourages people to accept and respect their bodies, as well as others’ bodies. It is also recognizing that our self-worth is not dependent on how we look, and that everyone is worthy of love.

One day when I was researching body positivity, I came across Megan Jayne Crabbe on Instagram. Megan has recovered from anorexia, and now has the mission to spread body positivity. Her confidence, strength, and wisdom was inspiring to me.

posipandaI reached out to Megan and asked her some questions about her journey to body positivity, advice she has for those struggling with body positivity, and how body positivity has changed her life. I want to share her answers with you!

With how pervasive unrealistic body ideals are in our culture, how did you begin by shutting those out?

Megan: “I think the first step in learning how to combat unrealistic body ideals is recognizing how damaging they are, and questioning where they come from in the first place. Once we realize that these ideals are things that we’ve been taught in order to proliferate industries that profit from our insecurities, we can see how hollow they are. They are quite literally made up. Should we continue to sacrifice our mental health and well-being trying to attain a fabricated image? Keep questioning, question everything that you’ve been taught about beauty, worth, and happiness.”

How have you kept your body positive mindset in moments where you have felt shame about your body?

Megan: “It’s essential that in learning body acceptance we don’t just stop at learning to feel confident with how we look. We also have to learn that we are so much more than how we look. So even if I’m having a day where I don’t feel totally in love with my body, I can remind myself that how my body looks is such a small part of who I am, and I wasn’t put in the world just to be looked at or to fit a societal standard of beauty. We are more than our bodies.”

How has body positivity changed your life?

Megan: “Body positivity gave me a life back that I didn’t believe I was worthy of living. I spent so many years believing that my real life would start happening once I’d lost weight, but since there was always more weight to lose and new ways to hate my body, it never did start. Now I’m not waiting for my body to change in order to experience life, I’m just experiencing it. I realize now that my body was never the problem, only my mindset.

Pursuing a body positive mindset can be difficult at times. With the societal messages we have been sent every day of our lives about bodies, it is understandable to find the transition to body positivity challenging. For those who are wanting to be body positive, but still struggle with negative body image, Megan has a great post on her website titled “What To Do If You Just Can’t Love Your Body” and you can read it here.

Megan Jayne Crabbe (bodyposipanda) is one of many body positive figures on Instagram. Instagram can be a toxic place for those struggling with body image. If you want to begin the journey to body positivity, I highly recommend following Megan and other body positive Instagrammers. In addition, unfollow people who make you feel that your body isn’t good enough. You can begin by searching #bodypositive and #BoPo. The journey to body positivity isn’t always easy, and you will have bad days. Beginning to realize that you are worthy of love no matter how you look is a great way to start your journey.

megan bodyposipanda

Thank you Megan for your inspiring words, advocacy, and willingness to share with us!

Books that helped Megan shift her mindset and learn about body positivity:

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Losing It by Laura Fraser

Body of Truth by Harriet Brown

Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

What’s Less Isn’t Always More

Eating disorders affect over 30 million Americans…200,000 of these are in the state of MN.

The Emily Program Foundation shares a number of statistics, like the one above, demonstrating the profound impact that eating disorders have on people. The Foundation has also shared the most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder is dieting. 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day. There is nothing wrong with wanting to eat nutritionally or consume a healthy proportion. However, it turns dangerous, fatal at times, when this goal becomes a fixation to lose weight, feeding into a $40 billion dollar industry that tells people they are not enough. Articles like 50 Things Your Doctor Wishes You Knew About Losing Weight from Reader’s Digest neglects the fact that everyone is different, and weight is not always directly correlated with health.

This article perpetuates a negative view of being “overweight”, clearly emphasizing the number on a scale, rather than focusing on how a person can be healthy regardless of weight. Remember, dieting is the most common behavior to lead to an eating disorder, and one of the main focuses within the article is dieting. One slide actually claims dieting is more important than exercise, which ignores the necessity of a holistic approach to sustaining one’s health; especially when exercise will give you those feel-good endorphins, while dieting might lead to feeling crummy about yourself and your relationship with food.

The article shouldn’t have to focus on weight loss and maintenance to offer ways to be healthier. In fact, it mentions a number of beneficial habits to maintaining a healthy mind and body. For instance:

  • Eating routinely and not skipping meals for one big meal
  • Getting your thyroid checked (it’s important to get regular checkups as a precaution for more serious health problems regardless of weight)
  • Getting enough sleep and exercise
  • Remembering it’s about progress not perfection.

Only once did the article allude to unhealthy dieting leading to eating disorders, saying that deprivation leads to binging.

While the intention was most likely to promote good health, the article’s focus on weight in controlling one’s lifestyle to lose it isn’t necessarily helpful or healthy either, particularly for those who struggle with personal insecurities. For those of you reading, think about what it means to be healthy. Keep in mind that weight isn’t always indicative of healthy habits, and it especially does not reflect the beauty of an individual. What is more important than weight or dieting, is how you feel! So be sure to get lots of sleep, exercise, eat well, and surround yourself with supportive friends and articles.

Legs

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “What is your favorite part about your body?” At this point, I know my answer without hesitation.

I’m a dancer. A kinesthetic learner. Someone who needs to move and explore without being confined, butt planted, posture hunched, or eyes fixated towards one space. I’m a dancer in that I bound and leap, bounce and lean, pulsing from the balls of my feet to the crown of my head. I twirl and spin, sometimes with great precision, most times in a twisted tangle to the music that feeds my soul through the roots I call legs.

20170822_133025

My legs.

My legs that carry me across sleek wooden floors, rough gray pavement, and rocky earthen paths.

My legs which make up for most of my 5 foot 7 inch frame.

My legs where the longest bones in my body give me the privilege of mobility.

I am truly fortunate.

I’ve been asked, “What is your favorite part about your body?” Without hesitation, I name my strongest foundation. My legs support me in exploration and self-expression, even when I believe I’m unable to continue. My legs challenge me to move, itching to stand if I’ve been planted for too long and eager to sway to any beat that reaches my ears.

I am truly thankful.

-E.P.

 

Being Still

Written by Heather Olson

TreesAs I’ve been working through recovery, one of the most challenging things I’ve encountered is appreciating and spending time alone. I find it very difficult to be alone because of the temptation to fall back into old habits when struggling with the difficulties of the day and the accompanied strong emotional reactions.  I find this to be challenging as well because I tend to be a naturally social and extroverted person who wants to talk to others constantly, even when I’m in a negative place and am not able to have the most positive interaction.  This can be especially draining when trying to sift through overwhelming temptations and strong emotions.

When I push myself out of my comfort zone to spend necessary time alone, whether it be taking a walk in the park, listening to my favorite worship music or sitting in complete silence and praying, it can sometimes be more helpful with working through what’s weighing on my heart and mind. One Bible verse that has really spoken to me in this area is Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”  Being able to be still by calming my mind and body before God and allowing Him to speak to me is precious and minimizes my focus that would have previously been on any self-destructive thoughts or actions.  It helps me to refocus and have more fruitful and positive interactions with others as well!

 

How I Stopped Hurting and Started Healing

Submitted by Amy Hastie 

Sometimes I forget how far I have come and how much I have progressed through my recovery from an eating disorder. I had one of those moments last week. I had slept in and as a result, I ended up hastily sprinting down the road towards my bus stop in the hope of still making it to work on time. Thankfully, I did manage to reach my place of employment in a punctual manner that morning, but that’s not the point of this story.

Amy Hastie - How I stopped hurtingI didn’t feel the physical effects of my spontaneous bus-catching jog until later that afternoon when I was enjoying a walk at the gym and started to feel a muscular pulling sensation near my groin. Here’s the amazing part ― I immediately pressed the “STOP” button on the treadmill, stepped off and went home to rest. This seemingly simple choice to stop exercising when feeling an injury coming on might seem like a logical and mundane decision for someone to make, but for me, it was an achievement.

See, I used to get injured ― a lot. I wasn’t accident-prone, clumsy or unlucky. Under the control of Anorexia and even in the later stages of my recovery, the incessant pressure to push past pain and risk my physical health for fear of gaining weight truly controlled and consumed my life. I could never risk a day without exercising. I was never allowed to alter the type of work-out, the intensity or length of time. Every session was rigid, punishing and exhausting beyond words. That’s why getting injured used to be the most terrifying thing in the world for me – it meant resting and the potential weight consequences that could follow.

Yet, the ironic thing was that over-exercising had always created injuries and physical health issues for me. If I had just listened to my body on so many occasions in the past, if I had rested for just a day or two, I could have spared my body so much pain.

During one of my anorexic relapses, I was participating in artistic in-line skating – essentially figure skating on roller blades. It was a wonderfully fun sport, but coupled with my obsessive and disordered tendencies, it was at times, unhealthy for me. I was over-exercising in addition to the skate training so my body was rapidly weakening in all its forms. One morning whilst doing my usual rigorous walk before work, I began to feel pain in the top of my foot. Of course, Anorexia told me to keep walking and disregard it, so I did. Weeks later, I was practicing at the rink when I landed a jump and suddenly felt excruciating pain in that same place in my foot. I stopped skating that evening, but the next day I was back to my grueling walk, once again ignoring all of the discomfort.

It wasn’t until I could barely stand on the foot (let alone walk), that I finally caved in and begrudgingly sought medical advice. After receiving the results of my x-rays and bone scans, it was confirmed that I had not one, not two, but three stress fractures in my foot. I was also informed that the bones in my feet were osteopenic, which can be a precursor to osteoporosis. I was devastated – not because of the severity of the injuries, but by the reality that I would not be able to exercise for weeks

What followed my stress fracture diagnosis was six months of wearing a protective boot. I was banned from any form of weight-bearing activity which in turn had Anorexia restricting my food intake once again. I was in such a dark place at a time when self-kindness and compassion should have been in full force.

A few months after my fractures had finally healed, I launched myself back into working out. Anorexia was taunting me about “lost time” and all the hard work I would need to do in order to regain its approval. As a result of this fear-inducing pressure, I ended up badly damaging my knee on the treadmill. I decided to rest, but not entirely ― that would have been “unacceptable”. Whilst sitting down and pumping weights one morning, I slipped a disc in my lower back. This injury was the most debilitated I had ever been and involved months upon months of bed-rest, pain and incapacity.

It is truly frightening how much of a hold Anorexia had on me. My body was in such danger and distress, yet the pressure to maintain an image of perfection took precedence.

As I have worked through my recovery, I have looked back and asked myself over and over – why didn’t I stop and rest as soon as I had felt that little twinge in my foot? What if I had decided to forego the treadmill and stay in bed the morning my knee gave out?

Moving forward, it’s amazing how natural it has become for me to simply listen to my body. I now stop when something feels even slightly uncomfortable or unnatural. Now that my mind is clear and healthy, I have the power to nurture and take care of myself physically. I have reduced the intensity and frequency of my workouts. If there is something fun occurring after work, I will skip exercising completely. If I am exhausted or run-down, I will simply rest, sleep and recuperate.

I now choose to move my body in a variety of ways, based on my genuine desires and needs. Sometimes if I am pumped and energized, I will turn up my favorite music and go to the gym. If I have been cooped up inside all day, I will enjoy a gentle wander around a beautiful park with my husband. Above all else, I stay in tune with what my body is asking of me. I decide on exactly what I feel like doing instead of what I am falsely obligated to.

Self-care is absolutely essential in our lives. Our bodies are all we have, so it is vital we take the very best care of them. Since embracing this mindset and lifestyle, I have been completely injury-free. It has taken me a long time to come to this peaceful, free and powerful place both physically and mentally, but I am so happy, content and proud that I made it here.