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Tag Archive for body image

The Badge

By Emily P.

For seven years, my ribs were a badge of honor. When they peeked through, I was powerful. As though the wars I fought with my body were worth the pain. Badge

I earned that badge by skipping meals, throwing up, and hiding my food. My stomach flattened and my ribs rose. Sometimes, I imagined them bursting past my skin, and that felt strangely comforting.

I didn’t care that I froze when the air conditioning switched on. I ignored the bulging wads of hair that fell from my scalp. I disregarded my stinking breath and the blurred vision when I stood up. As long as I saw those ribs, I was superb.

But during my second year of college, I slowly morphed out of counting calories and obsessing over portion-sizes. I grew tired of my brain’s daily acrobatics with food, and I changed my focus.

I focused on friendships, creative projects, school, hard work: anything that pushed the eating disorder out of my skull, little by little.

Today, I don’t obsess over that badge anymore. I eat until I’m full, and I’ve learned to mostly love my ever-changing body. But there’s always a meek question that protrudes through my thoughts: Will I ever relapse?

It’s frightening to think about.

I cried the first time my double zero jeans felt tight. My brain set off an internal hurricane when I couldn’t pull them past my thighs. Learning to love my health and myself, that was a strenuous fight. And I don’t want to fall back into my former mindset, to fall back into Anorexia.

But there are moments. Moments when I see a bit of my rib in the mirror and a glimmer of pride emerges.

That’s when awareness snaps over me and I push that pride aside, concentrating on self-love.

I used to view Anorexia as a lightswitch that you could click off. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

But there are moments. And maybe there will always be moments. Moments signaling that the fight’s not over. Moments that morph my ribs back into a badge of honor.

It helps to acknowledge moments like these. Understanding these mental changes and actively thinking about my health, that’s how I cope.

And while people deal with Anorexia in different ways, I wonder if the feeling of uncertainty is universal. As I fight and look past my former badge of honor, I accept that my mentality isn’t black and white. That while I am better, I’ll strive to work through the gray.

To look back on the badge as a distant memory. To develop a new badge of honor: my health.

Accepting My Body. Finally!

By Katy M.

Your body is remarkable and can do remarkable things.

Each body has a different figure, shape and size. Not one is the same, so cherish your body without comparison, and always remember there is no wrong way to have a body!

Since I’ve recovered from my eating disorder, I love sharing body positive words I’ve heard. Like many people, I struggled, but one thing I discovered through my recovery was yoga.

It’s fascinating when you experience what your body can do. 
katy yogaWhat I loved most was how everyone in my class was different yet all beautiful while throwing themselves into different poses. Now I practice yoga every week because it makes me appreciate my body, and helps me recognize the strength that I have physically and mentally.

 

 

There are so many ways you can appreciate and enjoy your body! 

These are some rules I personally follow that help me:

  • Be your body’s best friend – I repeat positive affirmations and quotes to myself like, “your body is unique and special and gorgeous!”
  • Listen to music – I listen to certain music that helps lift my spirits on a down day, like Ed Sheeran’s lyrics: “Just remember life’s not about fitting in your jeans; it’s loving and understanding and positivity.”
  • Focus on what your body can do – How it moves and how lucky we are to have our body!
  • Don’t read celeb magazines – They are filled with people saying that you are too thin or too fat – we are all beautiful and different.
  • Avoid stepping on the scale – There was a time in my life when I stepped on the scale 6/7 times a day. This is such a waste of my time. If I am happy in myself and my body, weight doesn’t matter. Remember, “You are much more than a number. The scale says you are the numerical value of your gravitational pull. It will not tell you how beautiful you are, and how much your family loves you.”
  • Write down motivational words – I created a book filled with positive affirmations, quotes, and lyrics I find inspirational, repeating them to myself when I need to. Here are a few quotes from my book I’d like to leave you with:
“Don’t let the past dictate your future, create a life that brings you health and happiness.”all bodies are good bodies

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

and finally…

YOUR BODY, YOUR RULES! <3

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.

Defying Cultural Standards of Beauty

By Volunteer

I am 5’9.

I am skinny.

I have a dark skin.

I used to hate all these features of my body, and every once in a while, I still struggle with them. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that what all females want…to be tall and really skinny, like models?” I hear it all the time. “You’re sooo lucky…I wish I had your body type.” Thing is, I never felt lucky.

In America, women tend to want to have tall slender bodies, because the media represents these features as the “norm.” This is not the case in my culture. In the African culture, my body features are considered “unattractive,” “manly” and even “ugly.” In my culture, men want women who are 5 feet tall, with light skin and curvaceous bodies. I have always felt self-conscious about my body because I am the EXACT opposite of what men in my culture consider to be beautiful.

Instead of being 5 feet tall, I feel like a giant at almost 6 feet tall. Instead of having big breasts, child bearing hips and a voluptuous rear end, I feel ugly because my breasts are barely an A cup and my torso is thin. I have felt ugly for a large portion of my life because of my body type. I do not represent the ideal of feminine beauty in my culture, which is something I know American women struggle with daily as well.

Instead of having light skin, I am dark, which is not appreciated by African or American standards of beauty. I’ve always felt like the dark skin is automatically seen as unattractive to men. As a matter of fact, many media communicators have been accused of “whitewashing” the skin of African American people by making their pictures lighter, and there is an abundance of visual evidence to prove this.

thVC1GKBEBI have judged myself against the African standard of beauty for most of my life. However, as I approach adulthood, I am beginning to see that my features are unique. I am my own person on the inside and I love who I am. It is only fitting that I learn to accept the person I am on the outside. I am beginning to see beauty standards at face value. I do not need to fit into African or American beauty standards, nor do I want to. Unfortunately, beauty standards are driven into our heads from a young age, so it took me a long six years to realize that I am beautiful just the way I am.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but I made it to a place where I am happy with myself inside and out. I always used to look down on myself, despite what people told me. Every time I’d leave my house I would hear people telling me that I was stunning, beautiful, model like, and that I look like a goddess. I couldn’t hear them because of my own negative thoughts. Comments like these made me wonder why I was having all of these negative thoughts in the first place – and then it clicked. I was wishing so hard to be something that was preferred by my culture. I decided then that I would not let any cultural norm dictate what was beautiful and what was not.

It does not matter at all what people think of you – all that matters is what you think of yourself and I know now that I am beautiful inside and out despite the preference of any culture. To anyone out there struggling with your body image, just know that you are beautiful no matter what anyone says. Speak to yourself in ways that affirm your beauty.

I am a stunning 5’9!

I have a strong slender body!

I have smooth and silky dark skin!

And I love myself!