You know what? I wasn’t done.
I knew when I was writing part one of this series that I had eons more to say. While my perspective (white cis straight-sized wahine plagued by ghosts of body insecurity and fear of weight gain) is not representative of everyone by any means, I know damn well just how commonplace my experiences are, regardless of your size, gender and or race – even if they manifest to different degrees and within different concepts.
I don’t weigh myself anymore
…because it’s just a number. A number that younger me has fixated over, stressed about, cried over and aimed to shrink because I thought it would make me feel better about myself.
This shit runs deep.
At around eight, increasingly aware of my body and how it compared to my peers’, I convinced myself that my chub was the reason I felt so alienated by my peers. Spoiler alert: it was the autism.
While it can initially put you on a high to see a lower number on the scale, the feeling is always fleeting: flooded with thoughts like how can I stay like this and surely another kg less… and always proceeded with frustration when that number inevitably goes up again. Bodies fluctuate, and that’s just how it works.
I don’t ever count calories
…because it’s an endless cycle of guilt, and a recipe for feelings of failure. Have you ever tried to stay under a meagre 1600, 1400, 1200 kcal without experiencing hunger pangs, hanger, or brain fog? Fat chance.
In 2016 when I felt awful after gaining a bunch of weight in my gap year, I blogged about my thoughts at the time: Body Image: Why I’m “Fat” Sometimes. The intention was to relinquish some of my shame and insecurity about it. Secretly though, I also dabbled in water fasting. Now, I realise how messed up that was to do and how it not only amplified my sense of failure when nothing much came of it, it also stopped me sleeping because my body was pumping cortisol and adrenaline out much more than it typically would, as if to say, yo, I think we’re in danger here? Better slay a tiger or something.
I don’t punish myself with exercise anymore
…for the most part. I won’t lie and say I’m never one to do this, but I will say I want no part in associating exercise with guilt felt after consuming food. Moving my body can (and should) be such a pleasurable thing. Walking, swimming, running, and cycling tend to be my go-to solo activities. I’m also known to have a cheeky dance party when the flatties are gone.
I try not to hold onto clothes that haven’t fit me in years
This one is a work in progress. How garbage does it feel to gaze into your closet and see pieces you can’t wear anymore? The zip won’t do up, the fabric pulls taut or the denim digs into your hips. You’re holding onto a distant vision of slimming down to fit that dress again, but as time passes nothing much changes. If your closet is full of clothes that are sizes too small, every time see them you’re reminded of that painful not-good-enough, not-skinny-enough, used-to-be you. In many respects, it’s self-torture. Perhaps that sounds melodramatic, but if you’re like me, or like many millions of women worldwide, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Your thicc thighs cannot be tamed, nor should they be. You friggin deserve to feel good about yourself, and if you can’t feel good about yourself yet, read up on body neutrality. We can’t love ourselves all the time, and that’s okay. Appreciating what our bodies do for ourselves is a whole other (incredibly liberating, imo) ball game.
4 thoughts on “New Year, Same Me: Bodies (Part Two)”
I love this! I have thoughts on body neutrality, not as a criticism of what you wrote at all, but just as an alternative perspective 🙂
I see body neutrality as a separate mindset entirely, not as a stepping stone towards body positivity. While body positivity is rooted in the value of physical appearance, and loving the way you look, body neutrality grew out of the idea that how you look has no bearing on your value as a human. I know that everyone approaches these things differently, but I practice body neutrality by appreciating what my body can do and loving the way it works to help me live my life and do all the things I want to do. By uncoupling my feelings about my body from the way that it physically appears, I can listen to what my body wants and needs to be able to keep doing what it does without any consideration of how these things will change its physical appearance. My body needs food to keep it powered and it needs rest when its been working hard and it needs moving when its been holding a lot of stress. Focusing on appreciating my body for what it does for me allows me to give it what it needs to continue to operate at its best without any of the feelings of guilt, shame or pressure that might accompany these things if I loved my body for what it looked like.
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I love this, Emma! You’ve captured it well. I suppose I have unwittingly implied that body positivity is the end goal, but I don’t necessarily think that. Thinking more deeply about it, I see that body positivity can appear shallow and even a little vain contra body neutrality with its emphasis on function and practicality (the latter two of which I am a big fan). That, and thinking positively about our bodies consistently is both exhausting and oftentimes not particularly realistic. I highly appreciate you sharing your perspective, and I think you’ve just inspired a part three x
I love this topic and it’s really close to my heart. Over and above all, confidence is indeed key to all this
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