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The Inner Turmoil I Feel About 'Body Positivity'

I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I definitely consider myself a disordered eater. I’ve dealt with food addiction, binge eating and extreme dieting. Food has been the way I cope since I was a little kid. When I was sad, I turned to food. When I was angry at my family, I turned to food. When I was bored, I turned to food. Everything was centered around food. Vacations, celebrations and just mundane activities like watching TV or doing homework.

This became a problem when I went to the doctor in the second grade and the doctor told my mother I was overweight. This sent my weight-conscious mother into a severe panic. Since then (I’m now a senior in college) I have been put on every diet and exercise regimen in the book. And what a shock, I “failed” at every single one.

The problem with telling your child they need to lose weight, is that it feels like you also lose that sense of unconditional love from your parents. They receive this message of “You’re not good enough,” or “There’s something wrong with you,” sending them into this pointless journey of trying to seek approval based on the way that they look on the outside.

After many years of struggling to lose weight, I decided to educate myself. I took nutrition classes in college and learned the science behind losing weight. This was extremely helpful and it has really changed the way I look at food and exercise. I know now that it is always better to add healthy foods than restrict and label foods as “bad.” That every food is OK in moderation. I know the difference between a simple carb and a complex carb. But I still am at war with myself.

I attribute this inner turmoil to the recent popularity of body positivity. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully supportive of being confident in one’s body, but it’s hard to decide between thinking “I’m perfect the way I am,” and “I need to lose weight in order to be healthier.” How do I decide between being content with who I am and my own personal health? I’d like to believe that you can have it all. You strive to be healthy while loving your body the entire time, but I haven’t been able to achieve that mindset. I’m completely lost within this constant debate I have going on with myself. I want to love myself unconditionally, but I also want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without being insanely out of breath.

I feel like the obvious, cliché answer is that you should always love yourself first. True self-love would make me feel more inclined to take care of my body, right? But how do I learn to love myself? How does one learn to love the skin they are in when they have been told otherwise their entire life? How do I fight my depression and think positively about myself? I know it’s possible, I see that it’s possible. I see plus-sized women on Instagram slaying and working their curves and I am so jealous of that confidence. Why can’t I have that?

The best I (and many others) can do is fake it until we make it. Look in the mirror every day and repeat to ourselves that we are perfect the way we are until one day we wake up and believe it.

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Thinkstock photo via Teraphim