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How I'm Being Body Positive, Even When I'm Uncomfortable in My Body

Seeing body positive posts all over the internet has been mostly positive, but at first, it gave me some unreasonable expectations of myself during recovery. You can’t go from loathing your appearance to loving it overnight. It’s hard to make that transition in one thought process — in one snap decision. But I wanted it to be that quick of a change. I didn’t fully understand everything at first, but I believed that in order to be a part of a body positive culture, it meant I had to love my body all of the time. Doing that while in eating disorder recovery just isn’t that easy. It can’t be one of those so called “snap decisions.”

Seeing people in their underwear or swimsuits posting these long Instagram captions of how they found acceptance did motivate me in some ways, and it was also a reminder that I, too, have been in that spot, but at times it just felt discouraging. Logging into other social media platforms like Tumblr and Facebook had similar effects on me. Seeing before and after photos weren’t always things that made me smile. If my body wasn’t like those in the picture, I felt like maybe I wasn’t able to be part of that culture of “body love” just yet and that I needed to “wait” until I fit some sort of criteria. But I have found that loving yourself doesn’t have entry requirements, it’s an invitation and it’s always there for you, welcoming you.

Reading how people found this new love for their bodies was like a breath of fresh air, but since I was still trying to find it myself, I felt behind. I thought I just couldn’t do recovery “right.” I felt like I would always only be halfway in recovery, and halfway in eating disorder land. But I was wrong. I need to allow myself to accept my body, whether I believe I deserve it or feel a bit behind. I’ve come to find that being “body positive” doesn’t mean I have to love my body 100 percent of the time. Rather, that I promise to work with it — not against it, and to always try my best to accept myself in whatever form I’m in.

There’s a quote I love that I repeat to myself often:

“Accepting this body did not mean convincing myself that it was beautiful, it meant giving myself permission to exist regardless.” Trista Mateer

The size of my thighs or the width of my hips doesn’t get to determine how much fun I have at the party, or how often I use my smile. I am not wrong for having this body. I am allowed to eat the rest of the ice cream and wear my favorite high waisted shorts instead of hiding away in my leggings and baggy sweatshirt. And while I still may struggle with this, and some days it feels further away from me, trying to love and accept myself is always more worthwhile than any time dwelling on ways I “need” to change myself.

I don’t need to love my body every second of the day, but that shouldn’t mean I withhold things from it that it deserves — like nutrition or going out with friends. My body doesn’t need to be punished for simply existing and neither does yours. If you’re looking for permission to find body positivity or self-love, this is it. You have all the permission in the world to accept yourself in the form you’re in.

This piece was originally publish on Project Heal

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Unsplash photo via Harry Burk 

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