The term "body positive" was always hard for me.
While I agreed with the social justice movement behind it, and I admired the fierce body positive activists I saw online, the term never really resonated with me, personally.
I didn't want to pose in a bathing suit and take selfies, and I still had/have days I want to lose weight, dislike a part of my body, cringe at a picture of myself, or get frustrated that my clothes didn't fit.
On an intellectual level I KNOW that women's body/beauty ideals are all bullshit.
But on an emotional level I couldn't imagine how to stop playing the "young, pretty, and thin" game. It seemed too unrealistic and hard to stop.
I felt trapped.
I could see the other side, the "radical body acceptance" wonderland, yet there was a vast distance between where I was now and where I wanted to be.
So I asked for help.
I knew that those people living in the body acceptance space weren't just whistling Dixie... I knew that they really, truly believed these things, so I trusted their advice and counsel.
And I did what they did.
I started reading books like The Beauty Myth and began to see how the 'diet culture sausage' was made. I started to learn how the beauty/body ideals I accepted as "truth" were actually manufactured as a way to keep women preoccupied and distracted... while those in power kept benefiting from our work and overwhelm.
I completed the FANTASTIC online course by Beauty Redefined where I learned how women have internalized these manufactured and objectifying messages (that younger. thinner, and prettier are always better) and NOW we don't even need the big, bad marketing machines to spread the word...
Now we do it on our own! We happily preach to ourselves via our harsh inner critic and to one another via social media, mothers to daughters, friend to friend, and sister to sister.
This made me angry.
I am angry at the lies I've been told and that there are people getting rich and powerful off of my suffering.
I am angry that I shared these lies with good intentions but without fulling understanding their harmful impact.
I am angry that I was participating in my own oppression and the oppression of other women.
I don't blame or shame myself for buying into the "beauty myth" because I know I was just doing what I needed to do to survive in the current culture. I didn't know what I didn't know.
I forgive myself for buying into the lie of "I'm not good enough".
But NOW that I know more I can choose to DO more.
I understand that NO good can come from a world of women not feeling good enough: not pretty enough, thin enough, fashionable enough, busy enough, happy enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough.
My breakthrough moment came when I finally understood:
When I don't see myself as enough
it’s hard to see other women as enough.
When I think my body isn't good enough I am buying into a lie.
When I buy into the lie about myself, I easily buy into the lie about you too.
This is all very subconscious of course. I don't rationally or consciously make this choice. I've been conditioned since I was born and these deep neural pathways don't change overnight.
But they do change! With the media I consume, the language I carefully use, and the inner dialogue and I choose to participate in.
I don't have a daughter of my own but I do have nieces, sisters, a mother, best girlfriends, and a teenage girl I mentor. I never want to look at them and believe that they aren't good enough.
So I choose another reality.
I choose to believe I am enough. And what I believe about myself often becomes what I believe about them. And visa versa.
This has changed everything. No, it doesn't take away ALL the negative thoughts ALL the time but it DOES give me the strength and insight to push back when they pop up because I see them for what they really are: lies that cause harm to myself and others.