For most of my life, I have always been the 'bigger' girl. My breasts started to develop in elementary school and my period soon followed. I was very aware that I never looked like any of the models I saw in magazines or on TV. Going clothes shopping was a nightmare – I could never find any clothes that would fit my body type and that I felt comfortable in.
My mother, bless her with her good intentions, instilled an ideology in me that did not encourage body positivity. She was very focused on weight loss and dieting. From a young age I was valuing myself on the basis of my pants size, the number on the scale, and how little I could eat while remaining 'functional.' Needless to say, I developed terrible body image which eventually turned into bulimia.
I was truly convinced that if I was over 125 pounds I was worthless and unattractive. Five years ago I entered treatment for bulimia and obviously, one of the main focuses was body image. In these past five years, I have been fighting to find some type of body positivity. I would also like to mention that in these five years I have gained a significant amount of weight (which is very typical for people in treatment for eating disorders).
The first 3 years of my treatment I was focused on the fact that I felt I couldn't have positive body image if I was gaining weight. Then around a year ago, something changed. My weight had finally begun to stabilize and I started spending time looking at my body.
In the beginning, I hated my body. I had finally accepted that I was a plus size women but I felt I was the wrong type of plus size. I would constantly tell myself that I need to be the type of plus size women who don't have a muffin top (ridiculous I know). Social media had previously been a place that my bulimia loved because I would constantly compare to the people on my feed. One day I decided to start following plus size and body positive accounts on Instagram. I started shopping at only stores that I knew would have my size (shoutout to Torrid and Forever21+).
I started to find clothes that I liked but that also fit my body type. Instead of crying in dressing rooms I started taking selfies. Instead of wearing t-shirts and leggings everywhere I started wearing dresses, cute tops, and even shorts. I slowly started to love myself and my body. I used to look at my back rolls and cry in disgust. But now I look at my back rolls (albeit I am still very insecure about this area of my body) and I tell myself that I am beautiful even if I don't like every part of my body.
I used to be extremely critical of how my body looked during sex or in certain outfits. When my friends and I took pictures I would only position myself in a way that looked thinner. I wouldn't wear shorts or tank tops because I thought that people my size shouldn't be allowed to wear shorts or tank tops. I used to never want solo full body pictures taken of me.
Now when I have sex I am focused on my partner instead of how my body looks. I wear shorts and tank tops because when it's hot out I want to wear the most minimal amount of clothing. Now I want those solo pictures because I'm proud of my body and who I am.
I am not claiming that my relationship with my body is perfect. But I am finally learning how to love myself the way I am. I have stretch marks. I have cellulite. My thighs move when I walk. I have a double chin and a muffin top. But I am still beautiful despite all of this. Every woman (plus size or not) deserves to love their bodies. Having insecurities is normal but having these insecurities define us is not. It is impossible for us to live up to the expectations that the media puts on us.
Learning to love my body has made my life so much fuller and happier. I have become a better friend, romantic partner, and overall person.