The Body Positivity Movement Isn't Just For Adults

The Body Positivity Movement Isn't Just For Adults

Healthy looks different on different bodies.
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Let’s do an experiment. Think of your best friend, your significant other, someone who means a lot to you.

One day, you ask this person’s opinion on an outfit. They look you over and proceed to tell you everything negative you’ve ever told yourself about your own body.

Maybe that you’re too fat to wear this, too thin to wear that, too short, too tall, that you have too much cellulite, that you have too many stretch marks, that you should cover up your fat arms, that your legs are too twiggy and that they just don’t have any suggestions for you to improve — you’re just a hopeless case of ugly.

Would you stay associated with this person?

I wouldn’t.

So why do we consistently put ourselves down?

Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. We’ve all heard this before, so maybe that experiment wasn’t very effective.

Here’s another one. If you have kids, think of them. If you don’t, pretend you do.

Now, pretend that for an entire week everything you say to yourself about your own body, you have to say to your kids about their bodies.

Could you do it? Probably not, because you love them.

You would never say those things to someone you love that much. So why can’t we love ourselves?

We’re taught to think that there’s always something worth fixing or improving, so we can never be happy with who we are naturally. But are we ever any happier once those things are “fixed?”

Even once you reach a healthy weight for your body type, you keep pushing for those extra five pounds to melt off, and then another five, and another five, and another and by this point, what you’re doing isn’t even healthy anymore – you just want to see that number drop.

We can blame these problems on celebrities, social media, sexualized advertising or mean teenagers all we want because, yes, they can make the issue worse. But poor body image has much deeper roots.

The reality is that these thoughts aren’t inherent, they’re not organic, they don’t just exist on their own. These thoughts and their resulting behaviors are learned and socialized from the moment kids step into a preschool classroom, and in some cases, well before.

Kids as young as six have poor body image and consider dieting. Surely, they’re not hearing dieting tips from other six-year-olds, but their wide-open eyes and ears leave them thinking about their bodies in the same manner that their parents do.

Parents lay the foundation for poor body image when they ask their kids if they look fat in a piece of clothing when they let their kids hear them talk about dieting or when their kids see them refuse to wear something because of how they look.

This doesn’t mean they’re bad parents — they were socialized to think these things in the exact same way.

And as we get older, it only gets worse.

I was in the second grade the first time a peer commented on my body. We wore uniforms at my school, and a kid in my class told me that my stomach was too fat for my jumper since it poked out over the edges of the waistband.

I was seven years old. That’s almost 13 years ago.

A little later on, two different kids told me that they would never want me to be on their team in PE class. They didn’t say it was because I was fat, but that’s how I understood it.

That was nine years ago.

Another time, someone else laughed in my face when I told them I wanted to play volleyball. Again, it’s all about implication.

That was six years ago.

There’s more, but I think I’ve made my point.

I haven’t forgotten any of these instances. I started thinking about these kinds of comments every time I got dressed, and I made a habit of crossing my arms in front of my stomach when I sat down. People asked me why I sat like that and I just told them I was always cold.

This is why body positivity is a movement, not something we just automatically know, like our hair color or our name.

But we can’t just word-vomit physical affirmations and expect body positivity to magically appear in the minds of our most vulnerable.

Tell your kids, your young siblings, your little cousins, the kids you babysit and even your own parents that their bodies are good bodies. Remind them that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes and that numbers on scale mean nothing.Teach them how to nourish and take care of their body instead of punishing it. Debunk the perfection myth, and help them grow to love the body they’re in. And don’t forget to love your body, too.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things. If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity towards this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you, if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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I Wouldn't Call You Fat, So Why Would You Call Me Skinny?

It does just as much damage.

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I have an eating disorder. I love to eat, but I don't do it often. I go three to four days at a time putting nothing in my body but water and the occasional coffee. I chew gum constantly so my blood sugar doesn't drop too low and I can still function. For these three days, my body eats itself because I refuse to eat for it.

Then I eat again. I wake up, make myself breakfast, pack my lunch for the day and go on my way. I snack throughout the day until I come home and make myself dinner. I go to bed feeling full and happy because I finally ate.

Then we're back to three days of starving myself. This pattern is continuous. It has gone on for so much of my life that it seems normal. I am so used to starving myself that it almost feels like what I'm supposed to do.

I don't starve myself intentionally. I don't do it because I hate my body. Because I want to be skinnier. I love my body and have been lucky enough my entire life to eat pretty much whatever I want and gain no weight.

I don't eat because my anxiety is eating me alive. It turns the foods I love so much into the most disgusting things I could think of. The thought of food makes me nauseous. The smell of it is enough to make me actually throw up. Forget even trying to actually eat anything, this is an impossible task.

I only wish this wasn't something I struggled with.

I have always been a skinny kid, and people have always commented on my weight, or lack thereof, not realizing they are only feeding into the problem. I know I'm skinny, but I wish I wasn't. I wish I could eat normally and gain weight, but it isn't that easy for me. I wish I could get my anxiety to leave me alone, but I can't.

When people draw attention to my body, it only makes me more anxious. This anxiety makes me stop eating. I then lose weight. Then people comment on how skinny I look. Then I get more anxious. This cycle goes on and on.

I don't need people to comment on my weight. I don't need people to call me skinny. I don't need people to remind me of the struggles I already know I am having.

What I do need is for people to be there for me. I need people to support me, love me, care about me. Because when I feel loved, my anxiety becomes more manageable. I am able to start controlling my feelings and dealing with them appropriately. I am able to tell my anxiety to leave me alone so I can finally eat that slice of pizza I've wanted for days.

So please, don't tell me I'm skinny, even if you mean it in a good way because I already know that. I don't need a reminder that my body looks a certain way because I see that every day. All I need is people to support me and love me so I can love to eat again.

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