Not A "Thick" Girl: Veganism And Body Image
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Health and Wellness

Not A "Thick" Girl: Veganism And Body Image

How changing my diet healed my body image.

Not A "Thick" Girl: Veganism And Body Image

I’ve been a dietary vegan for about three years. It’s been more than a diet - it’s been an impactful lifestyle change. I have so much I would like to share about my experience that I feel that would be best that discuss it in multiple parts. Here, I’m going to focus the physiological changes I’ve experienced since changing my diet.

Within the first 6 months of eating vegan, I lost between 15-20 pounds. I even lost weight in my face, which caused my appearance to change. I wasn’t used to it at first. My mom thought I was getting sick and needed to eat more. Like most moms, she is always encouraging me to eat, but instead of arguing with her like I normally would, I secretly agreed with her. I thought I was losing weight too fast.

I “lost” what little butt, hips, and chest I thought I had, dropping one cup size and about 3 pant sizes, depending on the brand/type of pants I was wearing. I began forcing myself to eat even when I was not hungry because I felt underweight and was afraid of losing more pounds.

I've always been body conscious. I would go to store after store to find clothes that fit comfortably, and I blamed my shopping challenges on what I believed to be my disproportional body. I had a criticism for every body part: too big, too small, or 'not like hers'.

I did not know that healing my body image would be part of the vegan journey. Prior to changing my diet, I was still consuming meat and diary and I was on an intense workout regimen to create shapely, curvy hips and thighs. I had never been thin before; in fact, I was quite chubby (and cute!) when I was younger. Dealing with this new “skinny” body was hard.

If my body confidence could be rated on a scale of 1-10, 1 being “I hate my body” and 10 being “I love my body,” I would rank myself a 5. I didn’t love it, but I was not satisfied either. I’m a product of the African diaspora, and I grew up in an environment where very curvy, “thick” figures are seen as sexy, beautiful, and appealing. Not having a curvaceous figure caused me to feel very self-conscious, and losing more weight than I intended added to that discomfort.

I’ve had many conversations with black women about the vegan diet. These women are interested in making a diet change, but concerns about losing “butts” or “titties” deter them from really making long-term dietary changes. We all know that we live in a society that embraces unrealistic expectations of women and their beauty. What I think we don’t truly realize is how much of an impact these expectations have on our decisions. I totally understand the fear of losing a body that is socially accepted and appreciated, a body that you are used to and comfortable with. In some circles, women who don’t have curvy or large butts may hear that they have a “pancake butt” or a “flat a**.” Of course, saying these sorts of things to a woman is disrespectful, humiliating, and sexist. Unfortunately, the fact that this sort of body shaming is wrong does not negate the pressure many women feel to maintain a certain body type. Breast and butt enhancements and all the other aesthetic surgeries that exist out there are a testament to the pressure women feel. What’s worse is that this sort of pressure would make women hesitant to engage in life-changing self-care.

I overcame my concerns about my changing body by asking questions. After doing research and talking to a friend who was farther along in the journey than I was, I realized that losing weight, even if it’s a lot more weight than expected, is all a part of a larger detoxification process that comes with cleaning up one’s diet. The body, being perfectly equipped to heal itself, especially when cared for, will eliminate what it no longer needs, or, as I love to say, what no longer serves it.

Here’s the best part: my body continues to evolve, mostly without my intervention. Without changing my exercise patterns (I barely exercised at all in 2015...oops) or eating habits, I naturally regained some of the weight I lost. In addition, my endurance has naturally increased because I’m not struggling against any excess weight. I am literally lighter on my feet! Once I begin weight training consistently, my muscle mass is sure to increase.

Now that my diet is clean, I see results from working out so much faster than I did before I changed my eating habits. I can literally sculpt my body through weight training. I can be proud of myself and continue to develop a healthy body image. My best body is my healthiest body; the body I care for.

What I didn’t realize is that, since I’m “little,” there are many new and fun clothing styles available for me to try. I can slide into all kinds of different tops and bottoms, and I’ve been much more experimental and free in terms of my clothing choices, especially in the summer.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however you define that, is the key to achieving your best and sexiest body. For anyone looking to decrease their body fat content and increase their muscle mass, I would definitely suggest experimenting with a vegan/vegetarian diet in addition to a fitness regimen. Of course, I am not a nutritionist, fitness trainer, or doctor, but hopefully, my anecdotal evidence is helpful and informational.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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