Body positivity isn’t about not wanting to change anything about yourself. It’s about loving yourself and doing what you think is best for you. It’s about being comfortable with who you are. If you think you need to lose weight, get a haircut, bulk up, or anything else, that’s okay as long as you’re doing it for yourself.

For years, I’ve disliked the way I look. I’m too chubby, there’s too much unnecessary hair on my face, the hair on my head is too thin, my eyebrows are too thick, my skin is too brown, the list goes on and on. I was made to feel ashamed about all of these characteristics of my body. I was made to believe that I was ugly because I wasn’t skinny or white. Because I didn’t have manageable, straight hair. Because I had sideburns. I hated myself for it all.

The attitudes of those around me towards my body made everything worse. I was already telling myself that I wasn’t beautiful, but the constant criticism and mention of my body by people closest to me hurt so much and made things even more difficult.

Sometimes people with the best intentions don’t know how deep their words cut.

“Did you lose/gain weight?” “You’d be beautiful if you got rid of your sideburns.” “What’s wrong with your hair?” “What’s wrong with your face?”

I desperately wanted change because I felt ugly. I wanted to lose weight and get rid of my facial hair. I went on medications that were supposed to stop hair growth. I tried covering up my face with the hair from atop my head. I wore baggy clothes to hide my rolls of fat. I tried dieting and exercising with little success because, man do I love ice cream.

But nothing worked and I wasn’t making progress because I wasn’t doing this for myself. I thought that if I were thin and didn’t have all that extra hair, that I’d be beautiful and people would love me.

I had to learn to love what I saw in the mirror. It was hard and I’m still struggling every day.

The societal definition of beauty impacts everyone. Somewhere along the way it was decided that chubby people couldn’t be happy. Society dictates that if you are chubby, you cannot be loved and you cannot live a full and happy life. But here I am, 225 pounds of pure love and kindness. I am chubby. I am beautiful and happy. And I love myself.

Body positivity is about celebrating who you are and how you feel in your skin. It’s about looking at the characteristics that make your body different from others’ and saying, “That is one of the many reasons why I am beautiful.”

If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, you have the power to change it. It’s important that you feel this change will make you feel and look more beautiful than you already are, based on your standards of beauty. Make a change for yourself, not anyone else.