I have this theory, one that I’m sure tons of people have had before me, that the main reason people don’t get involved in movements they are passionate about is because they don’t think they can make a difference. And hey, I’m guilty. Before I started Healthyezsweet Life, I felt so strongly about wanting to help young women love their bodies and resist diet culture, but figured my voice couldn’t possibly change anything. I should’ve known that if you want to change something big, start small. Start with yourself. If you struggle with self confidence, body image, or fear of weight gain – do this one thing daily to begin loving your body.
Taking Body Positive to the Streets
June of 2015. I had to travel across a couple countries and experience body positivity in a different culture in order to apply it to my own life. I was living in Panamá at the time and I noticed just how differently women there carried themselves as opposed to most of the women I was used to being around in Los Angeles. Ladies there didn’t seem to care about thigh gaps, belly rolls, or cellulite. In fact, in the streets, women from size XS to size XXL rocked their crop tops in the summer heat, jiggled in their short shorts, and smiled while doing so. One day I remember seeing a larger woman walking with her friend, muffin top spilling over her jeans, crop top clinging at belly rolls, and laughing wholeheartedly at something her friend had said. She didn’t seem to be remotely aware about her body not conforming to a thin ideal, and if she was, well she just couldn’t care less. At first I was envious, and then I was shameful. The first thing I had noticed about this woman was her body, and that felt incredibly shallow. I decided then that I would stop taking stock of other women’s physical appearances, and what happened next was amazing.
You know how that saying goes, “Change yourself, change the world.” Well in this case, changing the way you look at the world will change the way you feel about yourself (in the best way possible). When I started this little experiment, The more I conditioned myself to stop analyzing other women’s appearances, the less I self conscious I felt about my own. It’s like body positivity was taking root from the outside in, and in order for me to begin loving my body and implementing body positivity in my life, I had to give it to all the women in my life. I had to stop judging them by their appearances (even if it was unintentional) and stop comparing our bodies because these comparisons never made me feel better.
Do This One Thing Every Day
If you’re looking for somewhere to start in your journey to body positivity, start with this one action. The next time you see a woman whether it’s your mom, your friend, or someone on the street: stop any internal dialogue about her looks and replace it with another thought. For example, the first thing to catch your eye may be the pretty sweater she’s wearing which could lead to you thinking about how it looks on her body and how it might look on yours. Stop that thought at the first stage and replace it with something like “Whoever she is, I want her to be happy.”
Let Body Positivity Grow Like a Flower
The purpose of this exercise is that it forces you to detach any pre-formed conceptions you have about beauty, bodies, and how the two intersect. You are simply refusing to draw any conclusions about another woman’s body and instead, just hoping she is happy. When you get in the habit of taking the emphasis off of others’ bodies, not only do you stop comparison envy before it has a chance to begin, but you condition your mind to spend less time obsessing over silly things like weight and appearance. As for the second part of the equation, replacing a thought about her body with the hope that she is happy, that’s something I nabbed from Tim Ferris’s book Tools of Titans. Ferris explains that individuals who practice the behavior of choosing three, random people a day and simply thinking “I wish for this person to be happy” report significantly lower stress levels and increased quality of life. So what do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? A better relationship with your body, increased happiness, and the beginning of your role in body positivity. What are you waiting for?
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