I’m sharing a few thoughts to Help You Feel More Body Positive When You Don’t, in today’s post. So if, like me, you’re struggling with body-image issues, whether it’s embracing your size, your wrinkles, or your shape, let’s talk.
“We drink the poison our minds pour for us and wonder why we feel so sick.”Atticus
A Common Conversation
“What’s wrong?” he asks.
“Just tired.”, she replies. “Well, I’m just tired of being the fattest girl in the room.”
“But nobody else cares and everybody loves you just the way you are.”, he says.
“Yeah, I know. I guess I just wish that when I was skinny, I would have appreciated it more.”
To which he replies, “You mean when you were thin but just thought you were fat?”
Friends, that was a conversation I had with The Mister a couple of weeks ago. Getting and staying body positive is not without hiccups and backslides. It is for sure a journey, and I can’t say that will ever fully arrive, but I try to keep going after it. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t need to stop and redirect my thinking.
Important Note – Before anyone gets on a fat = unhealthy high-horse, understand that mental health is equally important (and sometimes more important) to physical health. I’m not saying that we should engage in harmful practices and eating habits. You can read more about my thoughts on all that here.
It’s All Mindset
That being said, after a week with my skinny sisters, sister-in-law, and brother, I generally need to reassess where I’m at and get myself off the slippery slope of self-pity to get back on a positive, forward-moving mindset.
If only we could simply remove negative thoughts from our minds, right? But it doesn’t work like that. I know I can’t be alone in my self-critical attitude, so I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I use to crowd out the inner mean girl with a little more Pollyanna.
Links for this look. Because you’ll ask!
WRAP wearing L/XL || JEANS wearing 18 || TEE wearing XXL || SHOES similar || WATCH || BELT similar; misses
*CHAIR (similar) is a Tommy Hilfiger Swivel Barrel Chair from TJ Maxx. I can’t find it to link it but they will occasionally still have them.
To Get Yourself Moving Forward on Your Body Positive Journey Again, consider:
1 – We’re in the Majority
The average woman is no longer a size 14. According to the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education, “The average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18.”
Somehow it makes me feel better to realize that I’m not alone. In a world where the Thin and Beautiful (Is that a TV show?) 😉 seemingly get put on pedestals as the ideal, so having an affirmation that we’re not abnormal is a bit of balm to our tender egos.
2 – Realize that Your Pants Size Determines NOTHING
When it comes to our self-worth, we should not use any number to measure our value, particularly our clothes’ size. I have written about this before. There is no size standard across the board with the fashion industry so judging our size based on that scale is not accurate.
In this article, the writers over at Byrdie address the issues this can cause the average size woman and why it needs to change so very well. At the very least, it’s another reason we shouldn’t let clothing size determine how you feel about yourself.
3 – Surround Yourself with Body-Positive People
Having a body-positive tribe almost goes without saying. However, people don’t have to be body negative to “harsh your jiggly jello mellow.”
I have people in my life who don’t necessarily talk negatively to me or about themselves. Still, they talk frequently about their size, the food they can and can’t eat, how bloated they are, etc. Having someone obsess over their skinny body around your fluffy one is akin to body-shamming. If you can’t avoid these conversations or maybe even the relationship altogether, limit the time you spend with them.
4 – Find Others Who Look Like You
If you must compare yourself to others, compare apples to apples, pears to pears, etc. Plug in curvy fashion, plus-size fashion, or full-figure fashion into your Pinterest search bar and be inspired by women who look like you. You’ll get more than fashion inspiration because you’ll hopefully see the potential you have just the way you are.
5 – Appreciate that Your Body is Exactly as God Intended
I couldn’t write this entire post without mentioning the verse, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” But really, consider how true this is.
My Fat Little Story
I’m not one of those fat girls who say, “I’ve had weight issues my entire life.” The truth is that I was pretty skinny, even when I didn’t think I was.
I weighed 118 pounds when I was pregnant with my second son. When my boys were in high school, I was one of the “hot moms” – I didn’t know this then. 😉 I was one of those people that lost weight when they were stressed.
But then, LIFE CHANGES! And even though I was walking everyday, sometimes with a weighted backpack, drinking ALL the water, being the person at the table changing the menu to meet “diet” standards, I couldn’t stop the scale from moving up and up and up.
Because around 2010/2012, my life became Extra with a capital “E.” Family, finances, health; you name it, it was out of wack. I had a summer that I cried Every. Single. Day. I bled Every. Single. Day. And we did not have an income for 12 straight weeks.
But the good news was, that when the smoke finally cleared, my lady bits had been removed, and I was getting my health in check, I found out that my adrenal glands were a wreck, as in, I had none.
Okay, I know you’re probably asking, “Paula, how is that good news?”
Instead of looking at my body as if it were broken, I see it as it did exactly what God created it to do. It survived! When it was stressed to the max, it kept pumping and pumping out cortisol and adrenaline and all the things that kept me upright.
Was I fatter? Yes. But, it’s not the worst thing that ever happened to me! Some of the things that I cried about were.
We have to believe that God created us with protection mechanisms, and one of those is holding onto fat. Sometimes that fat comes because we are allowed to seek comfort in food. He gives us all the right things.
But more often, some of our fluff comes because He perfectly designed our body to redirect vital energies toward survival. It may not look like how we think it should but God hasn’t broken what He Created.
I still think it’s a little unfair that some people can remain skinny their whole lives while others get fat. But just know that our bodies can do amazing things and thank God for them!
6 – Why Not Just Go on a Diet?
I can’t close out this article without addressing what some might be asking. Why don’t we just go on a diet to start “moving forward” and toward a thinner and healthier body?
Oh, sigh, again. Suppose it was only that easy? Well, let’s not dwell there.
I’d venture to say that most of us fluffy girls have gone the diet route and have tried and failed so often that we have decided life is too short to live continually thinking about food and exercise. At least that what “diets” do for me.
Chasing a number on the scale or the tag in our clothes to validate our self-worth is like aiming at a moving target. Happiness and even self-satisfaction can’t be based on something as temporal as our size, age, or appearance.
Those are elements of our life that continually change or could be changed by a single life event, sometimes entirely out of our hands. Basing happiness on the more profound things is a better life strategy!
7 – Focus on the Deeper Things
Let me end this post by saying that our bodies are a temple; not one to be worshiped but one that glorifies God. Yes, we are most certainly charged with its care and making healthy choices.
But, by concentrating such extreme devotion to thinking about our bodies, whether in love, hate, inordinate thought, excessive exercise, diets, or procedures, we are in the dangerous territory of making an idol of our body. Of course idols are not good in God’s eyes. (Exodus 20: 3-4)
Instead let’s focus on exchanging our negative body thoughts with those I’ve listed and choosing body positive friends. Also, continue to seek out scriptures to confirm what God says about us, and it will go a long way toward getting us back to moving toward body-positivity instead of away from it.
Check out this article from Deb at Count My Blessing for 3 Reasons You Need to Say, “I’m Beautiful.”
Do you have any advice about what helps you on your body positive journey? I’m all ears!
I’m crying. Your post came exactly one day after I spoke the same words to a friend of mine. Why can’t I accept who I am for who I am, not what I look like?? Why must I continually think I’m “less than” because I can’t stick to a diet and just BE DONE with my fat body?? I am so extremely hard on myself and I always have been. Yes, I can trace some of the voice in my head back to my childhood days and the comparisons made between me and my skinny, brainy sister. But I’m responsible for the voice in my head now- I’m the adult now, right?? Tears are flowing while I type…
Thank you, Paula, for sharing your story with me/us. I am grateful for God bringing you and your voice to me. I know this will continue to be a struggle for me, but as a grandmother of 3 beautiful grandkids (2 of them female), I want to show them, as they grow, that we are ALL worthy and lovable, no matter our size. And the best way to do that is to live my life happily and joyfully as an example for them to see. My daughter is doing a wonderful job of teaching the kids that lesson and I will continue to strive for that life for me.
Hugs and blessings to you,
Aww Donna… your tears bless me because I know God used me to speak HIS words to you! Yes, of course we have to have a self-dialogue in our heads. But when we use God’s idea of who we are as a filter, and rest in the knowledge that our bodies our created perfectly we can start to see ourselves with GRACE!
And anyway, WHY do we keep thinking skinnier is better?!?! Because the world says so. I see nowhere in the Word that God said anything about size. 😘
I’ll take that hug, and hug you right back!
THANK YOU!! I’ve actually printed out your post and I’m going to keep reading it until I can put my head in the place it should be!!!
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just “get it”. But it’s that journey and our brains are being jammed with so much opposing visual information that says otherwise.
You are truly a beautiful person inside and out! After reading your posts I always feel better about whatever is going on in life. I look forward to your outfits and how good you look. Very inspiring! Your family is very blessed!
That is the kindest thing to say! I’m really blessed by them too. They have never purposefully made me feel bad… it’s all my own thinking. 😁
Thank you for this post Paula. It came just when I needed it. I’m having a journey of health challenges: its one thing after another. First herniated disc in my back, then blood clots, then side effects from being on blood thinners, now going for tests to rule out cancer as a provoking cause for the clots….. Its a lot in 9 weeks. I let myself have a pity party and now focus on gratitude. I’m alive, I’m recovering, I can now walk without a walker (in my 40s, don’t have one usually), I can walk to my local park and listen to the birds sing…. And none of that matters to what number is on the scale. I would prefer to fit into a certain size but if I don’t, will focus on the positives and stop beating myself up for COVD 15 or whatever….. God is in charge and I will lay down my troubles to him. Thank you for sharing and opening up your personal journey with us. God bless!
Wow Alabama, that is a lot but God will bring you through and as you e a knowledges, He’s already carried you out this far! I consider us fortunate to already know that we can’t focus on the shallow, temporary, ever shifting appearance part of who we are. Sure, we love a good outfit, but true satisfaction is only in the deeper things. 😘
Prayers that all reports are good and for continued strength to see it through!
Been there done that, got a picture somewhere in the house!!! I do remember when I was recovering from a difficult knee surgery due to an auto accident. The Doctor said . . .”It’s a lucky thing you had some meat on the bones that made you survive the accident”. To this day I remind my Mom of that quote when she talks about my weight. Survival is the key to a long life and you are a Survivor my Dear. Let’s enjoy every moment. . . .
Agreed Neti! I have a friend whose mom is bone thin and elderly. We always think that one more “thing” could be the death of her because she can’t go any lower. I always say, you e gotta have a little extra so you have somewhere to go. 😄
Love ya Lady!
Oh Paula! I really wished we lived closer. I’d have you over for some pie…(Oh boy…did I just get myself in trouble? I love to bake. I also love to eat what I bake.) I will spare you all the details, but we have similar stories, concerns, issues, and, it sounds like, sweet husbands who listen to us and encourage us. I’m in the middle of a major move. MAJOR transitions. I just tried on my fall clothes before packing them and…guess what? They don’t fit! I threw away my “fat clothes” and now failure is staring at me in the face, spilling over my waistband, and shouting at me from ever mirror. Thank you for your words of kindness and wisdom. Thank you for pointing me to my Savior who knows me inside and out. Thank you for being a fellow traveler in this world that is not our home. Hugs from Texas!
Oh my Renee, buy a couple of pairs of bigger pants, eat that pie, and give yourself grace! Life will settle down but in the mean time could this be our “thorn in the flesh” that keeps us on our knees asking God to continue to show us who we are in HIM!
I wish I could eat that pie with you. 😘
Awesome post!! Thank you, thank you!! 😍
Thanks for sharing your story! I always love reading your posts as you have always some heartfelt wisdom to share!
Thank you Mireille. I hope these words will come back to you when you need them.
I understand. I look at the “fat” pictures in my early 30s and I think “What was I thinking?” There are lots of reasons why I struggle to this day with my body image. I haven’t dated post divorce because I feel no one will want me at this weight. I just fight those thoughts all the time.
Lovely, lovely post. Thank you so much!
Ah Paula, I know the struggle. I was a thumb sucker, and I’m a nail biter. I think I have an oral thing. I sure do like to eat! I can relate to this post on several levels. You’re a beautiful person! I feel I know this by your videos and blogs. I know you’re a blessing to others as well. God bless!
Don’t you wish you would’ve realized all this before that summer hit? So glad you had Jesus all along the way. Not fun gaining, but perspective is half the battle in my mind. Laurie travel tips
Exactly! I had gained and lost a couple of times before that. In fact, I had been doing weight watchers for 6 months or so before that “before selfie” was taken and had painstakingly lost 25 lbs. But then everything game to a screeching halt in May of 2012 and I’ve since not been able to loose but a few lbs here and there then gain those back and more. Hormone therapy, exercise, diet… have not yielded any results for my weight. It’s a hard lesson not only for self-acceptance at any size but to choose habits for your life not for weight loose. 😬
Yes! 100%!! As a nutritionist, I get so tired of the “diet culture”. Yes, we should eat to be healthy. That means nutrients to keep our body healthy, not a number on the scale or a number on your clothing label. And yes, we should celebrate life. It is ok to enjoy food. No, don’t eat the whole cake, but please enjoy a piece! And yes!!! Be happy and love your healthy body that serves you! Thank you for sharing this article! I absolutely love and enjoy your blog so much. And I think you are just as cute as a bug!
This is so good Paula….I think we have definitely had the “gee if I was only as fat as I thought I was when I was thin”…uggh. I have had to learn to love my body where it’s at and that can be so hard….I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have a few friends who are hardcore fitness buffs, and sometimes they unknowingly (or knowingly, I don’t know) make comments on their IG that can make it difficult to feel confident in the body I have. I work with a thinner, fit girl, and when I’m feelign vulnerable, I find myself spiraling into a comparison trap instead of celebrating where I am and how far I’ve come in my journey of my body.
Thanks for your transparancy and vulnerability.
It’s a tough trap to avoid. BTW, you look GREAT!
Love you Paula
My mother always said, ” you never see fat women in a singles bar. They always have a good looking man hanging on tbeir arm.”