From Our Readers
July 26, 2016 5:23 pm

Every time I hear the phrase body positivity, I tend to shy away from it, to feel like it’s not for me.

The body positivity movement has helped to empower and encourage both men and women. I love seeing the incredible posts shared by people who have learned to embrace their bodies. But as much as I’m able to encourage others on their journey, I tend to remove myself from that achievement.

I have stopped thinking of body positivity as a single moment I’ll be able to accomplish in the future — as if I’ll wake up one day and finally be happy with the way I look. As if once I’ve reached my goal weight, then I can start to love my body.

That’s not how it works. Body positivity is a journey that requires daily reminders.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with low self esteem. I can even recall struggling back in my elementary school days. It’s absurd to me that, even at such a young age, I was already concerned with the way I looked and felt self-conscious about the clothes I wore. I think of young girls today and hope that is not also their experience, but unfortunately, I’m sure it is.

Why, as children, do we already have a sense of shame in how we look?

I was part of a video by YouTuber Alexandria Taylor, alongside many others, talking about body image and gender. Everyone had such insightful things to say, both about their own body image and about the societal expectations to look a certain way. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about my body — instead, I only talked about my face. Upon recording the video, I realized I was not comfortable talking about my body. But why?

Sure, I’m a pretty reserved person and don’t openly discuss personal issues — but I had volunteered to do that exact thing and couldn’t even directly address the prompt.

Part of my journey is learning to be able to talk about my body and not feel ashamed.

It’s tough to admit, especially as someone who aspires to be a body positive person, but not talking is due to not being happy with my body. I admit that to myself on a daily basis in negative, passive ways. I do it when I compare my appearance to others, deciding I’m not as pretty. I do it when I catch my reflection and I am upset with what I see. Even in these quick, small instances of putting myself down, it furthers me from being on the right track of body positivity.

Musician and YouTuber Meghan Tonjes has been open about her own body positivity journey, starting the hashtag #BootyRevolution. She’s been open about her highs and lows, and that vulnerability has helped to empower many people to share their own stories.

Tonjes helps you learn to love the skin you’re in, to be happy despite the media saying you can only be happy if you are a certain size.  Tonjes helped me start to love the skin I am in. She posted an amazing video about wearing crop tops that made me realize how often I let my wardrobe be dictated by other people.

Body positivity isn’t loving the body you wish you had, it’s loving the body you have now.

I have started to do daily (well, almost daily) affirmations about loving myself. I don’t always believe what I’m saying, but I know that’s when I need to hear it the most. Even the cheesiest of affirmations can help to change a pattern of negativity.

It’s not an easy journey, but I’m encouraged by the many stories of people on the same path — I know I’m not alone in this process.

That’s been the biggest affirmation of all — knowing I’m not alone. Having solidarity in the body positivity movement only continues to inspire me.

I’m not there yet, but as long as I keep trying, then I’m at least closer than I was yesterday.

Yolanda Rodriguez is a writer and social media manager in California. When she’s not on social media, she enjoys watching the same pug video over and over. She also enjoys discussing diversity and intersectional feminism. You can find her on Twitter and YouTube.
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