I love many qualities of my personality. I am confident that I am kind. I am sure that I am smart. I love that I try to go the extra mile for people I care for. I can cook just about anything and serve it to you with a smile. If I am selling something, you will buy it.
That’s as far as my self-love extended. For 25 years I did not love my body. I hated the body I called mine. I would have given the world to change it; and I did change it drastically by dropping almost 100 pounds. Losing weight did not make me love my body. A ‘miracle pill’ and a new pair of jeans did not make me love my body. If anything, truly loving my body happened almost by accident.
**Trigger warning for restrictive eaters**
After a period of bad health last year, I gained at least 25 pounds. I was the ultimate macro/calorie counter, but no matter how much I restricted myself, the weight crept up. I spent months obsessed over every pound and inch that glued itself to my form; the hate I directed towards myself grew exponentially with each trip to the bathroom scale.
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It wasn’t until one of my weekly therapy sessions that a casual remark from a professional latched itself to my consciousness and fundamentally changed me.
“If you ever talked to another person the way you talked to yourself, you would seem like a truly horrible person.”
That inner reflection that I was not the kind, caring person I so strived to be rocked me. I was AWFUL to myself; my sickeningly nasty beliefs about my body fed the cancerous thoughts that kept me from finding the love that every body deserves.
It was a trickle that became a waterfall. Every thought that would have previously derailed my day needed to be checked. I would ask myself:
“Would you ever say this to another person?”
“What would you do if you saw someone else talking to another person this way?”
“You would be a truly appalling human if you said this about another woman.”
I am constantly checking perceptions about my own body, and now that I’m an active part of the body positive community, I check my perceptions about other bodies as well. It’s easy to look at your own curvy body with cellulite and stretch marks and say, “My body deserves love!” It can be challenging to adjust that frame of reference to others: thin, fat, tall, short, disabled, men, people of all ages, etc. There is no ‘right’ body that deserves love; body positivity isn’t just for curvy women or plus size women, and sometimes is not just for women at all.
Learning to love my body, and affirming daily that all bodies merit acceptance and love is a journey 25 years in the making. I wish someone checked my perspective years ago so I could’ve denied that inner mean girl who refused me love for so long.
By: Hannah Foster