Body Positivity: Truth, Fear, & Judgment

I’ve written about being fat before. I was angry because I had only just learned that I don’t have to hate myself or my body for being fat. I was angry because I felt like the world had been feeding me lies for my entire life.

I’m still a little angry, but not as angry as I was. I want to talk about how body image is more than just “love your flaws”.

Here’s a question: why does it matter what our bodies look like? What is the function of our bodies? Our bodies do not exist for the viewing pleasure of other people. That is not why we have bodies. We have bodies because we need something to hold our souls and our minds. We need a vehicle to move through this world in. We don’t have bodies so they can look nice for people. I really think if that was the case, we would’ve been created with eyestalks so that we could look at ourselves easier. (Not that I think snails or crabs have eyestalks for this reason, but you get my drift.)

Here is something else: it is not easy to start loving something you have been taught to hate. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, “You know what? I love my fat! I love my acne! I love my crooked nose!” It doesn’t work like that. You have to be honest with yourself. These things are so ingrained in us, I think most of us don’t realize we’re even doing it.

The first step is realizing that you don’t have to hate your body. The first step is to realize that your body was designed to take care of you. And everything it does, it’s doing it because it’s trying to keep you alive. That’s what our bodies were made to do. They have programming left over from when food was hard to come by. Nowadays, food is everywhere if you live in America. But our bodies are still afraid of famine, so they hold onto it, just in case. They’re trying to protect us.

The second step is doing all those things that you’re afraid of. This goes for more than just body image, of course. If you don’t like the way you look in shorts, wear shorts. Wear the hell out of those shorts. And when it doesn’t kill you, when it actually makes you feel more comfortable in hot weather, when it makes you feel free, then you will have the confidence to do it again. You can’t build confidence by doing nothing or just by thinking about it. You have to do the thing you fear.

The third step is to stop judging. I see a lot of “who cares what other people think!” type of stuff and while that’s really a great sentiment, let’s be real. We obviously care. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be an issue. The real problem is that other people are making judgments about you and most of the time, they are uninformed. Most of the time, they don’t even know your name. They look at you and they judge you based on appearance alone. And usually, their judgments come from a place of shame and fear.

So start with you. Don’t judge people. Easier said than done, right? We judge people instantly and this, too, is left over from our bodies not keeping up with our changing world. We’re made to do this kind of thing in order to survive. But you have to train yourself to stop. Because guess what? That fat girl standing a couple feet from you is not a threat. You don’t need to protect yourself from her, so there’s no reason to judge her at all.

I’ve been trying really hard to do this in many ways. I used to judge myself by saying, “Why can’t I do *this thing*? Everybody else has no problem doing *this thing*!” And then I’d stop and say, “Wait. How do I know that? Do I know everybody else? Do I know anything about how everybody else handles *this thing*? No.” Another situation I’ve been doing this with is in the car. When someone does something stupid, my instant reaction is, “Idiot! What a jerk!!” Then I stop and say, “Wait. I’ve done that totally by accident. That person probably didn’t mean to do it.”

Everybody makes mistakes. Ain’t nobody perfect. And I’m dang grateful for that ’cause how booooooring would we all be if we all had the same perfect bodies and lived the same perfect lives. SNORE.

In summary, your body is trying to keep you alive, do the things you fear, and stop judging peeps. Loving yourself is not easy. It’s not going to just click one day and then BAM SELF LOVE ALL OVER DA PLACE. It’s a journey. Just like everything else in life. So I’m gonna leave you with my favorite quote ever, from my favorite haiku poet:

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Matsuo Basho

Also here are some amazing body image related Ted Talks:

The Amazing Totally Cheap Miracle Cure!

Are you feeling down? Is life just not what you always thought it would be? Do you feel like there’s got to be some magic switch to make everything better?

GUESS WHAT THERE IS!

AND WE’RE GONNA SELL IT TO YOU FOR THE MEASLY SUM OF ONE TRILLION DOLLARS! YOU LUCKY DOG!

*cough cough*

Sorry, sorry. I got into Crazy Infomercial Announcer mode.

When you start to feel like you’re doing Life wrong, what do you do? You look for a Quick Fix. That’s just our culture. We want everything and we want it right the hell now.

Not too long ago, I was in that state of doubt. I wanted to know what I had to do to make all of my dreams come true. I mean, I was thirty already! Shouldn’t my dreams have come true by now? Clearly, I was living life wrong somehow. I needed to find the Mysterious Key that would unlock the Dreams Come True Achievement.

Since I don’t like talking to people, I turned to books because of course I did. What genre do you read to find the Cure? Self Help, naturally.

I was convinced it had something to do with how I was thinking. How does one think correctly?

As it turns out, all the Books had to tell me was that I should love myself. Easier said than done. Their suggestion for making myself love myself was affirmations. Basically, tell yourself you love yourself all the time every day until it’s true.

I’m sorry, but that mess just did not work for me.

It’s almost heartbreaking for me to admit that reading a book did not solve my problem.

Only now do I realize that reading books did not solve my problem because those books were not the Truth I was searching for.

Maybe those were the Truths some other people have sought. But not I. I was looking for something else. I was waiting for that AHA moment. It never really showed up, but I slowly worked myself to the YEAH, OKAY moment.

So I’m here to dish out the Miracle Cure you’ve all been searching for.

Ready?

Here it is:

You are flawed. You will always be flawed. Your flaws are why people love you.

That’s it.

Yeah, I know it’s anticlimactic. I am extremely disappointed about the lack of magic spells and fairy dust. However, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the answer is about ONE TRILLION times simpler than you think. The problem with those self-help books telling you to love yourself is that they never address the fact that you need to love your flaws, too.

The thing you’ve been missing is simply the realization that you are not missing anything. Your flaws, your uncertainty, your searching hands in the darkness, these are the things that create you. Most often, these are the things people love about you.

The magic spell is acceptance. Accept yourself the way you are, right now, in this moment. Maybe you don’t have the high paying job you want. Maybe you have a tendency to overthink things to the point of causing yourself to have a panic attack. Maybe you don’t floss. It’s okay. It’s okay to love and accept these things about yourself. It won’t always be this way. Life is always changing. You need to let go of your expectations and allow yourself to be. The past taught and shaped you, but you don’t need to live there. The future is unknown and you don’t need to live there, either. You need to live right now. You need to love this moment. You need to love the fact that you are alive.

You don’t need a miracle cure because you are the miracle, exactly the way you are.

Why I’m Not Taking the Goodreads Challenge

Ahhh, a new year! The perfect time to COMMIT TO EVERYTHING including lofty reading goals!

For the past three years, I have signed up for the Goodreads challenge. For the unaware, this is where you choose a certain number of books that you plan to read for that year. Doesn’t matter which books or anything, all you choose is the number. Then you track the books on Goodreads as you read them so you can see how close you are to your goal.

I reached my goals, but the problem I noticed is that I would avoid BIG THICK BOOKS because I knew it would take me way too long to read them. My fifty book goal would be at two by the middle of the year. That is no good. A thousand page book and a twenty page book both equal one book.

As a Nerdy Nerd, I like to read fantasy books. And fantasy books tend to come only in Medium (400-600 pages) and Large (800-1500 pages). And that’s just the first book of the Trilogy, Quartet, or Series (which also only comes in Medium (5 books) and Large (20 books)).

So I decided this is the YEAR OF THE FANTASY EPIC which is really just LET’S SEE HOW MANY FAT BOOKS I CAN TAKE OUT IN ONE YEAR IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE MAYBE TWO.

I thought about making my Goodreads challenge two books this year, but I thought that might hurt my Internet Literary Nerd Cred, so I decided against it. Instead, I’m writing this ridiculous blog post about it.

First up on the list? The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. I know, right? How can I possibly call myself a Lord of the Rings fan if I haven’t read that one? I’ve had a copy of it on my shelf for at least three years. I got a really cool old version with a beautiful cover from a used bookstore for cheap. I get excited about this kind of thing, don’t judge.

Anyway, I have to finish the two books I already started last year first and then I shall begin the epic tome. I have a list, but it’s not in order since I’ll likely just choose whatever I want from it as I go, but I have A Game of Thrones on there, too. It’s been on my Kindle for at least six years.

I have a couple on there that aren’t technically considered fantasy, though it seems 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a bit genre-defying and could be categorized as such.

TRUTH: I am a slow reader.

I like to take my time and really immerse myself in what I’m reading, which is why it takes me much longer to read books than peeps might think.

So wish me luck, fair blog reader. If I complete The Silmarillion only, I will consider it a success. I guess we’ll see how often I get caught up in Japanese and Korean food dramas on Netflix. ‘Cause it’s been a lot lately. OOPS.