The year was 1989. On the cover of my Seventeen magazine was Niki Taylor. She was only 14 at the time. She was also on the cover many more times and I thought she was beautiful. Who the heck looked like that at 14/15 years old? Not me, that’s for certain.
I wonder at what age it started. I remember being slim, but always athletic built. I was a ballerina, the shortest there was I felt like with muscular thighs, not slim thighs. I did get the usual teen magazines back then, but remember, we didn’t have social media so the people in the magazines felt untouchable. >> Little did I know they were touched up because we didn’t know much about that back then. Only in 2012 did Seventeen Magazine agree to stop airbrushing models, and they have been around since 1944! Your mom and grandma probably also thought those girls were natural looking.
It wasn’t until 2016 that Sports Illustrated featured a plus-sized model on the cover of their annual swimsuit edition and that Miss Teen USA ditched their swimsuit competition. No wonder I grew up thinking I had to hide my body. I thought my thighs were not slim enough and if any skin hung over my bathing suit bottoms, I thought I had a pooch. Oh to have that “pooch” now.
I had this conversation with someone else who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and I said, look, we just didn’t have the kind of conversations with our girlfriends like today’s girls are having. But to be honest, look what our mothers/grandmothers were told. From Seventeen Magazine in 1961: “Science confuses you, and math? Strictly for boys!”, “You’d like to marry young — and you probably will” and, “You wish you knew an older man with a mustache.” << And that my friends, was in print.
So why did I include all of this? To cut you some slack if you have been struggling with this for years. It really is only a very recent movement to actually learn to LOVE your body the way it is. For my men readers, I want you to know something as well. If I have to hear “man up” on a movie, I get a bit mad. You also have had your own struggles with emotions, and how to act. I see this as well and you do struggle with body positivity from a different perspective. So now, how do we move forward from whatever we have been told, or see even on today’s social media?
Body Positivity Means What Exactly?
All human beings are entitled to feel comfortable in their own skin. That’s it in a nutshell for me. Society views the physical body one way, and you see judgements out there on social media and body shaming for too “fat” and too “thin” as many movie stars, artists and more have to deal with on a constant basis (look at Adele’s recent weight loss for one example).
5 Ways to Practice Body Positivity
- Don’t allow social media to tell you what size you should be. I think it’s important to remember you are doing this for you, and no one else. I applauded the postcard my girls received from Aerie. I did a double take. I saw cellulite on the girl’s thighs and it was not airbrushed. They started a campaign using regular-looking models in 2014 and it felt like a breath of fresh air. They began no air-brushing and more of us should do the same on social media. Sure, filters are fun. Use them and feel great when you want to…but if you want to post a photo that’s no make-up, no filter, please do.
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up. I am in several women’s groups and run my own. If you want to post your workout selfie looking like you actually just worked out, PLEASE do that. Don’t feel like you have to look fresh and like you didn’t sweat at all. Surround your social media with like-minded folks. All shapes, sizes, and skin tones showing everyone how they do things. I don’t get political on my Instagram and I follow those souls that lift me up. I want happiness in my feed.
- Stop the judgement on yourself and others. This one is very hard to do because we have been taught (see all of the above) to think a certain way. Un-program that from your thoughts. Post the selfie that shows you looking tired. Post it with dark bags. I LOVE a certain person and many people hate on her feed. Does she have some gorgeous, probably filtered, and possibly air-brushed photos? I don’t know. I DO know she posts her after work-out sweaty photos and when people leave nasty comments about her dark circles she says she has always had them and this is HER REAL face without her make-up team. So while she does post some that others might prefer, I prefer her real photos. I am a fan of Autumn Calabrese. Just saying.
- Do it today and stop waiting for tomorrow. There is no such thing as the perfect time to start working on yourself. There is now and there is too late. Start now. Motivation is sometimes overrated because we just have to put those clothes on and go. Right now, I am pressing play on my workouts because things are closed. I do my own yoga since I am a yoga instructor and I do workouts with Autumn. One of my favorite people on her workouts happens to be a guy who looks like he is dying because that was me starting the workouts. It was also the mom wearing the tank top instead of feeling comfortable in her sports bra. Comfort took time for her and it reminded me of me (also I’m not affiliated with these folks at all, just honestly liked the realness of them). I would say to myself if they got through it, so can I.
- Take risks and invest in yourself. I bought several at-home workouts because I wasn’t sure which one I would stick too. It was a risk as I had previously had a narrative saying I wouldn’t follow through. I made that a lie and changed everything I once did. I followed through for 80 days and even changed my eating. Since we are in a different time now from the first time I did that, I gave myself grace. I do not follow the eating as much as before now, but I do make myself a commitment. Put on those workout clothes and do not talk yourself out of working out.
I once gave myself plenty of excuses. I am in pain (I was for 5 years). I can’t bend like that (yoga taught me I could actually become more flexible). I can’t stick to a routine (I did and have). I was diagnosed once with 7 diseases and while technically I still have 4 of those because they were genetic, I pushed them back with hard work.
After my emergency c-section, I gave myself lots of excuses and was also in pain for many years in my abdomen and then had to have that opened back up and looked at and re-structured. Images don’t tell you what a person is going though. Switch your perspective from a place of “I feel heavy…or too thin” to a place of “My body is changing daily and I am learning to love it.”
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