What If Body Positivity Sometimes Makes Me Feel Negative?
Body positivity is a big and beautiful thing, empowering women and men around the world to truly love themselves and not feel imperfect because of their variations in colour, size, height, shape and abilities.
But what if you do love yourself, but still want to change your body? One of our Strong Women Squad members, who wishes to remain anonymous, discusses the guilt and discomfort she feels because she wants to lose weight at a time when dieting is a naughty word?
What if body positivity sometimes makes me feel negative?
by Strong Women Squad member, Anonymous
I love the idea of body positivity. I love the idea of people adoring and accepting their bodies whatever their shape or size. Believe me, I’m 100% on board with the body positivity movement. I am not going to pretend I love every part of me but there are things I like about myself and I am able to see my good points. The trouble is, what I read about body positivity often ends up making me feel negatively about myself and my choices.
I’m very overweight. Doctors try and weigh me regardless of why I have gone for an appointment. I say try because I sometimes refuse if it isn’t relevant to why I have made an appointment but more often than not because I can tell them my exact weight because I am currently following a diet. From here on in I will call it a plan because whilst it might seem pedantic to call it plan and not diet, the word diet is so emotive that to me it isn’t useful. It immediately conjures up images of restriction and saying “no” to everything that we in fact want to say “yes” to. I don’t feel like that on my current plan. I don’t feel restricted, I feel in control.
Through reading body positive articles I have heard a lot about the evils of the diet culture that we have grown up with and how these plans aren’t meant to work long term because they want our repeat business. But I need to lose weight not because I want to fit into smaller clothes, but for my health. I won’t go into details but it is crucial for several different health related reasons that I lose weight. It isn’t about me hating the way I look. I’ve tried by myself but I respond better to the structure of a plan and to the support and motivation of attending a weekly group. I like certificates and stickers, I can’t lie. Maybe it’s because I am significantly overweight and I didn’t become this way overnight, but I can’t yet listen instinctively to my body and successfully do this. In honesty, eating so unhealthily for so long I don’t think my body knows anymore what it naturally wants and needs. Maybe in time, but for now my plan is working for me.
Body autonomy is part of body positivity. It is written loud and proud that you should do you. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you feel good. Follow your path. Don’t diet, listen to your body. But how can my path of following a well-known plan and paying to be weighed weekly marry up with this when a constant message is “Don’t follow a diet.” I often feel like I am letting the side down by being a member of a weight loss group. By trying to actively change myself it implies I am not accepting myself. I don’t for a second think anyone intends to make anyone feel ashamed for following a plan but I do feel somewhat flawed when I read how these plans are preying on my self-hatred and keeping me hooked by feeding my negative thoughts about myself.
It’s not. It’s helping me be kind to myself and focus on what I can do and what I am doing. It’s already had a positive effect on my wellbeing. I will continue with my plan and I will continue to read and follow the body positivity movement and one day I hope the two will be harmonious in my mind.