“The Body Positive Movement is a feminist movement that encourages women and/or female-identifying people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being.”

– The Body Positive Organisation 

I remember a particular moment when I was young – around 13 years old. It was summer, and I was sitting down in my characteristically ungraceful way, when I suddenly felt a sense of absolute horror at the way my thighs filled the seat when I sat down. Why do they look like that? The ladies on TV and in magazines didn’t have legs that did that. Look at them! They’re huge (they weren’t). I must be fat. I’m definitely fat and ugly. That’s why that boy in class doesn’t like me. And my TEETH – they’re not straight enough! Oh my God this is a disaster. My hair never looks right either. I don’t want to go to the beach with the boys, my tummy has rolls when I sit down! 

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 9.37.46 PM
Above image is not the same Kelly I’ve just described

And then came the inevitable comparison against my friends’ bodies (especially the petite ones), not just that day but for quite a few years to come. The thing is that, despite being a healthy weight for my age and height, I’d repeatedly find myself staring at my reflection and sucking my stomach in to see what I’d look like, or physically flattening my stomach to see how it must feel to look like girls ‘should’ look. This sort of thing happened for years and year and influenced what I wore, how I felt and to a certain extent, how I acted.

It’s only around 3 years ago that I slowly started pulling myself out of this damaging yet widespread mindset. I did start exercising regularly (later taking up kick boxing), and that did help me feel better about my body, but losing weight didn’t necessarily mean that I felt positive about how I looked. I could wear the clothes I wanted to wear, and shopping completely stopped feeling like a trial by fire in the changing room. There was still, however, that obsession with sucking it in and comparing myself to the other beautiful women around me.

Enter, BodyPosiPanda – aka the stunning and vibrantly-coloured Megan Jayne Crabbe. I don’t know how I discovered her on Instagram, but I’m glad I did; she describes herself as a ‘body positive feminist ed warrior’ – and she certainly is. I’ve learnt to be kind to myself and be positive about my body; to change the horrible things being said in that inner-monologue. To resist looking at myself through the eyes of someone being paid to photoshop the hell out of an image of a woman into what society has taught us is right.   We are so much more than numbers on a scale, or calories in a chocolate bar. Be healthy, but also be happy. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s the outfits I didn’t wear and the time I spent agonising over bits of my body that I had been taught to hate and wished I could just cut out with a big pair of scissors.

WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT REAL BODIES LOOK LIKE ANYMORE. And no, not real as in 'REAL women have curves' (screw that body shaming bullshit, all women are real). Real as in RAW, unedited, unposed, unairbrushed, REAL. Bodies from all angles, not just the most 'flattering' ones. We see so many painstakingly posed professional model bodies that we start to see our own as flawed. Abnormal. Ugly. But there really is no wrong way to have a body, despite what we've all been taught. Whenever I post anything celebrating my belly rolls there's an army of body shamers ready to tell me that I'm hideous, unhealthy, unworthy. But guess what? MOST WOMEN HAVE BELLY ROLLS WHEN THEY SIT DOWN. As well as cellulite on their thighs, bags under their eyes, scars and blemishes and a million other 'imperfections' we've learned to see as problems. Our ideas about bodies are so warped that most people would praise the girl on the left and condemn the girl on the right, without realising that we're one and the same. Well, I've worked damn hard to love the body in both these pictures, and I won't let the world paint my unique features as flaws to be fixed. So this is my message to you – you are worthy of self love at any angle. You are beautiful posed or not. You deserve to embrace every part of yourself. And you are so much more than a body. 💜💙💚🌈🌞

A post shared by Megan Jayne Crabbe 🐼 (@bodyposipanda) on

 

That’s why I want need to share this with you – because we need body positivity to be everywhere, and this is just how I’d like to do my bit. Do follow bodyposipanda and spread the body-posi-love.

Kelly

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