After a conversation with a friend yesterday regarding body confidence, body size and body image, I have decided to revive a blog on this site that I wrote April, 2016. It is still incredibly relevant today, and is at the heart of what I do. It is my hope that people will read it and feel empowered by their own bodies, no matter their shape or size. It is one thing to want to improve ones health, something I greatly admire and try to achieve daily. But it is another thing to struggle daily to try to fit into a mold that is truly unattainable. Body love comes from within and is, in my opinion, the ultimate key to living a healthy lifestyle.
Earlier on in the week, I went through my closets and cleared out all my winter clothes and replaced them with summer ones. A bold move, to be sure in April in Canada, but I came across ones from years ago, when I was thinner. Some of them didn't fit me or didn't fit me as well as they used to.
I have done a lot of healing work with respect to my body image and I have squashed a lot of negative habits that were no longer serving me but it wasn’t always that way.
When I was in my teens and into my twenties I had major body image issues. I lost a lot of weight (around 60 lbs) and although it started out as a healthy venture, it quickly took a negative turn. I developed nasty habits that included eating only one meal a day, taking weight loss supplements, feeling guilty if I ate anything that I considered "bad" and even making myself sick to ‘not absorb calories’. I may have been thin but I was nowhere near healthy. I tried desperately to look like the women in the magazines, the girls from The Hills and my friends who were thin. Because I was losing weight, I was actually getting encouragement from my loved ones who had no idea that this wasn’t a healthy endeavor. I stayed this way for a while until one day these negative habits spiraled out of control to the point where I sought help.
I realized these behaviours had nothing do with food and everything to do with my feelings of self-worth. I believed that I wasn’t worthy of the good things in life unless I was skinny. Something I learned from the society I live in. When I came to the realization that my emotional wellbeing was at stake, I began to see a therapist and this is where my journey to loving myself began.
What I realized while I was sorting through my clothes is that I am not the same person I was all those years ago. The clothes not fitting as well didn’t really bother me. I have come a long way and healed a great deal. I eat 3 meals a day and have learned to love fruit and veggies. I am active regularly and I am gearing up to start weight training. I am kinder to my body now and don't abuse it. I am healthier even though I may not be smaller.
What does bother me is that potentially my feelings of unworthiness could have been avoided if society did a better job at supporting ‘healthier’ instead of ‘smaller’.
I am getting married in 5 months, so I am all about bridal magazines right now. But it kills me that women who are already very thin are made to look thinner. I still catch myself looking at women in the magazines and going “I wish I looked like that… Oh wait, they aren’t even real” and then I wonder what the beautiful woman behind the airbrushing really looks like. The women of today’s society are bombarded with images of unrealistic bodies. One of my favourite sayings about this is “So you want to look like the girl in the Magazine? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine”.
Comedian Amy Schumer appeared in Glamour magazine and was featured in their “plus size bonus issue”. Amy argues that the magazine made it appear that she was a ‘plus size model’… when she was neither plus size nor a model: “I’m a famous plus-size model,” Amy stated while on The Tonight Show but Amy was simply joking in announcing her fake title. Amy’s main concern was with labels like “plus size” and how magazines use them to categorize women incorrectly. She later writes: “I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me,” (Amy posted on Instagram, along with a photo of the Glamour page).
Amy is onto something. She is pointing out what is so incredibly wrong with society’s labels. Even at size 6-8, she is considered “big” in the eyes of the media and was featured as such in a magazine, giving readers the impression that in order to be worthy of a non-plus size spot, you have to be a size 0. Her value is placed on size and not health. It is this very notion that hurts a woman’s self-esteem. It is this feeling of being “unworthy” than fuels self-hate. It is this unrealistic ideal that forced me (and thousands of other women) into issues with poor body image that took years to break.
I for one would love to see a massive change in the industry- a shift of focus from people being labeled as “thin” and “plus size” to a focus on women’s health- what truly makes us healthy. We need to change the way society views our health and only in doing this can we change the way women view their bodies. Women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. You are beautiful and your health should be your top priority- this is the message we need to be teaching our daughters.
So I don't mind that my body is different, even though society would label me as "bigger" because, like Amy, I run about a size 8. I set my own standards with respect to my body. I am happier than I have ever been and I believe I am beautiful the way I am. Being smaller doesn't necessarily mean being healthier. And I want to change this notion within our society, one confident HEALTHY beautiful woman at a time.
 Source for quotes from Amy: http://hollywoodlife.com/2016/04/13/amy-schumer-disses-glamour-magazine-jimmy-fallon-plus-sized-model/