She doesn’t like you because you’re fat. If you were smaller, you would feel more comfortable at this party. These type of thoughts were common for me—and just about drove me nuts—before I made the mindset shift from trying to be SKINNY to trying to be HEALTHY.
I’m comfortable in my skin now but to get there I've had to change some minds, mainly my own. Working in fashion and being the biggest girl in the room for a decade contributed to why I simply felt out of place all the time. For the most part, I couldn’t wear the clothes most of my peers wore, and I always had to find a way to work around it to stay on trend. I believed it was the size of my thighs that made me feel so uncomfortable all the time, but it was my own energy. My thighs are probably even bigger than they used to be, but now I’m one of the most confident people in the room because I’m choosing to be that way.
Once I was able to turn down the self-hate and turn up the self-love, everything started clicking into place for me, including my career as a plus-size blogger. I’ve been a passionate supporter of the body positivity movement ever since, so I’m as excited as anyone that it's hit the mainstream and things are starting to change. We’re seeing media outlets adopting a more inclusive approach, fashion brands starting to think outside the box, and retailers discovering that women exist beyond a size 10.
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It’s all very encouraging, but more and more I’m seeing that it’s not the whole picture. While the fashion world and the media are now celebrating a diverse range of body types, many women don’t have the first idea how to love their own bodies, whatever their shape or size. I know, because that used to be me.
Since starting The 12ish Style, I’ve heard from lots of women who fall into this camp. So often on my feed I get comments from women saying they wish they had more confidence. Sometimes I even hear that body positivity can be just another thing that makes women feel inadequate. Like, “I don’t love my thighs; what’s wrong with me?!”
Despite how well intentioned it is, the truth is that body positivity can also feel unattainable (ironic, I know!). Sometimes the nuance gets lost—maybe it’s not about loving your thighs, just about hating them a little less?—and sometimes it feels like a whole lot of easier-said than-done. And for lots of us, it’s something we have to actively work on and train our brains to do.
Wherever you fall on the self-acceptance scale, know that there is plenty of space in between cringing while looking in the mirror and posting yourself in a bikini on Instagram. Keep reading for a few tips that have worked for me on how to dial up the love!
Stop being so hard on yourself
Identify what your negative mental ticker tape is saying and address it. If you’re always beating yourself up about having gained ten pounds that realistically isn’t going anywhere, maybe just start to say it’s ok that it’s there. Change your ticker tape to the things you enjoy in life and try that on for a while.
Recognize that your body is getting the job done
What are you telling yourself you hate? Your thighs? Your arms? Make peace with those body parts. Your legs are strong and allow you to walk. Your arms allow you to hug and lift. Start to appreciate the physicality of your body instead of picking it apart. Once I heard Ashley Graham say that she talks to her cellulite. She says, “I see you...and you are kicking...but I look good.”
Wear something on your “no” list
One of the other things I hear so often from women is that they tried something they never thought they could wear and ended up loving it. Whether it be shorts, colors, prints or mini skirts, many of us have adopted a "No I Can’t" attitude when it comes to clothing. Black only. Stretchy. Safe. But when you give yourself the opportunity to try new things, often times new found confidence can accompany it.
Don’t get hung up on a number
I hear so many stories about ladies cutting tags out of clothing because they had to buy a size up or refusing to purchase the size that fits because it doesn’t match a number in their head. A number on the scale or on a tag means nothing. Do you feel good? Are you healthy? Let it go!
Keep it neutral
If you can’t write your body a love letter just yet, move toward body neutrality. What’s that? You don’t have to say anything overly positive about yourself (I love my thighs!) but don’t talk shit to yourself in the mirror either. "I like this dress, the colors are great." End the convo there.