Having a positive body image can be a challenge when you’re a plus size woman. Everywhere we look, we’re sent a message that we’re too big. That we’re unattractive. That if we just worked hard enough, we’d look like a movie star.
That’s crap. And you don’t have to feel that way anymore.
In this video, I cover my 10 Be-You-titudes for maintaining a positive body image. I first recorded this video as a Facebook Live, at the request of my awesome Plus Size Nerds Facebook group. I don’t normally talk about “woo woo” stuff. But they wanted it, so they got it. (Download a poster of the 10 Be-You-titudes to remind yourself daily.)
Watch the full video, or scroll down to read a synopsis, along with time stamps if you want to skip ahead in the video.
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How to Get (and Keep) a Positive Body Image
How do you maintain a positive body image when you’re plus size? How do you do it? And if you are able to maintain a positive body image, what will that do for you and your life?
1:15 Childhood through adulthood
I became aware of having a negative body image around fifth or sixth grade. I was an early bloomer. I got my period at 10 years-old. So, I had the body of a woman pretty early, certainly a lot earlier than most of the girls I went to school with. That had a big impact on me.
There were other factors that had a big impact on me too. But I really, really struggled with how I felt about myself, how I felt about my looks, for most of my life. Certainly in my teens, then most of my adulthood.
5:34 Body image then and now
I used to do all kinds of crazy stuff to try to change my shape and my size because I hated the way I looked. I hated how big I was. However, I was a Size 8 at the time. Do you know what I would give to be a Size 8 right now?
Let’s talk about that for a second. Here’s the irony: I was frickin’ gorgeous, beautiful and thought I was the fattiest fat-fat on the planet. Today — I’m not going to call myself fat, I don’t like that word — I’m bigger than the doctors would like me to be, but I think I’m awesome. I think I’m hot. I think I look good every time I walk out of the house.
How did that happen? That just proves that 99.9% of [your body image] is [in your head] and not [your body]. It’s not what you’re seeing in the mirror. It’s what you’re seeing in [your head] and how you feel about it.
6:20 10 Be-You-titudes
I’m going to share with you 10 Be-You-titudes that I came up with for getting and keeping a positive body image.
7:15 #1 Your body is a vehicle, not an ornament
Your body isn’t here just to look good. Your body isn’t here as a decoration. Your body is here to get you across this globe. Your body is here to lift things, to push things, to work, to have fun, to bear babies, to feed babies. Your body is not an ornament. It’s a vehicle.
8:56 #2 Own your body type
I am big-chested. When I was younger, I hid my figure. I would wear baggy, baggy, baggy shirts and jackets and sweatshirts. I didn’t want anyone seeing my body. If I had only known! Because when I did wear stuff that fit, people were like, damn, you look good! They could see the rest of me, that I wasn’t a beach ball.
Now though I have this desire to show [my body] off, because when I wear something that actually shows how big my chest is, it also shows how small my waist is in comparison.
When you’re trying to hide your body, you look worse. If you have giant boobs, show those puppies off. If you have smaller breasts and you’ve got a lot of junk in the trunk, get those jeans out, grrl!
When you own [your body type] and you wear clothes that fit you and make you feel good about yourself, you could own this world.
11:05 #3 Do things that you’re good at
Do things that you’re good at because it will make you feel good about yourself. It’s an ego boost. Don’t beat yourself up by trying to do things that you’re not good at.
You can be in [your head] saying that you’re kicking everybody else’s ass, ’cause you’re the best one in the room. Nobody needs to know, right?
Invest in yourself. Invest the time to feel good when you’re doing stuff you’re good at.
13:47 #4 Get self-righteous
Life is too short to let everyone else walk all over you or think they’re better than you or whatever.
What do I mean by get self-righteous? I’m not talking religiously. This is one of the things that helps keep me from eating when I shouldn’t, or eating things that aren’t going to be great for my blood sugar when I’m out at a restaurant with friends, when I’m at a party, when I’m in any kind of situation where there are other people around. When I say no to something, I feel pretty damn good about myself compared to everybody else around me.
I don’t want to say I feel better than my friends, like I’m better than them, but I let a little bit of that come in because it helps me not eat the stuff I shouldn’t eat. It’s a little pat on the back to myself and it fuels my willpower.
16:02 #5 Always remember that there is a genetic lottery
Always remember that there is a genetic lottery and some of us win and some of us don’t. Don’t be fooled by people like Jillian Michaels.
A lot of my friends beat themselves up after watching Jennifer Lopez during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Beyond J-Lo, having a professional chef, gazillions of trainers, people making room in her schedule so that she can do what she needs to do, plastic surgery, nutritionists, whatever… She won the frickin’ genetic lottery.
You cannot compare yourself to people who win the genetic lottery. You’ll never be them, but even more importantly, they’ll never be you.
The next time you’re standing in the checkout line and you’re feeling bad about yourself because of some hot celeb is on the cover of Cosmo or whatever magazine is there, take a look around that grocery store and try to find somebody else that looks like that. You won’t [find them], ’cause that celeb won the genetic lottery. And there may be Photoshopping involved. So, stop comparing yourself to them.
See also: Deciding to Buy a Mobility Scooter
18:46 #6 Wear what works for you
I don’t care what’s trendy. I don’t care if all of your friends tell you to wear something. If wearing something not trendy makes you feel good, wear it. Ignore everything else. (Check out The Art of Dressing Curves: The Best-Kept Secrets of a Fashion Stylist for style tips for plus size women. It’s an awesome book.)
19:50 #7 Beware the media
This is something that you already know, but the media sends us horrible messages, negative messages, about the way we look because they want to make money. They’re trying to sell stuff, man, so they’re going to play on your insecurities.
What’s the media? TV shows and movies — not just commercials — magazines. What are you watching? What are you paying attention to?
Where are you investing your time? Are you investing your time reading Cosmo with all those skinny people in it? Or are you reading Plus Model Mag with plus size women in it? Are you following Khloe Kardashian on Instagram? Or are you following The Curvy Fashionista?
What you watch on any screen is going to affect how you feel. Go on a diet of crap media, then watch and follow stuff that makes you feel good. I have a whole list of things.
The more you feed yourself those images and messages, the more you’re going to feel like you’re not the only one who’s not skinny. You won’t feel like you’re the only one who isn’t working hard enough. You will feel like you belong on this planet.
Stop watching that garbage. Stop watching Biggest Loser and makeover shows and My 600-Pound Life. Start watching things that feed and soothe and make you feel good about life.
23:19 #8 Curate your tribe
Just like the media can affect your brain and your feelings, your heart, your soul, the people around you can too. And that includes family, which can be really hard, I know.
Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, not hold you back. Be with people who get you and will feed that positive nature for you.
25:02 #9 Is it a mountain or a molehill?
I agonized about what I looked like until I had children. I got so busy taking care of my children that the rest of that kind of went away.
My life, my family, my career became so all-consuming that I didn’t have time or brain power to beat myself up about my body anymore. It became a nonissue.
Take a step back at some point — maybe journaling would help — and think about, what’s truly important in your life? What’s truly going to impact you and what is obsessing over your body image going to get you?]
If I had kept paying attention to how bad I thought looked, instead of the incredible things that my children were doing, where would I be? What would that say about me? Is it a mountain or is it a molehill? Put it in perspective.
27:19 #10 Tell yourself a new story
How we feel about ourselves and our body image comes from how we were raised, what the people around us said and did. My childhood was filled with landmines. Mine was not healthy at all and I’m still fighting a lot of that stuff to this day.
At some point, however, you have to know it’s not their fault anymore. You need to tell yourself a new story.
When I find myself getting trapped in negative thinking, and I can hear the voices from the past beating me up, I stop and say, tell yourself a new story. My new story is that I’m awesome, that I have an incredible husband who loves me (and thinks I’m crazy hot!), that I have beautiful children, and that those people don’t own me anymore. Tell yourself a new story.
Got a positive body image?
I hope that using some of these strategies, these 10 Be-Youtitudes, will have you feeling good about yourself. I will cheer you on every step of the way.
Download these 10 Be-You-titudes on an 8.5″ x 11″ poster. Hang it up somewhere handy to remind yourself how beautiful you are.