As some of you already know about me- and for the few who don't know this about me- I lost a lot of weight a couple of years ago. More relevant, though, was that I had a very active weight loss tumblr where I talked about my weight loss and fitness endeavors and helped people understand how to healthily lose weight. While my primary focus in blogging has shifted from weight loss to fashion and positive body image, I won't ever delete that blog or cease helping people learn how to lose weight or get into fitness.
|My before/after picture that is circulating the internet.|
When I first started up my weight loss tumblr, it was because I wanted to share my knowledge and give back to the community. I also feel very validated in helping people feel good about themselves, so naturally, the blog was a good way to accomplish feeling like a helpful human being. It was probably less than half a year ago, though, when I realized the weight loss and fitness community could be a really negative and hurtful thing. I noticed people putting down their bodies as means of motivation, or beating themselves up for "slipping up" and living a little. And to be honest, those posts influenced me negatively too, and indirectly made me see myself a little differently. I tried to offset the negativity by posting more body-positive things mixed in with my normal weight loss and fitness posts. I tried to keep the tone of my posts very positive and enthusiastic, and never, ever posted anything that could make someone feel guilty for being any body size or shape. Still, despite my attempts, I could feel myself distancing myself from that niche because I knew I had a very unique perspective on weight loss and body image that made me an alien to both genres of blogging.
How can I believe the old adage of "all bodies are good bodies" while still being an advocate of healthy weight loss? Why, don't those two concepts contradict one another? The short answer is no, but the longer one is this: I believe one's size or shape isn't subjective to beauty, nor do they define your self-worth or identity. When I look at someone, I'm going to see them as a human being, not a society-induced label of fat first, person second. One of the most terrible things people would tell me when complimenting my weight loss progress was to tell me how beautiful I am now, implying or even sometimes outright saying that I was vile before. So what happens if I gain weight; do I become ugly again? I completely loathe the concept that my beauty and my self-worth should hinge on something as fickle and changeable as my weight. I'm the same person I was before, and truly, when I look in the mirror, I see the same face looking back at me. I am not a number or my size; I am a person.
I don't believe you need to be any size in order to be beautiful, but losing weight isn't always about vanity pounds and appealing to society norms. I think that beauty and health are unrelated concepts. I don't feel compelled to maintain my weight to be conventionally attractive, and I laugh when strangers assume I lost weight to be more popular with the boys (truth: I don't much like dating). I, however, do feel compelled to be concerned about my health, and I wasn't healthy before. Does weight define health? Absolutely not! I know many people who are technically overweight that lead healthier lifestyles than I do even now, and I know many naturally small people who are completely sedentary and eat almost exclusively fast food. I think it's your own call to decide what is healthy for you. Personally, I can feel the difference between different weights on me, and I feel like my current weight (128-136; and notice the fluctuation room!) is the most comfortable for my 5'2 frame. My body runs better, I sleep better, I have more energy, and I move easier. I also had a lot of health problems when I was larger, as well as multiple health problems made worse by excess weight and lifestyle that run in my family. This was a decision to make my life healthier, not necessarily to become more conventionally attractive.
A couple of days ago, I was talking to a childhood best friend with whom I haven't spoken in ages, explaining the Star in a Bra competition to her. Excitedly, I ask her if she had voted yet, to which she responded with, "Uh, no." Dejected, I hung my head and didn't respond. She then added, "Why are you even entering?" I explained about the body image mission I've been on, and was told, "Body love? How can you say that when you had to lose weight to love yourself?" I was crushed by her response, but it got me thinking. The truth is, at the time I started my weight loss journey, while I was primarily motivated by my health, I hated my body. I was disgusted by it, and it made me depressed. Even during my journey, while I was pleased with my progress, I still felt unhappy with the image of my body. It wasn't until I had reached my goal weight and realized I still wasn't happy with my weight that I had the body revelation that got me where I am today. I wasn't happy because I was chasing perfection, and while I'm still not completely content, I live a little easier with my recent weight gain because I know it's okay to not be perfect. I look back at my older pictures and no longer feel disgust, because I still see myself in them. It's sad that it took losing weight to see the beauty if myself at all sizes, but I don't think it was directly because of my weight loss. It wasn't my body that needed to change, after all, but my perspective, and perspective is usually gained through experience. I don't regret my journey because it's shaped who I am today.
While I won't have as big of a presence in the weight loss community, I will still be there to help promote healthy weight loss as well as body image. I strive to be there for all of the girls who are mentally and emotionally where I was two years ago, and to help them have the journey and revelation I had myself. All bodies are beautiful, but sometimes, it takes a little perspective to see the beauty in yourself.