‘You need to lose your baby fat.’ At 13 I was deemed ‘unworthy.’ I was told I shouldn’t exist.’: Woman fights for body positivity, ‘I want to define what ‘healthy’ is’

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“My story is similar to a lot of women who grow up with body image issues. As a young child, I was told I needed to lose weight and diet before I hit puberty and lose my baby ‘fat.’ Growing up, so many women and men compared themselves to this perfect, airbrushed photoshopped version of false beauty we see in the media every day. I’m striving to educate people on the harmfulness of the false standard of beauty in our society and diet culture. There are too many people out there who are eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight when that is actually the caloric average needed for a three-year-old.

I’m a huge advocate for intuitive eating, joyful movement, and more. Eating disorder recovery, skin positivity, and body image are things that I am very passionate about. I want to help people learn to accept their bodies and ‘flaws’ as well as develop a healthy relationship with food. As someone who refused to eat in front of people growing up out of fear of being judged, who starved herself, and binge ate, I want to make sure everyone knows they deserve to eat and that food is your body’s friend. We live in a time where people will literally damage their health trying to be thin with these fad diets that don’t work.

Courtesy of Hope

The reality is, your body is normal, cellulite, stretch marks, fat is normal. Learning that your weight is not a determinate of your health, BMI is not an accurate indicator of health, and that thin does not equal healthy were all huge things for me. My goal is to help other women learn to love their bodies and be confident in themselves even if they aren’t a size zero as well as advocate for plus size women.

Thin privilege is another topic that I find is important to acknowledge in myself and discuss because although women of all sizes have insecurities, plus size women deal with fatphobia and discrimination more than I will ever know. As a straight-sized woman, it is still extremely important to me to be an advocate for those in bigger bodies and push for more diverse bodies in the modeling world and clothing industry. I actually don’t call myself body positive because of this. Body positivity was made for marginalized women and by women of color and unfortunately, too many white, thin, privileged women are taking the movement away from them. I opt to call myself a self-love or body confidence advocate instead.

Courtesy of Hope

When I was 13 my mom bought me some shorts from Abercrombie and Fitch. I remember them coming in the mail and trying them on. They didn’t fit, and my mom just said ‘Well, we’ll get them in a size up.’ They didn’t make them in a bigger size. My heart broke… I didn’t question whether there was something wrong with the company or sizing. Mr brain immediately went to: ‘I’m fat, ugly, and unworthy.’ I cried… a lot. I was a size 8 at the time… this was the only time in my life that this had happened to me. That’s how I know now I have thin privilege. Even though I don’t see myself as ‘thin,’ this is still a privilege I have, and my body is not scrutinized in the same way plus-sized women are.

Now we all know women’s clothing sizes are far from standard and vary with the phases of the moon, but thinking about this instance that shattered my self-esteem so much back then makes me wonder about something else today. I try to imagine being a plus-sized woman where MOST stores don’t carry your size, where sizing up is seldom an option, where most stores maybe have a limited plus-size section or only online, only neutral colored items, etc. Having the majority of companies not carry your size or make clothes that fit you? It’s basically telling them they shouldn’t exist, that their bodies are wrong. Imagine that being your norm. I will never know really know what that’s like, my one experience, that one instance as a young teen is all I had to endure, but it was gut-wrenching then, and thinking about anyone going through that as their normal makes my heartbreak.

Courtesy of Hope

I’m also a feminist and advocating for equal rights is another huge passion of mine. I firmly believe that women need to stop being constantly sexualized and demeaned in our society. The rape culture we allow and normalize needs to stop.

At the end of the day, all I really want is for everyone to learn that they’re beautiful. That your weight, clothing size, etc… do not determine your worth. You can be healthy and not have abs, you can be healthy at 200 lbs and ill at 120. We need to shatter these ideas of unattainable beauty: everyone deserves respect regardless of what they look like. Everyone deserves to fuel their body and enjoy food without shame. Everyone deserves to have accessible, affordable clothing. I want to redefine the black and white idea of what healthy is. We need to stop hiding what normal bodies really look like and making people feel like their body is alien and everyone is a supermodel. I just want everyone to love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin.”

Courtesy of Hope

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hope. Follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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