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Body Positivity; What It Means To Me

You may or may not have heard of the terms "Body Positivity" or "Body Neutrality" before, but they are vital to each of us.

boudoir image of me taken in the Flash of Confidence studio in Berea, OH

Simply put, Neutrality and/or Positivity are the goals, and Negativity is the bad guy. Unfortunately, the bad guy is often the louder voice in the heads of many, especially women, causing insecurities and negative self-talk in each of us around all kinds of things. And when we're talking about our bodies, it is often even more difficult to reach those neutral or positive mindsets, but especially important to try.

Practicing Body Neutrality and/or Body Positivity is an ongoing effort, just like building any habit or healing any wound. A lot of people struggle with these practices, though, especially women, and we give in to the negativity more often ~ don't beat yourself up about it if this is you, but take this as a little reminder to keep trying!!

A lot of Body Negativity stems from poor body image, body dysmorphia, negative comments, standards, or trends from the world around them, and comparison to others. For me, the journey has looked different than many. Sure, I had a bit of those "normal" insecure thoughts and feelings over the years about things like weight, curves, being considered pretty... but most of my Body Negativity stemmed elsewhere.

leia-inspired boudoir image of me taken at the Flash of Confidence studio in Berea, OH

I was a very skinny dancer growing up and was often told by others how "lucky" I was or how jealous they were because of my "good" body. Meanwhile, I craved the curves and clear skin of other girls, and I struggled with invisible chronic illnesses and chronic pain, have been through more hospital stays and surgeries than most people I know, and had to stop dancing altogether because of that very same "good" body. It was so conflicting for me; hating my body and feeling like it was failing me in one way or another constantly, but then feeling guilty because I also felt like I wasn't allowed to hate my body due to those outside opinions and self-doubt. I was being let down by my body on the daily, but was told to be grateful ~ and I wanted to be grateful! I wanted to love my body more. Look for the things I did love, could love about it, despite the things I may not. It was a lot to ask of a young girl who was feeling so conflicted and let down by her own body, amid adolescent changes, comparisons, and attractions. And on top of all of that, I was coping with the trauma of sexual assault, and that played into my Body Negativity in its own ways. If you want to read more about my healing there, I talk more about that aspect of my Body Positivity and Self Love journeys in my last blog post ~ click here to check it out!

Through all of it, I've always tried my best, whatever my best was that day/week/year. And I've learned a lot over time.

Other people don't get to decide the way I feel or think about my body, especially if they don't know the full story. Every day looks different for my body and my mindset, but I'm still here, breathing, engaging in my passions, living every bit of life that I can. I compare myself less and less to others, in all aspects but especially body image, and I'm becoming more and more accepting of my chronic illnesses and my body's "flaws." So to me, that means I'm becoming much more Body-Positive. This body doesn't always make me feel good, or sexy, or capable ~ but much of the time, it does. And it's strong enough to have faced and accomplished and explored so much. It's a canvas of personality and tattoos. It's loved, and taken care of, and it's mine. I don't hate it, even when I wish things about it would change. I am grateful for it, even when I forget for a while.

For some, practicing Body Neutrality or Positivity looks like learning to be kind to ourselves about our weight, full makeup or filters vs natural appearance, or other body image-related struggles. For others, it means learning to be less judgmental and more accepting of others' bodies, and different body types, shapes, and sizes.

Boudoir self-portrait of me, taken outdoors in OH

For me, it's learning to appreciate my strengths and capabilities instead of dwelling on chronic struggles I can't change ~ but that I can get better at coping with ~ and being a cheerleader for other women, helping them to see their beauty the way I do through the art of boudoir, or supporting their spirits through my writing and friendship.

For you, it might be a combination of all of these, or something else entirely. What's important is to keep these practices in mind and do your best along the journey ~ Body Neutrality and/or Positivity can play a huge role in improving our Self-Love and Acceptance, and that's the true life goal!


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