Reminders from the Historically Pudgy Body
Physical appearance doesn’t reflect worth...
After the reality of indoor isolation set in back in March of 2020, I was confronted by one particular appliance in my house–the treadmill. At the time, I was trying to find an area of my life that I could focus on improving and I had heard on a TedTalk that it takes 60 days to form a habit. With no access to the outdoors and my affect plummeting, I decided that I would focus on running everyday.
In my youth, I was someone who was typically pretty pudgy and had weight fluctuations all through high school. I began my ‘body positivity’ journey back at age 15 when I found myself at a Northeastern boarding school surrounded by narrow, primarily white, female bodies. I felt like such an outcast for having more shape, especially because the prominent ‘hook-up’ culture at the school led me to believe my body deemed me less desirable. I took out my frustrations in the meetings of my school’s feminist alliance. Unfortunately, no amount of rants would change a culture that spanned over an entire school, or even an entire global culture. What I did not know then was: the change I was yearning for was within my reach the entire time.
Over the early quarantine period as I began to lose weight, I looked back on photos of myself in high school when I thought I was so big and so round, but I realized… I looked normal all along. What was it about moving my body on a daily basis that allowed me to gain perspective on my previous forms?
On the 60th day in a row I had been running on the treadmill, I opened Instagram and was, again, confronted by an overwhelming amount of images of female bodies. Looking to find a sort of resolution to my habit-forming feat, I jotted down these lessons. They would serve as reminders for myself to remain set on no matter what my body looks like or how long this running habit would remain…
Progress is not linear. Fluctuations are so normal.
The seasons, the time of month, or even the time of day can dictate the shape of your body. Whatever state your body is in, it is a beautiful and worthy one even if it’s not where you want it to be. All the goals you set for yourself are possible, though you may not reach them all at once.
2. There is no such thing as the “ideal” body. The “ideal” body is yours to decide.
Media and culture has perpetuated the norm that skinny white bodies with particular features are the “ideal,” when in reality the idea of beauty is too nuanced to be contained in one image. You have the power to decide what your “ideal” body is.
3. Lighting and angles are huge factors in the images of bodies we consume online.
The amount of false images of female (and male) figures spread online can be seriously destructive to your self-perception. Remember how much of them are dependent on factors such as lighting and angles and they do not reflect what average bodies appear like in space.
4. Be wary of comparing yourself to others.
It takes a lot of time and effort in order to identify moments in which you compare yourself to others–namely because your brain is so used to doing it constantly. I urge you to notice when you are comparing your features to other’s and redirect yourself. Instead you may note what you love about your appearance that day (and any day).
5. You have the power to love your body. Physical appearance doesn’t reflect worth.
Another deeply perpetuated falsehood that we encounter daily is the link made between your appearance and your worth. They are not connected. They will never be. Give yourself the permission to love yourself in spite of the voices that tell you otherwise.
Today I still run on a daily basis and I have grown to love it not for what it does to my body, but how it affects my mind. As I run in the downtown direction on Chelsea Pier each morning, I gaze down the Hudson River and watch how sunlight strikes the Freedom Tower differently each day. I think these moments of observation and meditation have led me closer to self-acceptance than any amount of weight loss ever will. Though running seemed to access some part of myself that I previously was not aware of, everyday is a new process. I do not want to make it sound as though I have unlocked the answer to self-love, because I certainly have not. I do believe what I have learned is–everyone has the potential to find activities, practices, and affirmations that allow them to feel beautiful inside and out. The last sentiment I will leave you with is: consider the amount of unrealistic images of bodies you follow online. If seeing someone’s content makes you feel bad about yourself… just unfollow!
Please enjoy these resources that aided me on my journey and allowed me to see all different types of beauty (not just the one!)