HOW TO LOVE YOUR BODY WHEN YOU GREW UP WITH A MOTHER WHO COULDN'T TEACH YOU HOW

To myself, as much as anyone.
  1. When your mother tells you, with tears in her eyes, that she just doesn't want you to be unhappy the way she was when she was fat, remember that it's not about you.
    She does love you. She does want the best for you. But she's projecting her own inadequacies onto you. It's not entirely her fault: society has fed her lies for so long she can't distinguish them from truth anymore. But it's not your fault either. & it's not your responsibility to take on the burden.
  2. Remind yourself that you are not only your body.
    Your body is a the vessel that contains you & as such is a key part of who you are. But there is so much more to you than that. Whether you believe in a higher power or not: your whole being is intricate and wonderful and astonishing. You are a miracle.
  3. Don't let yourself believe that other women are the enemy, even if they meet society's definition of beautiful.
    All women, whatever they look like, are victims of society's inexorable campaign to whittle away our self-worth. Hold onto this when the girls you've dreamed of looking like lift up their shirts to compare bellies and bemoan how fat they are. Cling tight to it when average-size celebrities talk about how they're fat. They aren't the enemy. They aren't trying to hurt you, not on purpose.
  4. Eat the things you want to eat.
    You don't have to justify it to anyone, including yourself. Your body needs to be nourished. Give it nourishment. Learn how to give your body what it craves in a moderate, healthful way. That's part of nourishment too.
  5. Wear the things you want to wear.
    You know what looks great on you? The thing you feel great in - whether it's because it makes you feel cute or because you don't give a fuck about looking cute or because any other reason at all that you like it. It's hard enough to find clothes that you feel great in, regardless of what size you are. Don't give something you like up because it breaks some stupid, arbitrary rule about what women who look like you should wear.
  6. Learn and know and remember that photo manipulation/retouching is everywhere.
    It's not just magazines & billboards. It's red carpet candids. It's movies. It's social media. We live in a society that's Photoshopping women who already look like the women they're telling us we should look like. Be on guard.
  7. Look at un-manipulated/un-retouched pictures of other women, of other bodies, until you normalize in your head an idea of beauty that isn't limited to society's definition.
  8. Remember that it's okay to find beauty in the images society is throwing at you.
    Just remember that much of it is manufactured. Just remember that it's not the only kind of beauty there is.
  9. Know that doctors are not infallible.
    They live in this society too, & carry all the baggage intrinsic in that. But you deserve a doctor who won't automatically assume your size is the cause of all your problems. If you don't have access to one, or can't find one, don't be afraid to question. Doctors can be scary, but ultimately you are paying them to provide a service to you. You are the one who lives in your body. Don't accept 'you're fat' as a diagnosis for everything.
  10. If someone is cruel to you about your body, try to remember that it's a reflection of their own insecurities & character.
    It's okay to still be hurt. Of course. But it doesn't define you & it doesn't truly mean anything about you at all.
  11. Surround yourself with people who love their bodies.
    It helps if their body is similar to yours. It also helps if it isn't.
  12. Surround yourself with people who will love your body.
    It's okay to seek validation from others. Craving community is a very natural and beautiful part of who we are. The key, as it is in many things, is balance. No other person can love your body for you - but they can help you find the reasons to love it. No other person can be the source of your self-worth - but they can help teach you how to be that for yourself.
  13. Catalog the things you love about your body.
    It's okay to start small. It's okay if they seem silly. It's okay if they are things no one else would notice or see. It's okay if it's simply an organ working or the sound of your voice or a physical activity your body allows you to do or the small smooth perfect patch of skin between where your jaw ends and your ear begins. Just start somewhere. Love those things. & then try to expand the reach of your love.
  14. Stop using the word 'fat' as an insult.
    Some women have been able to reclaim this word, and they brandish it with pride. Maybe you'll reach that point someday. Maybe you won't. It's okay either way. But stop letting it be a dirty word in your mouth. Eventually it will stop being a dirty word to your ears.
  15. Take selfies.
    Take control. Use as many filters as you want. Present to the world the self you want to be seen. And then work toward expanding what that means. Progress toward loving yourself is progress, no matter if it happens in baby steps or bounding leaps.
  16. Don't avoid having your photo taken because of how you feel about your body.
    If you can't find it in yourself to look at them now, it's okay. Maybe someday you'll see how beautiful you were without realizing it. Maybe you won't. Whatever the case, you deserve to have your life documented, if you want it to be.
  17. Remember that it's okay to have bad days.
    Some days you will look in the mirror and not like what you see. Some days you will look down in the shower & flinch at your stretch marks, or feel shame because your thighs touch. It's okay. This is an uphill battle. Some days you might slip a little. Some days you might just need a break. It's okay. Take the time you need to recover. & then come back fighting. We're gonna beat this, someday.