Have you ever tried something new and thought to yourself
“Man, do I look like a fucking idiot.”
Yeah, well, that is precisely how I felt this month.
In this era of body positivity, we are fed these messages of loving and appreciating our bodies at any size.
You know the kind of messages I am talking about:
- Wear that outfit!
- Do that thing you are afraid of!
- Don’t let your weight hold you back!
- Don’t wait until you’re a certain size to live your best life!
Okay, thanks for the positive message reminding me to love my body at any size, but they never really tell you how to actually go about loving your figure at any size.
As a plus-size woman, my whole life can be divided into chapters of me trying to lose weight or hating my body.
I can’t think of a chapter in my life where I just existed.
Enjoying something without the constant worry in the back of my head about what I look like.
I’ve been bombarded with messages on what diets I need to go on, what new exercises I need to do, and what I should wear to compliment my figure while not showing off my rolls too much.
All the while, I am receiving these subliminal messages about how I will never know true happiness or love until I look a certain way and that I should be ashamed of my body.
I should want to change it because my life will be so much better when I look a certain way.
I got tired of waiting around.
So for a long time, I held off on living.
I believed if I could get to my goal weight, then life would be great!
Once I was X amount of pounds, I could start living my life, and all my problems would be solved!
But then the years started passing by me.
I was getting older but wasn’t getting closer to my goal weight.
My hatred for myself grew and eventually reached my breaking point.
I become mentally and emotionally exhausted from trying to change my body.
Waiting for the day I would look in the mirror and think, “damn, I look skinny. I can finally have a life.”
I wanted to live now.
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Trying Something New
So I decided to take some of that new-age body confidence advice and sign up for a pole dancing class.
Now, this is a massive leap for me.
I was going to be wearing short shorts and a sports bra in front of other people!
This coming from the girl that didn’t even feel comfortable enough to take her shirt off during sex!
But all of a sudden, I had this newfound body confidence to be half naked in front of a bunch of people.
But I thought, “hey, no time like the present to start learning to love your body!”
When I started the class, I knew I wouldn’t be any good, but I thought I would at least feel comfortable.
Comfortable around the other girls, looking at myself in the mirror, and possibly having a moment where I felt proud to be trying something I’ve always wanted to!
But that was not the case.
I felt so out of place in my body, my skin, and worst of all… around the other girls.
I felt like everyone was looking at me like I was the biggest idiot on the planet, thinking, “how dare she show up here looking like that.”
P.S.: It doesn’t help when you are the only plus-size woman in the class.
I felt like an alien.
Picture this: I am surrounded by dainty women with bodies that people would kill for. Their hair is always straight to the tee, and their nails and makeup are always done. You would never catch these women slipping.
Who Knew Existing Would Be This Tough?
And then there I am.
My hair sticking out in weird ways, my ratty sports bra rolling up because my stomach is too big, and the inability to hold onto the pole because I’m heavy.
In those moments of comparison, I am reminded of how uncomfortable I feel in my body.
Do you know how terrible it feels to look at yourself and think, “Damn, have I just been going through life looking like this??”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
I try to remind myself of other plus-size women who take up pole dancing like Nicole Byer and how she looks so confident when dancing.
That I am there to learn something new, not to hate myself more, but it’s so hard when you are looking at a 5’5 foot girl whose hair cascades gracefully around her shoulders as she quickly escalates the pole in a cute matching set that you can’t find in your size.
It’s hard to love yourself when dozens of signs tell you you are defective.
That this space is not meant for you.
And that’s not the worse part.
Let’s say I find a way to repress the negative thoughts and actually enjoy myself during the class; then comes the filming.
And the filming is just so you can have a reference to the amount of progress you’ve made, but it’s horrifying.
There are all these women watching you, and it’s a supportive environment, but my head is not a supportive environment.
I’ve been to 4 classes and have not been able to bring myself to watch one video of myself.
Seeing the cover image alone makes me instantly choke up because I can’t stand the way I look.
I feel like a fucking idiot.
I think I look like an idiot.
What made me think I was allowed to exist in such a feminine space while looking the way I do?
Then when I walk out of the class, I feel this combination of happiness and dread.
Happiness because despite my negative thoughts, I could complete a class and learn some techniques.
And let me tell you, nothing is more satisfying than being able to escalate a pole after trying for 30 minutes.
Negativity At Its Finest
But then there is a sense of dread that sets in, and it’s the negative thoughts that come to consume you.
Are you really going to go back?
Have you seen what those other girls look like? You can’t compete.
Why are you even trying? You know what they think of you.
Do you see how your stomach hangs and how your arms jiggle?
And let’s not even start on how your thighs look in your shorts.
And in those moments, I am shook.
Not because of the rude things my head was saying but because I had no idea how much I hated myself and how I looked.
I knew I never identified with the body I have but never to this level.
In moments like those, I try to remind myself of my inner child.
The little girl who would be so proud that we are just trying something new and not letting some insecurity that is a passing trend stop us.
So, taking these lessons has been hard. Not only from the countless bruises I’ve received but because it made me take a hard look at myself.
It made me realize all the hate and anger I feel towards myself through no one else’s fault but my own.
People have told me to change and that I wasn’t enough, but I don’t need to take on their insecurities.
I can rise above them and enjoy life even if I don’t fit the beauty standard.
Now while this is all very uplifting.
But I still have a long ways to go when it come to building my body confidence.
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Can We Hear A Little Commotion for Your Body
I try to remind myself to appreciate my body because it’s been through hell.
Eating disorders, traumatic weight losses and gains, depression, anxiety, broken bones, muscle spasms, stored trauma, and everything else you can think of.
So while I don’t completely love my body or feel comfortable or identify with what it looks like, I am still grateful for everything it has allowed me to do and see.
So to anyone struggling with their body image at the moment, today, just take a moment to show a little appreciation for what it has gotten you through.
I am not saying to ignore your negative thoughts and pretend they don’t exist.
Acknowledge them too. They show you want you need to heal.
But what I am saying is that even though you don’t love your current situation now, there is always something that you can show appreciation for.
The Secret to Building Body Confidence is….
You know, my whole life has revolved around me trying to change my body, and I thought maybe if I hated it enough, I would be able to change it, but I realized no amount of hate can fix something.
Especially when it comes to the relationship with yourself.
You can’t hate yourself into a better state of mind or life.
And while it seems some people are just born with the body confidence and grace, you wish you could purchase on Amazon, just remember that you don’t know their story or struggles.
So what’s the secret to building body confidence?
There is no one way, but start by appreciating the little things it does for you, and then we can go from there.