Posts tagged Body Positivity
On A Good Day
You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.
— Wizard of Oz

These photos were taken on a good day. I followed more body positive accounts on Instagram, put on makeup, took a bunch of photos and selfies, drank enough water, and went for a long walk. I felt beautiful and radiant and powerful. The day before was a bad day. I was unhappy with my makeup, I constantly fidgeted with my clothes, avoided eating, looked up diets, and promptly deleted every selfie. I felt inadequate, discouraged, and ugly

It's a daily struggle but I'm slowly but surely learning to love myself even when I mess up, when I haven't put makeup on or showered, when I talk too much and ramble about silly things, when I forget to work out, when I eat far too many chicken wings, when I gained weight, and especially when I don't feel like loving myself at all. 

 
To My Younger Self

You're going to waste a lot of time and tears on the opinions of others on your body, on your sexuality, on your worth. Please know that you are worth so much more than the number on the scale or the size of jeans or the clarity of your skin. 

There's nothing wrong with your skin color or your scars or your acne. You are lovely in the skin you're in but there are going to lots of people who tell you otherwise, who tell you that it makes you less valuable, less beautiful, less worthy of love and respect. They're wrong. 

Don't even think about getting a breast reduction. Believe me, it'll work out in your favor down the line. *wink* Your classmates will give you hell for a few years but it's all jealousy, dear. 

Don't let anyone shame you for buying, using, and enjoying makeup. It isn't deceiving, shallow, frivolous, or useless. Makeup is art. It is a creative outlet. It is self-expression. It is fun, experimental, and confidence-boosting. Watch tutorials, create looks, play with color, try different techniques. Explore your passion, dear. It'll get you far. 

You're going to like many a stupid boy. Some will tell you you're fat and gross. Others will make comments about your body and act like they have every right to do so, like you're only purpose is to be beautiful for them. Others will try to silence you, invalidate your opinions because of their own insecurities. Never try to change your body, hide your intelligence, censor your opinions, or alter your personality for anyone else.  

Start being more selective about your online presence and who you give the privilege of learning your stories and adventures. The number of likes, retweets, shares, faves, and followers you have doesn't make you a better person. Your work ethic, compassion, determination, and ability to empathize with others is what makes you better. 

Shopping is going to be daunting and you're going to shed a surprising number of tears in dressing rooms, pinching your tummy and desperately trying to yank those small jeans over your full thighs. You're not the problem, dear. This stupid society the shoves ridiculous standards down our throats is. Find stores with your size and wear comfortable clothes that fit you properly. 

Keep the lights on. He loves every single part of you including your spots, stripes, and scars. He doesn't care about your weight or your soft stomach and thighs. He loves you because you are a smart, engaging, vibrant, sexy, and quite cute when you want to be. Let him love you. Let him see you in all your goddamn glory. 

 

This post was inspired by the beautiful post of Callie Thorpe.
Check out the post here

Toasted
Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love and admire you.
— Stacy London

I love the summer. The sun, beach trips, golden tans, loud music, and long nights. The one thing I don't usually look forward to are the bikinis. One, it's hard to find one that fits well and two, it means putting everything I don't necessarily like about my body on display.

Stretch marks, scars, spots, discoloration, and cellulite are all things I generally keep well-hidden beneath jeans and long-sleeved tops. But not this summer. This summer, I'm trying to catch myself every time I compare myself to anyone else and to other bodies. This summer, I'm trying to push myself to love and accept the parts of my body I work so hard to hide. This summer, I'm wearing a bikini and I look damn good. 

 

 

10 Pounds

1. I once read that couples that gained weight together were the happier. Matching muffin tops and soft bellies to match softened hearts and overflowing affection. What lovely little price to pay for such happiness. 

2. "I don't need a man to tell me I'm beautiful or wonderful or amazing. I know that already. Damn right I am. I need a man who can keep up with me, who can handle me, my determination, and my goals. I don't need a man to tell me what to do or help me find myself. I know who I am and what I want in life"

Sometimes it surprises me how someone so young can have so much confidence and sureness in themselves. I envy that. 

3. The heaviest I've ever been was 195 pounds. I was a college freshman with new friends and new experiences. I didn't even noticed I had gained my "freshman 15". I was too busy living. Then someone pointed it out, mentioned it in passing and I spent the next two years fixated on shedding the weight. I just went through a tough, erratic, amazing year and all you feel is noteworthy is my weight gain. 

4. Nearly every night, during our usual video call, I point out my double chin, flabby arms or soft stomach and I pout with glassy eyes. You've heard it a thousand times. But every single time, you sigh and answer with "I love you" and a smile. And that's all I need. A little affirmation with a side of fries. 

5. Here's to posting a photo even if your double chin is in full view because your smile is genuine. Here's to jiggly thighs, flabby arms, hairy legs, and stubby fingers for doing their job despite constant criticism. Here's to having such a good time that you forget to pose on your 'good side'. Here's to forgetting to give a damn. 

6. How to lose 10 pounds in 3 days. Intermittent fasting for weight loss. How to lose 20 pounds in a month. Melt fat away. Exercises to get ride of double chin. Beach body workout. Military diet. Miracle soup diet. Thinspo. It's amazing how many secrets and insecurities are tucked away in our search history.  

7. Part of me is nervous about being home because I know my weight gain is going to be thrown into the spotlight eventually. People are going to use concern about my health and well-being to bash my body and claim they know exactly what is best for me. Snide comments, backhanded compliments, and unsolicited opinions. Ahhh, childhood memories. 

8. 'Slim thick' is in. Large breasts, thick thighs, and round bubble butt paired with a perfectly flat stomach, toned arms, and a tiny waist. Thick in the right places. Not skinny and not fat, a perfect, unattainable medium. 

9. My brother weighs 250 pounds and for most of his teens, he has been criticized, bullied, and mocked for being as big as he is. My brother loves to dance. He blasts Korean pop music and can't help but wiggle to the beat. One year, my brother insisted on joining a summer dance class then another the next year. He was surrounded by petite, lean dancers nearly half his size and he outdanced them all. His weight continues to fluctuate but his spirit and his love for dancing hasn't. 

10. Yes, I've gained 10 pounds. What else has changed about me? Everything else that matters hasn't. 

Understanding Body Positivity

Body positivity is a term I've been seeing quite a lot of in the past few years. Instagram accounts devoted entirely to body positivity and self-love have popped up with massive followings, companies and businesses have created campaigns supporting body diversity, and plus size models and body positive bloggers are more popular than ever. As a woman on the curvier side, I'm delighted! When I was younger, I never saw anyone on runways, in movies, or in ads that looked like me and I would spend hours scouring the internet for plus size models. It's progress and I'm here for it. But despite all the wonderful progress that's been made, the body positivity movement isn't perfect and is so often misunderstood or misused. Some claim that it is used as an excuse to be unhealthy, promotes obesity, shames and undermines slimmer women while others claim it fails to be truly inclusive, teaches narcissism and encourages being shallow. So allow me to clarify some things. 

 

WHAT DOES BODY POSITIVITY MEAN? 

At its very core, body positivity is about the idea that all bodies are good bodies. The idea that all bodies are bikini bodies. You are not a better person for being a size 2 and I am not a worse person for being a size 12. A size 22 body is just as worthy of love and respect as a size 10 body. It's about acceptance and emphasizing that one's worth is not dependent on weight, body shape, age, or ability. It's not about weight and, in my opinion, it isn't even about health. The body positivity movement is a response to the problem within our society that deems some bodies more valuable, more worthy of praise, and more acceptable while leaving other bodies unrepresented and shamed. Because the body positivity movement also focuses especially on bodies that are generally marginalized or under-represented, it is often regarded as fat positive or only for plus sizes which is wrong. It's as much for smaller sizes as it is for larger sizes. 

 

DOES BODY POSITIVE = FAT POSITIVE? 

Not quite but it did grow from that movement. Fat positivity is reclaiming fat bodies and viewing this particular trait as a positive part of your life rather than something to be ashamed of. Fat persons are often shamed for 'letting themselves go', being lazy, or being unhealthy and by virtue of simply being fat, promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. When clothing brands don't carry larger sizes and complaints are made, comments so often urge them to lose weight instead of urging companies to meet their needs. It's unfair, downright disgusting, and something that has to stop. 

 

DOES IT PROMOTE OBESITY?

Not at all. That's not a thing. Let's define PROMOTE shall we: to further the progress of; to support or actively encourage. The body positivity movement (and the fat positivity movement for that matter) does not actively encourage obesity, weight gain, or an unhealthy lifestyle. What it does encourage is not apologizing for taking up space in this world, for existing in the body you have. The movement accepts bodies of all shapes and sizes and aims to be as inclusive as possible, especially to bodies that are generally marginalized, shunned, or under-represented. 

 

WHAT ABOUT HEALTH? 

First off, someone else's health is really none of your business. So many use concern and backhanded compliments as an excuse to criticize and attack someone who simply doesn't look the way they'd like or a way that makes them comfortable. Unless you're their doctor or have intimate knowledge of their medical history, you can't evaluate one's health just by looking at them. Health doesn't have one face, one particular look. 

I personally don't believe body positivity should focus heavily on health. I shouldn't have to prove my health to deserve and receive respect. While we all encourage each other to live healthier lives and take care of ourselves, body positivity focuses on loving and accepting yourself as you are whether you are underweight, overweight, or working towards an aesthetic goal. Sure, you can work towards losing weight, gaining weight, getting those abs or even maintaining but you don't have to hate yourself along the way. 

 

SO IT'S JUST ABOUT BEING CONFIDENT AND LOVING YOURSELF? 

Yes, but not quite. The body positive movement is not just about you. The body positive movement is about making everyone feel heard, seen, appreciated, and represented. Remember: empowered people empower people. It's all well and good that you are confident and comfortable in your own skin but the movement aims to spread that positivity and uplift others. 

It's all about inclusivity and this inclusivity can reveal some biases. Because of my social conditioning, I realized that I am most comfortable with bodies that are more petite and proportioned, size 16 and under. When I started to explore the body positivity movement, I was exposed to bodies that made me uncomfortable. That made me realize I needed to change and accept that body positivity isn't reserved for what I consider an acceptable body that makes me comfortable. Because it isn't just about me. It's for all bodies and confronting your biases is a big step forward.

 

WHY SHOULD I CONGRATULATE PEOPLE FOR LOVING THEMSELVES?

"Congratulations you love who you are. It's not my duty to applaud you for doing something you should already do" 

Sure, it may not be your job to congratulate anyone for loving themselves but it sure as hell isn't your job to break them down. These kind of comments are so dismissive and apathetic to the experiences of others. Maybe you had a better experience and good for you but there are people who have been criticized, ridiculed, and shunned because of their bodies. For some, it isn't easy to love themselves in a society that tells them that they are undesirable, lazy, shameful, disgusting, and unhealthy simply because of how they look. For your sake and everyone else's, go find some empathy and sympathy at your nearest corner store. 

The Skin I'm In
To look in the mirror and like what you see, even when it doesn’t look like your idea of beauty
— Sharon G. Flake, The Skin I'm In

Society will never be satisfied.

Someone always has something to say. Naturally thin? Go eat a burger, you must be anorexic. On the thicker side? Obese and here's an unsolicited lecture about health and weight loss. Sleep with whoever you want? Wow, you slut. Virgin? Wow, you prude. Watch reality television? How shallow and dumb. Voice strong opinions? Jeez, must be on her period. Stay at home mom? How unaccomplished and a waste of potential. It's a continuous stream of judgment and pressure that fuels insecurities and low self-esteem.

So many still feel entitled to regulate female bodies; how we dress them, display them, adorn them, share them, and love them. Big butts are acceptable on the right shape and tiny waist. Breasts are should be perky and unblemished. Abs should be visible but just enough to remain 'feminine'. Slim but voluptuous. Curvy but the 'right kind'. Victoria Secret Model with side of Kim Kardashian. Jackie in the streets, Marilyn in the sheets.

So many still feel entitled to regulate female choices; how we behave, how we raise our children, express our ideas, rise in our chosen fields, and how we choose to be a woman. 55 and in a bikini? As long as you still look 25, you're fine. Feminists versus 'equalists'. No abortion yet no child support. Slut-shaming and victim-blaming. Equal pay, acquitted rapists, and shaming plus size models. There is no shortage.

Full-time mom, full-time employee, model physique, curvy, sexy, demure, classy, promiscuous, innocent, ladylike, one of the guys, expressive, quiet, strong, delicate, hero and damsel in distress, Superwoman, and Lois Lane. We are told to be everything at once.

We obsess over becoming the ideal woman, at least I have. We strive for an unattainable ideal and punish ourselves for failing to achieve it. Whose ideal are we working so tirelessly to meet? Ideal woman to who? From now on, the answer is TO ME.

 

What Will Your Mother Think?

Social media has become far more than just simply a method of communication. It has become a platform where organizations push their causes, magazines post articles, models create online portfolios and followings, writers upload eBooks, and companies debut new products. It has become a marketing phenomenon, a haven for independent artists, heaven for overnight celebrities, and home of online trolls. But most notably, it has become a gigantic forum where every opinion is voiced whether solicited or not, whether valid or not.

Women, their bodies in particular, have always been called into question, regulated, and subjected to a slew opinions. Her modesty, promiscuity, hair, makeup, voice, words, clothing, diet, hobbies, parenting and career choices have always been heavily scrutinized. With the popularity and growth of social media, there are now several questions and opinions about how a woman should conduct and present herself online.

The women I follow on social media are strong, independent, hardworking, and sexy. They are mothers, models, businesswomen, entertainers, reality show stars, makeup artists, bloggers, and influencers. Some are tattooed. Some happily flaunt curves in lingerie and swimwear. Some are more conservative. Some are content to wear only pink and some change hair colors every week. They adorn, display, share, and celebrate their bodies as they please and that, in my opinion, is inspiring. So a few weeks ago, I posted a photo of my own. It was a shadowy photo of my body clad in black underwear with my face partially cropped. It was easily the most vulnerable I have allowed my body to be on social media and a photo I had wanted to post for some time but hesitated to for fear of scrutiny.

For the most part, it received positive reactions and comments but one particular comment bothered me.

I don’t know how your mom will react to this but suya kaayo ko, Val” (I don’t know how your mom will react to this but I’m so jealous, Val).

It was a comment made with good intentions but it hit a nerve. Why did my mother's opinion on my body and how I chose to present it matter?

 


 

I recently read an article entitled: Why It's Hard To Respect Females Who Post Half-Naked Pictures Online. As you can imagine, I was already mildly ready to throttle the author after reading the title alone. The article listed reasons why women who post half-naked photos of themselves have no self-respect, no morals, and are seeking attention among other things.

This is not the first time I've heard such sentiments. Women and men alike harshly criticize women who post photos flaunting their bodies. A few weeks ago, I shared a statement from Violet Rose on Facebook:

It is illegal for women to go topless in most cities, yet you can buy a magazine of a woman without her top on at any 7-11 store. So, you can sell breasts, but you cannot wear breasts, in America.

And I completely agree. Women's breasts are objectified and regulated to please the male gaze. Even when women's breasts are used for their actual purpose: breastfeeding, it is deemed inappropriate if done in public while nude magazines line store fronts.

Yet some people claim that topless models on magazines are more valid and respectable because they are being paid. It's another case of people comparing two women, deeming one more acceptable than the other simply because of their bodies, appearance, and how they choose to show it. One article compared Kim Kardashian to Michelle Obama. Michelle is painted as the classy, modestly dressed, Ivy league educated, successful power woman while Kim is portrayed as the dumb 'slutty' counterpart with no talent besides flaunting her body and riding on the fame of her sex tape. This is an unfair comparison, one that shouldn't even be made. There is no wrong way to be a woman and success is not hinged on education, clothing choice, or sexuality.

Kim is an intelligent businesswoman who has managed to manipulate a sea of misogynistic comments, slut-shaming, ridicule, and objectification in her favor. How she chooses to dress or post photos does not make her a less respectable woman than Michelle Obama. Wearing revealing clothes does not make me a slut or 'easy' any more than donning a nun's habit will make you religious.

I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. The body-shaming and the slut-shaming – enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me. I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.
— Kim Kardashian-West

A single Google search resulted in more than a dozen articles criticizing women who display their bodies in more revealing ways. As I read through each article and the arguments they presented, I grew more and more frustrated. In this day and age, people still regard women and their bodies this way? There are still people who believe a woman's worth is dependent on how men view her and how they approve of how she dresses? On whether or not she is wife material? There are still women that tear other women down for doing what makes them feel empowered? I felt I had to say something, anything about it. I felt I had to make some things very clear to people who so quickly judge women and people in general. 

 

 

Women are not for men's consumption

"Respect yourself, ladies, it will attract the right things and the right man"

"There's nothing left to the imagination, no more mystery. They don't even have to take her on a date. They know what she looks like naked"

I do not dress myself to please men and the things I do are not centered on snagging the right man. I am not here to be the 'girl he would want to bring home to his parents' or to be the perfect, god-fearing wife. I am not here to be your manic pixie dream girl or your girl next door. It is not my job to make you feel comfortable and it sure as hell is not my job to please you.

If you don't want to date a woman simply because you've already seen much of her skin, you already don't deserve her. If you are a man who immediately degrades and lowers your respect for a woman because she has the audacity to post photos of her own body, then you don't deserve a strong, independent woman who knows her worth. She is more than the skin of her thighs or the cleavage on her chest. There is personality, goals, history, childhood, culture, and inspiration beneath all that. There is no shortage of mystery in her but there is clearly a shortage of integrity, respect, and maturity in you.

 

Women are not pieces of meat

"Women who post half-naked photos are advertising themselves as a piece of meat, tempting men"

Let's get one thing straight. The way I dress or present myself is not an invitation to touch my body and it is absolutely no excuse for any kind of harassment or abuse. The kind of photos I post are not invitations for lewd comments, fetishizing my body, or perverted advances. 

I am not advertising myself as a piece of meat. The comparison alone of my body to a piece of meat is degrading and objectifying, reducing me to nothing more than something to be consumed and then done away with. I am presenting myself as a woman who is confident in her body, something I have struggled with my entire life. I am presenting myself as a woman who finds herself beautiful and is not afraid to share that, attention-seeking be damned. YOU are the one viewing me as a piece of meat. YOU are an entitle piece of crap. YOU are the problem.

 

 

I Do Not Need Your Permission

"Where are the parents of these women who allow them to behave in such a way?"

"A woman who knows her worth will not present herself in such a manner"

NO. A woman who knows her worth doesn't need validation or approval from any man or anyone else. A woman who knows her worth will dress however the hell she wants, unapologetic and glowing. She is not allowed by anyone to post her photos or wear what we wears. She does not need your permission. 

There are a good number of people who still think that my body and how I present it reflects on my parents and my upbringing. I find this kind of thinking quite unhealthy. While my parents have greatly influenced me, they are not the only ones. At my age, I make decisions without needing their consent or their opinion. I've been informed by the world around me and I've built an image that I control and shape. It is a tool to be honest and empower myself and how I go about that is not my parent's business. If it offends them, I cannot help that. I can explain but I will not allow it to change me and I will not apologize. I am my own person. 

 

There is no wrong way to be a woman

Nudity empowers some. Modesty empowers some. Different things empower different women and it’s not your place to tell her which one it is

It is natural to want to display one's body. Fashion, cosmetics, photography, and art are proof that we have always been fascinated with the human body and the ways we make it aesthetically pleasing. Bodies tell stories. All the scars, tan lines, hard-earned abs, stretch marked thighs, tattoos, piercings, and eclectic outfits tell a story. To say there is only one right way to be a woman would be a disservice to all the beautiful, diverse, complex women out there. 

 

 


 

What will your mother think? I hope she's proud. I hope she knows that after years and years of battling with myself and punishing myself for being who I am, I am slowly but surely recognizing my own strength, my own beauty, and my own autonomy. I am a grown ass woman. My body is mine to display as I please and no amount of skin exposure lessens my value as a human being.

Why does my mother's or anyone else's opinion on my body and how I chose to present it matter? The correct answer is that it doesn't.