A lot of people have been asking me what I did to become body positive. They’ve been asking for specific, concrete steps that I’ve taken to boost my self love. So I’ve decided to put together a list of six tips for the bopo beginner here. I hope it helps!
Tip 1. Instagram
The first thing I did to learn more about body positivity was to find body positive accounts on Instagram. There are a few good accounts on Facebook, but Instagram is where it’s at for all things bopo. I searched in my discover page using hashtags like; bodypositive, bodypositivity, bopo, bopowarrior, effyourbeautystandards, celebratemysize, and donthatetheshake.
By using these hashtags I quickly discovered dozens of accounts run by incredibly inspirational women worldwide. As a fat person, I was more drawn to accounts that were run by fat women, but there are just as many accounts run by thin women. The range of body positive accounts on Instagram is so diverse that no matter who you are, you’re bound to find some that you can really relate to.
By following the accounts of bopo fat women, I began the admittedly uncomfortable but absolutely crucial task of desensitizing myselg to images of fat bodies. I gradually stopped seeing them as grotesque and started seeing them as completely normal. This was the first step in changing the way I saw my own body.
I’m sure it’s possible, but I think it would be infinitely more difficult to begin a body positive journey without having an Instagram account. I can’t emphasise enough how central the platform has been to my own experience. Even if you don’t have an Instagram account, it would be hugely worthwhile for you to set one up. You don’t need to start posting or be active in that way, but following some bopo accounts will really kick start your body positive journey!
Tip 2. Get Reading
Once you’ve found a few accounts to follow on Instagram it’s time to start digging a little deeper. Looking at pictures is a fantastic way to desensitize yourself to non-airbrushed bodies, but it’s important to start reading the captions under those pictures too.
Many of the big bopo accounts are run by wonderfully gifted writers, and their captions can provide insight and help you gain understanding of body positivity. They can also challenge what you thought you knew about the world, which is extremely useful in breaking down old patterns and creating space for new ones to grow. A lot of these women will also have websites and blogs, just like this one, where they may write in even more detail about issues relating to body positivity.
Find their websites, read their blogs, comment with thoughts or questions, engage in the discussion. Even if you’re not sure what you think about something you’ve read, leave a comment saying just that! The body positive community is a very welcoming place, and the vast majority of women will be happy to chat with you and help you in any way that they can.
Tip 3. Write your thoughts
Now before you start panicking and thinking that you have to be a wordsmith to be body positive, relax! Under no circumstances do you need to set up a blog to be body positive. Buuuut, I do advise you to pop down to your local shop and pick up a notebook type thing.
Because like it or not, journalling is a proven tactic for dealing with emotional issues. And baby, body positivity brings up a lot of emotional issues. You’re gonna be forced to remember all the snide comments your Mum made that made you feel fat, all the ex boyfriends who made you feel undesirable, all the times bitches said things to hurt you, all the clothes that didn’t fit. This is unfortunate, uncomfortable and unavoidable. I’m sorry.
But there is good news! Writing really does help. There’s something about forming words in your mind and getting them onto paper that helps us make sense of our thoughts and emotions. So when you’re reliving some previously buried memory from the past, get your notebook out. When you’re feeling uncomfortable with something you’ve seen or read, get your notebook out. When you’re mind is swirling with unarticulated questions and concerns, get your notebook out. Nobody ever has to see it but you. But I promise, its an invaluable tool.
Tip 4. Question Everything
After just a couple of weeks of following bopo accounts, reading and writing, you’ll probably find yourself beginning to question things that you took for granted previously. For example, I remember one day seeing an article online about how to dress for your body shape. In the past I wouldn’t have blinked an eye, but this time I realised I was uncomfortable with the idea that women are obliged to ‘flatter’ their body shape. What did flatter mean? Improve? Manipulate? Hide? This is the first time I started questioning the world around me.
Don’t be alarmed when this happens. It can be a little exhausting, emotionally, to realise that you are going to have reform the vast majority of your previously held opinions. What a daunting task! But taking it day by day, you’ll figure out how you feel about things soon enough, and in no time you’ll marvel at how blind you had been in the past.
Don’t be afraid to question what you see and read on Instagram too. Remember that body positivity means very different things to different people. So there are a variety of strands/schools of thought that may not be apparent at first, but that you’ll begin to recognise as you strengthen your bopo muscles. Pick and choose what accounts speak to you most, which ones promote the version of body positivity that you connect with, and unfollow the rest.
Tip 5. Experiment
To me, nothing shows body positive progress as much as clothing does. Clothes may seem frivolous and unimportant, and I don’t mean to imply that you’ve got to be a fashionista to be body positive. But there are few things that express how we feel about ourselves and our bodies as much as our clothes do.
I can still remember the first time I bought ripped boyfriend jeans. I had always lusted after them, wishing that I had the body to pull them off. The first time I bought a pair I was terrified that people would point and laugh at me in the street, but I just kept reminding myself that my body was beautiful just the way it was, and that if the girls who I followed on Instagram could post pictires of their half naked bodies on the internet I could surely muster the courage to wear a pair of jeans. By the end of that day I was strutting around like Beyonce, checking my reflection at every opportunity, feeling like the sexiest bitch that ever lived.
As your feelings towards your body begin to change, try experimenting with your clothes a little bit. Wear something you would never have worn before. After all, you will by now have started to realise that your body isn’t the most shameful thing on the planet after all, and your sole focus can shift from hiding it to enjoying it.
In less than six months I’ve gone from hating my body, feeling a deep sense of shame and guilt around my body, and feeling completely unworthy of love and respect, to truly loving my body just as it is, and finally seeing my beauty and value for the first time. It’s been without a doubt the single most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my life. Now I’m committed to helping others experience that same transition. With that in mind, I really hope these tips help you on your body positive journey! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments, or get in touch with me privately via the contact page in the menu.