Body positivity can be a hard road to travel no matter what stage your body is at. Everyone has, at one time, hated their body for whatever reason (including yours truly). Taking the first steps towards radical self-love as a fat person can be tough – but what happens when you’ve already started your journey and your body changes again? More specifically, in a world that hates fat bodies – how are you supposed to love your body when you’re gaining weight?
We’re going to explore the things that you can do to feel better about the skin you’re in when the skin you’re in is changing. I’ll talk frankly about the reasons for your body changing, and I’ll be tackling how to reframe your thinking into a more positive narrative. One thing I won’t be doing, however, is giving you health advice. I am not your medical practitioner. I do not know what healthy looks like for you, so I won’t be talking about it in this capacity – nor will I be navigating the supposed correlation between health and happiness (that’s a whole story for another day!).
Why are you gaining weight?
To really get down into the nitty gritty of this journey, we’re going to have to talk about why your body is changing. Not because this is a shaming exercise, but more because we need to be honest about the “why” in order to get to a place where you’re ready to be kinder to yourself. That’s what this particular part of your journey is – the ability to recognise changes in your body and take them in your stride for whatever reason. I ain’t expecting you to be an emotionless robot – quite the opposite actually! I’m asking you to be in tune with your inner happiness.
You might be eating more and moving less, maybe you’re going through pregnancy, perhaps you’re dealing with an illness or change in medication, it could all just be down to ageing and hormonal changes, you could be transitioning to the body you’ve always thought you’d have – or maybe you’re recovering from an eating disorder or serious illness. All of these are valid reasons for your body to change. No one of them is more or less acceptable than the other. The first step in remembering that your body is fine in whatever state it is currently in is to remove the stigma behind WHY your body is changing.
Now, let’s look at how to stop your negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with kinder messages about your new body.
Focus on Fact, not Opinion
OK so this one is like, the god-tier of learning to love your new body. You need to look at some of the facts associated with the new body you have. You may not be able to fit into clothes that you once wore. If that’s the case, replace them – don’t hang on to them with the thought of “I’ll wear them once this stage has passed”. Dress the new shape that you’re in and acknowledge that your size has changed. Use this as an opportunity to try things that you’ve never tried before! It’s also a brilliant excuse to see what the places you used to shop at do in plus size options. Did you know that George at ASDA do plus size clothes up to a size 24? I’m wearing some items from their range in this post (and you can get some cheeky discount at this link too!).
Sometimes a change in weight also means a change in ability. If that’s the case, it can be difficult when you’re mourning the loss of your old abilities. The first thing you should do is talk to someone who can help you through the loss of this, such as a mental health practitioner or counsellor. If this isn’t an option, finding groups on Facebook or fat-positive people on Twitter/ Instagram can help you to find some community. It’s also worth thinking about what your body can still do rather than what it can’t do. You can still love someone, you still have the ability to live and breathe, to fight, to be creative, to feel. Your body is a magnificent machine, regardless of what state it is in.
Don’t Hide From Your Body
The easy way to deal with your changing body is to hide it, so you’d be forgiven if this is the route you’ve taken – but this isn’t what’s going to get you to a more body positive state. Spend time looking at your new body in the mirror. This’ll be uncomfortable as fuck – nothing worth doing was ever easy – but in facing your weight demon head on, you’re giving your brain a chance to process it. Take note of your new curves. Touch them, trace them with your fingertips, grab at them – and each time you do, say (either out loud or in your head, whatever is most comfortable) “My body has changed, but I have not.” You are still the “you” that you were when you weighed less. A change in your mass is not a fundamental change in who you are.
This is especially important to do if your weight gain is as a result of medical changes in your life such as new medication or growing a child in your womb. Your body is reacting in a certain way because of circumstances that you’re in that you can’t control. Sometimes that lack of control can be scary. Which leads me on to my final point…
You Always Have Control
Whether the control is in a physical sense or in an emotional sense, there is an element of control over the outcome of having your new weight. The control that I’d like you to focus on is the control you have over your internal vision of your body. Although there may be factors outside of your control that feel overbearing (i.e. other people commenting on your body like the inconsiderate fuckers they are), focusing on the things you CAN control is the right place to assert your energy. Every time you find yourself wanting to be negative about your body, it’s worth remembering that the opinion you hold of yourself is the most important one. If you tell yourself negative things, you’ll soon start to believe them but the reverse of this is true too. If you replace negative thoughts with kinder thoughts, you’ll slowly but surely begin to believe them.
So what are you going to do to feel better about the weight you are? Remember to be as kind to yourself as you are to others, and remember to talk to others too. Lots of people feel the way that you do about your body. Share your stories and talk positively with others.