(Y'know, if you're wantin' to work towards feeling as fierce as these humans look! Image via QFF)

Bevin is the blogger behind Queer Fat Femme, a Reiki healer, tea enthusiast/purveyor (I drink her "Feelings Tea" all the time), and one of the most genuinely benevolent people I have ever met. You might know her from her viral post about how to be an ally to fat people who have lost weight, the great post of hers about getting neutral about food OR from her introduction on Facebook as my kick-ass moderator. Regardless, the world is a better place because she is in it and I'm thrilled to share this back-to-basics post about working towards body acceptance.

In a past interview for a telesummit I was asked to share five tips people can employ to love their body more right now and I'd love to share them with you. The truth is: You don’t have to wait for anything to have a good relationship with your body. Not after you lose weight.  Not after you start going back to the gym. Not until you get a lover. Whatever space you’re in with your body, you can start making peace with it right now. Here are five ways that have helped me:

1. Remember that you are not alone.
Everyone has a hard time with their body at some point or another. We’re in a society that commodifies insecurity–it serves the billion dollar beauty and diet industries. If we hate ourselves, we buy all of their stuff. If you could really solve your own body hatred by buying something we would all be as in love with ourselves as we could possibly be every day of our lives.

But you can't solve a problem that was created for the sole purpose of selling you things, simply by buying those things. It doesn't work that way. It was specifically designed to NOT work that way. And we're all enduring this together.

So know this: even the most ardent body positive activist has “bad fat days,” and the struggle with our very human bodies is part of being human. You are not alone in your struggles.

2. Be honest about your yucky feelings.
I am a big believer in naming our hard feelings and getting them outside of ourselves. It helps expel shame, so if you feel complicated about your body? Be honest about it.

A practice that I’m a big fan of for a body part you feel complicated about- is to talk to it. First, touch it, softly. If this were my stomach I’d rest my hands on it. Then I would talk to it. “Hey stomach, I’m feeling really complicated about you. X, Y and Z are making me feel really hard today.” Then, after you name the hard feelings, start thanking it for what it does do for you. “I know I feel complicated about you today, but I want to tell you thank you for being a soft place for my dog to rest, filling out my dresses, being a great canvass for a tattoo, etc…”

Try it once and see what you think.

3. Take excellent care of yourself.
When you don’t feel good about your body it is really hard to have the motivation to take care of it. Self care is really important for mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health, though, and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle, both negatively and positively. The less you "take care of" (whatever that means for you) your body the more you start hating it and the reverse is true, too.

Once you start taking care of your body by doing things like getting enough sleep or learning intuitive eating, it starts helping you feel more comfortable in your body.

It’s taken me years to learn how to take care of myself and I’m still learning. I just said to my friend Jacqueline the other day, “I’m 35 years old and I just realized that I absolutely need to eat lunch within a couple hours of breakfast. As soon as I leave the house I end up in this spiraling vortex of not being able to get the food I need and I get hangry and want to kill someone.” It is so weird because my "logical" brain tells me, “I shouldn’t be hungry yet,” but the reality is that I am and should just pay attention to my body.

Is there something for your body you could do to take good care of it today? Like an extra hour of sleep? A long bath or shower? Taking meds or supplements? Making a list of things you love about yourself? Self care stretches our time, according to Kelli Jean Drinkwater's therapist, and it's proven to go a long way.

4. Get value-neutral about your body.
I heard a spiritual thought leader say that the body was just a vessel for the soul. I have found that idea very helpful in coming to terms with my body changing when I don’t ask it to. It’s similar to the sentiment I expressed about How to be a Good Ally to Fat People Who Appear to Have Lost Weight. It’s just a body, in a different form.

Sometimes our bodies are doing things that frustrate us, as in a period of lessened mobility, or sometimes our bodies may feel absolutely great. Being really attached to one kind of outcome or another is a vicious cycle of feeling "not enough" or constant worrying about things changing. Weight naturally fluctuates, skin gets saggy when it gets older etc etc etc. The body changes, but what doesn’t have to change is how much unconditional love you have for your body.

Part of learning to be body positive for me was learning my body was not my worth. The acceptance of your body without judgment is really powerful. It takes baby steps but repeating mantras of, “It’s just my body” helps.

5. Stop any negative talk about other people’s bodies.
I have had to do a lot of internal work to stop judging other people’s bodies. When I hear myself begin to judge I stop and I change it to simply "noticing". It’s a subtle difference but it does actually work. “I’m noticing that that person has amazing boobs. I’m noticing that that other person is very thin.”

We are conditioned in our diet/scarcity/commodified insecurity culture to judge other people’s bodies when this is certainly not our job. So, if I work to stop buying into this culture (in my own head and externally with my friends and family) I’m doing the work to change the culture I see as damaging. I believe that change begins with me and I want to do my part to make the world more accepting of all bodies.

We are also often our own worst critics. Whenever someone takes the time to say something really hateful to another I tend to wonder what they are saying to themselves when no one is around. People who are terrible critics of other bodies are often saying even nastier things to themselves. Let's check in with ourselves and make sure that neither situation has a place in our lives.

The good news? As you get more value-neutral, compassionate and understanding about other people’s bodies it really helps to become compassionate about yours. It's a win for everyone all the way around.


Jes's note: I have a few suggestions as well for the simplest of ways to work toward changing the way we feel about our bodies: 1.) Try adding in a wide array of body types into your life and social media feeds. I've compiled 170+ body positive resources (from Facebook pages to blogs to Tumblr accounts) that if you like, read, and follow will start to shift the way you see your body as well as others'. 2.) I would also recommend not necessarily aiming for "body love" but rather body neutrality. Melissa Fabello has written a great article on this concept and I highly recommend it. 3.) Read up on the history behind the reasons why we hate ourselves. My go to is The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and of course I recommend the book I wrote (what author wouldn't?;))as it has an irreverently summarized version of beauty's history as well. Facts help me. They may help you too.

Do you have any other "back-to-basics" suggestions for those who are just starting to learn about body reclamation or ideas for those who need reminder or two? 

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