We’re told by the media and popular culture that fat is bad; that it’s something to be ashamed of – and that being thin makes us more attractive and successful. It’s hard to ignore these message but not impossible. Here’s how to love your body without losing weight…
When Kate Moss said that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, she was on to something.
She wasn’t right about the food bit – I’ve definitely tasted food that has made me feel happier and more fulfilled than being thin has.
(Usually, thinness has come with not eating enough, or eliminating a food group, so while a smaller waist is nice it’s usually accompanied by tiredness and anxiety.)
But it was about how skinny feels.
What she could have said, that would have been truer and a little less controversial, is:
“Nothing feels better than feeling good in your body”.
Because that could encompass everything body and mind-related: feeling fit and nimble, enjoying your body’s capabilities, relishing in the endorphin-rush from exercise, touching and being touched; sensuality, a happy contented mind.
I recently wrote an article for Red Magazine about sex after children come along, focusing on a book called Real Sex: Why Everything You Learned About Sex Is Wrong. I read it and then interviewed the authors; Mike Lousada and Louise Mazanti.
The premise of the book is that we have lost the connection between body and mind. We no longer know what desire really is. Our minds have been infiltrated by pornographic imagery, and society’s narrow beauty ideal, which makes us feel dissatisfied in our own skin and so we lack confidence.
What I love about the book is the exercises that teach you to reconnect with your body. For instance, there’s one that asked me to focus on a part of my body that I don’t like…
My post-birth tummy.
I had to direct my honest thoughts to my tummy (“You’re flabby and fat and ugly”). And then think about what my belly would like to be told (“You’re beautiful”).
The idea is that we channel so much body hatred there’s no space for feeling good in our bodies; enjoying them. But if you’re able to respect and honour and love your body, you’ll feel more confident. You will then exude this confidence, which is a lot more alluring than simply ‘being thin’.
The kids are all right
My baby son loves my belly. He pulls the soft loose skin through his fingers, pokes deep into the fat rolls while he breastfeeds and loves to snuggle in for a warm cuddle. This makes me love my belly more.
But when the media tells me to hide my post-birth body, and that only youth and thinness are attractive, I revert to hating it.
I’m constantly on a mission to feel better – in body and mind – without taking drastic or unhealthy measures. I don’t like diets, I’m not willing to cut out a food group, and I don’t want to take any faddy pills or classes.
I like to be active – running, walking, doing pilates in my kitchen. And I enjoy healthy food: fruit, veg… anything dug from the ground or grown on trees. But also cakes, biscuits and chocolate, from time to time.
What I’ve realised is that there is a way to love your body without losing weight. It involves making some simple changes. Here they are…
How to love your body without losing weight
Lose the weighing scales
A friend recently told me that she was feeling great in her body after having a baby. It had taken eight months but she was feeling confident. And then she weighed herself. Because the scales said she weighed the same weight that she had directly after giving birth, she felt crap.
Lose the scales.
Choose the right clothes
When I squeeze into my pre-baby skinny jeans, I don’t feel good. They’re tight, and leave marks on my (now bigger) belly. By the end of the day, I’m desperate to take them off, breathe out and relax. So I try to wear clothes that don’t hug my belly – like dungarees.
My current faves: a pair of raspberry pink cotton dungarees from Lucy and Yak (pictured above. Excuse the terrible pose – I’m still working it out). They are comfy, made ethically and with love, and will last. And there’s plenty of room for my belly.
Don’t compare yourself
After giving birth the second time, I remember seeing a mum on Instagram with a similar-aged baby and thinking: HOW ARE YOU SO THIN?? I felt fat and envious. But comparing myself to her was futile. Perhaps she was on a diet, or not eating so much cake. Maybe she just has a different body shape. Whatever the reason, she isn’t me and I’m not her. Feeling good in my body will make me attractive; feeling jealous of someone else’s body won’t.
And so I continue on my #bodypositivity mission.
Some days I feel great in myself, some days I don’t. But each day I get up, get dressed in something that makes me feel good, do my hair and make-up (not necessary for everyone, but I like some light slap) and smile wherever possible.
You can definitely love your body without losing weight. Who’s going to join me on this mission?