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The ugly truth behind body positivity

Though I grew up overweight, I chose to not be defined by it, and though I was coming to terms with my own body, stretch marks and all, I didn’t realise that I played a negative role in the way others felt about themselves, and that I was part of the problem.

From the beginning

My weight gain came after the passing of my brother when I was 10. I wasn’t allowed to do too much, I spent my spare time in front of the TV and not outside being active.

I always knew that I was different than other kids. The other kids, especially in primary school, were not so big. So it became something that had always bothered me and that I was conscious of from a young age. That time was also difficult because I was going through puberty and I was confused as well as teased about my sexuality, which I did not understand. So it was difficult.

Being big definitely affected the way I saw myself. When I was big, and teased for it, I was negative, sad and despondent. I didn’t have the answers and my parents didn’t have the tools to help me. I didn’t grow up knowing about dieticians, and the doctors we went to just say ‘eat less’ or ‘cut out sugar’, which for a child is not possible.

Making the change

I think it was a systematic of loving myself that triggered me to start loving myself as I was. Realising that I’m a spiritual being, having a human experience and I am not this skin, it is meagrely one part of a journey that I’m on. I’m still loving myself and still learning every day to accept myself. The more I learn about the world and about how I react and perceive the world, the more I come to appreciate the person I am, and I love myself more.

I’m naturally a positive person, but I feel that my mental health and image has improved, the more I’ve learnt to accept myself. And if and when I do decide to change, it will be for me, not for someone else, for acceptance, to fit in or any other societal factor.

Fortunately for me, the older I grew, the more I realised that I didn’t have to worry about the outside world much. I think people have always seen my confidence and never my insecurities. I don’t think we realise that people are desensitised to physical appearance, but it’s that voice inside you saying ‘you are not enough’ and when you listen to it, that’s when you start digging a hole for yourself. We all sit with insecurities and I think when we unify in the things that we perceive as ‘ugly’, just imagine the trust and openness we’ll have when it comes to promoting positivity.

The journey of self-love

Self love is one of the most powerful things. Accepting yourself as you are can change the entire world because you stopped focusing on, or giving energy to negative feelings. You are more at peace and are then able to direct your energy into the world, to affect positive change. I have stopped laying in bed wishing to be different, I now dream, and plan and fill my days with purpose.

For anyone struggling with the journey of self-love, I say, do not be in a hurry to get to a place of acceptance. Learn and grow from the journey because that will teach you the most valuable lessons and equip you to do more than just be happy with yourself, it’ll teach you to appreciate the deeper things in others.

Martin Headger is a contributing writer for the Anova Health Institute and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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