Guest Blog: Why I Need Body Positivity by Brittany Pysar
I can remember laying in bed when I was young. I would lay flat on my back and rest my hand on my tummy and smile because it felt flat. Then I would turn on my side. I would look down and see my belly fat. I could see what was once flat, now round and drooping toward my mattress. I would go back and forth, flat on my back to my side. Over and over, analyzing my belly fat. How could it be there one second and gone the next? Why did it look so different laying down than when I stood up? Why did I have a round pouch on my lower abdomen when I walked around? Why were all my t-shirts so tight just around my "gut'? The most important question I ask myself about all of this now is: who taught me to hate my belly so much that I analyzed it to this extent? I can remember doing this as young as 10 years old, maybe even younger.
This obsession with my round belly followed me into adolescence. I would wake up in the morning and get ready for school. The first thing I would do when I woke up, before I showered, brushed my teeth or ate - I would walk to my full length mirror and admire the way my stomach looked after laying flat on my back all night. I would smile at the relevant flatness of an empty stomach. Hungry and tired I would get ready for school, skipping breakfast, of course. My poor teenaged brain would go hungry and tired too due to lack of nourishment. After finishing high school and dropping out of my first year of college, depression hit me hard. I blamed my body. "If only I could be thin, then I would be happy." I can remember the day I stepped on the scale and saw that I had broken the 200 pound barrier. I told myself I had hit an all time low. That I was disgusting, and that something needed to change.
I started working with a personal trainer and I restricted my diet. I would exercise everyday until I vomited and I ate nothing but plain chicken breasts and broccoli. I still skipped breakfast. I was so proud of my commitment and I flaunted it all over Instagram "#fitfam"!! I thought this was happiness. I didn't go out because I didn't drink and I didn't eat anything. I had no social life and I was tired and sick. #healthyliving.
And then I fell off the wagon. Any weight I lost I gained back and more. I was depressed and had anxiety and I comforted myself with food. I thought I wasn't good enough and that I deserved to be fat and disgusting and horrible and alone. I deserved to be sad. So I was. I looked at myself and I cried. I refused to shop in plus size stores simply because I refused to be labeled as plus size. I would sausage into clothing that didn't fit just so that I could say I was a size large. I was uncomfortable and I was sad. I was wasting my life obsessing over what I looked like. I was wasting my money on clothes that didn't fit me that would tear and damage after a few wears. I was wasting my life, sitting at home alone feeling eternally sorry for myself. Again, I knew something had to change, but something had to change in me.
I placed an order at a plus size retailer. Suddenly, my clothes fit. So I placed another order. Those fit too. So I went into a plus size store for the first time. I was finally able to have a sense of style. I didn't just go into a store and buy the only things that fit me. I went into stores and made outfits, I chose the things I loved and I chose them in a size that fit me. Then I fell in love. I fell in love with fashion. I fell in love with the endless ways pieces can be combined to create entire wardrobes of looks. I fell in love with the way my butt looked in a pair of jeans, with the way an a-line skirt flowed and moved with my body. I googled 'plus size' on YouTube and I found an endlessly beautiful community of Body Positivity in women like Corissa from FatGirlFlow, LoeyBug and Alex of LearningToBeFearless. So I turned to Instagram and I replaced #fiitfam with #bopo and found the most inspiring posts. I found kindness and acceptance. I found love and I found hope. I found where I belong.
Instagram has changed my life. I became active in posting about my body struggles which helped me to overcome a lot of my body issues. I engaged with other people and discovered that we all have struggles and the best way to overcome our issues is to tackle them together. Body positivity and self-love is all encompassing. It isn't just about body acceptance but about supporting the people around us struggling with issues that prevent them from living their life to the fullest. Body image, racism, homphobia, transphobia, fatphobia, cultural segregation, religious biases, sexism, and the list goes on. Strength in numbers. Together we can share our experiences and learn from them, spread knowledge on topics we may not have been previously aware of. Engaging in a community that is so overwhelmingly accepting and positive is life changing and it is something we all need. If you're struggling - talk about. Use a public forum, send me an e-mail, talk to your loved ones, friends, strangers, your priest. Just share your story, because words are powerful thing.