At this point, a lecture on the importance of body positivity might not resonate with you. We’ve heard it being shouted at every other new campaign. We have heard it from Ashley Graham, read it on blogs, encountered it at Twittersphere, and even talked about it at women’s gatherings or even in a casual conversation with a friend.
The importance of loving your body beyond society’s twisted standards is easy to defend. It’s the how and the everyday gestures that goes into this love that can be difficult. How do you love something that has been systematically pulled down by countless media sources and even your own relatives? How do you defeat a culture wherein you are never “enough”? You can be plus-sized, skinny, dark-skinned, or fair-toned and someone will still comment negatively about it. For some reason, you are told to be like every other person other than yourself.
Phew! Take a breather a bit. When it comes to body positivity, the big questions can be overwhelming. But the road to a better relationship with your body is do-able. It’s not far from other relationships you keep. Body activist Trisha O’Bannon gave us a small guide yesterday at her talk in…where else…Ilya Sex Toy Shop.
When it comes to what you want to do with your body and how you want it to look like, the only authority you need is yourself. Trisha says that you have to make sure that what you’re doing for your body is out of your choice and not what society dictates. We’ve learned how various campaigns tend to standardize what beautiful should look like or what you should do with your body. “Everyone is different,” says Trisha. “You know what is best for your body so be careful if you’re just following a look that you’ve seen online.” Save for the doctor and your other trusted experts, always listen to your gut feel—literally and figuratively.
“When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re thirsty, drink. When you want to have sex, go for it,” says Trisha. If you want to look a certain way, you always have to make sure you’re not compromising your health. Your physical body has its own wisdom and you should follow it. Improve it if you must through exercise and even surgery but make sure that it’s not at your own risk. Don’t feel guilty doing what is natural. Think about it: When a skinny model eats a hamburger, she’s deemed as down-to-earth. But when someone who is of average size does it, all the comments of unhealthy diets come in. At the end of the day, can’t we all just eat a burger?
Trisha warns us of the little things we say that fuel self-hatred. “Don’t trash talk yourself. Don’t go in front of the mirror and pick out every flaw you have,” says Trisha. We have a tendency to hate on anything that deviates from the usual requirements of beauty. We tend to internalize the words spoken against how we look. Take heed in the little voice in your head that says you shouldn’t be apologetic for the traits you have. It’s who you are, why should you be sanctioned for simply being you?
Being a body positive person with a good self-image isn’t a cake walk. “We all make bad choices, but we still shouldn’t judge,” says Trisha. Loving yourself doesn’t mean eating Cheetos the whole day in bed and then complaining that you’re being shamed for it. You know what what is harmful as opposed to what you can do to pamper yourself. Self-love involves taking care of yourself and acknowledging that not everything you do is right for your body.
Feeling “ugly”? Book a mani-pedi appointment. Feeling stressed? A massage should help you. If you think there’s nothing great about you, look at yourself in the mirror and put on some nice lingerie. “I have a group chat where we send each other lingerie and naked photos,” says Trisha. In this group, her female friends empower and compliment each other. It’s a tangible way to remind you that beauty comes in many different forms. Sexy is never but a singular concept. Everyone is sexy in their own way.
If you don’t want to be judged based on your looks, it’s automatic that you shouldn’t do it to others. “Don’t project your pain onto other people,” says Trisha. If you want to seek revenge on the people who have taken you down, learn to understand that they also have their own issues to deal with.
Understand that not everyone was born with a sense of body positivity. Be a channel to help them love how they look. Be patient when they insist on certain ideas, like your tita who always asks why you are “fat.” Talk calmly and let them know how that statement makes you feel.
Art by Lara Intong
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