Here's to another year of belly roll appreciation, cellulite celebration, and unapologetic self love. I refuse to make any resolutions to shrink myself. I refuse to see my reflection as a problem that needs fixing. I refuse to spend another year at war with my body. If you didn't conquer body love in 2016, that's okay. Because I believe in you so damn much, and I hope that this year you realise how powerful you truly are, how perfect your body really is, and how WORTHY you are of self love, exactly as you are. Here's to leaving self hatred behind and embracing our magic in 2017 ✨I'll be right here, cheering on every single one of you. And I am forever grateful to those of you who cheer for me too. Sending you all so much love! 💜💙💚🌈🌞 Undercrackers are @freyalingerie 🌟
Of course, we all know this is bullshit. Being thin doesn’t make you happy any more than being tall does. Your size doesn’t dictate your happiness, it's your relationship with yourself – with your body and your mind – that determines whether you wake up smiling, or in tears.
And no one appreciates that more acutely than an eating disorder (ED) survivor. An eating disorder – I write from past personal experience – is a form of living hell. It’s a bit like being trapped in a box with all your biggest fears, all the time. It’s exhausting and life-destroying, and I have immeasurable respect for anyone who has managed to beat one; and the deepest admiration for anyone taking on the difficult task of trying to help others do the same.
Which leads us to the sub-section of Instagram users conducting an Insta-revolution, fighting to turn society's deeply unhealthy – and dangerous – obsession with weight loss on its head. Whether fully recovered, or in the difficult process of doing so, a group of inspirational women are using the social media platform to show that gaining weight is no bad thing. In fact, it can be lifesaving.
The BoPo (Body Positive) Instagram community was created to rival the pro-anorexia and ‘perfect body’ accounts. The women of this community use encouraging hashtags such as #realrecovery, #embracethesquish, #selflovebootcamp and #gainingweightiscool alongside unedited, uncensored images of their bodies and honest, moving descriptions of their mental struggles.
No shame in this belly game 👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼 because GUESS WHAT? Our bodies stretch when we move!! 🌟 Our skin folds and rolls and squishes when we sit down, and when we dance, and when we do yoga on the floor of our bedrooms. Our bodies aren’t made of plastic - they’re not meant to look the same every minute of every day. And you KNOW WHAT ELSE? 🙌🏼 You don’t need to be a fitness model to wear a sports bra. You don’t need to have a flat stomach to stretch and feel movement in your body. You don’t need to use your current body as “motivation” for your “goal body.” You don’t need a “goal body” period. 🙅🏻 You are enough as you are, right now, because the real you is good enough. #embracethesquish #recoveryispossible #selfloveisthebestlove #lovemyshape
Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) – who has nearly 500k followers – suffered with eating disorders for much of her life, with multiple in-patient stints in hospitals and psychiatric units. Two years ago she discovered the BoPo movement online. “It changed everything,” she told me. “I saw all these women of different shapes and sizes unapologetically loving themselves, and I realised for the first time that maybe I could do that, too. Maybe I didn't have to starve and hate myself forever. That's when I truly recovered, healed my relationship with food and with my body, and starting living.”
This sentiment is echoed by Milly (@selfloveclubb) and Dani (@chooselifewarrior), who explain they first began using Instagram to access pro-anorexia content and compare themselves unfavourably to others, but soon discovered pro-recovery accounts and the BoPo movement. “I started to see the beautiful side of social media and how it could be used for great things. I’d say it’s played a huge part in my recovery”, says Milly, who is now taking that same message to her 28k followers.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here's to another year of love, smiles and bad assery! 🤘🏼💪🏻 Starting my account was the greatest thing I've ever done for myself. From the bottom of my heart I thank myself for biting the bullet and making Selfloveclubb and I thank you all for making this an amazing experience❤ I want to thank 2016 Milly for making it through, surviving and helping others. I want to thank 2016 Milly for being strong, resilient and pushing through the bad days. And lastly I want to thank 2016 Milly for allowing love into her life, for allowing herself to feel worthy enough, you rock Milly. All I want for 2017 is to carry on striving and being a bad ass/pushing forward in the fight to change the world with Bopo love, self care and mental health awareness. What do you want to thank your 2016 self for? Stay safe lovelies and enjoy your night ❤💜❤
The strong sense of community among these women and their followers is incredible. Between them, Milly, Dani, Gina, Kenzie and Megan receive thousands and thousands of messages and comments from people struggling with similar issues. “There’s strength in numbers, and when you find out you’re not alone in your struggles it lifts a bit of the pressure and unites you with like-minded people”, says Milly. “There is so much power in the words, ‘me too’”, says Gina.
🌺 What do you hope to learn internally about yourself and body positivity this year? 🌺 I hope to learn how best to take care of myself when faced with my body changing. My double jaw surgery is going to be a huge step and moment in my life. My changing face will be a journey I am ready to take on. (Jaw surgery is for health reasons tooth decay and bone density as well as migraines. So the cosmetic change will be something I have to endure to reap the health benefits... it's a weird road I am on with that. Lots of introspection ahead). #chooselifewarrior
The causes of eating disorders are as varied and complex as their manifestations, however, the consensus among the survivors I spoke with was that the pressure of our visual culture doesn’t help. “Because we see literally millions of images that have been enhanced, we see a picture of humanity that overwhelms who we are”, agrees Orbach. And although things are changing, "who we are" remains predominantly white-skinned, tall and thin.
Words for all us bopo warriors ✨ It gets easier, but that doesn't mean to hard stuff still doesn't come. In waves, in moments we may drown in ourselves, in the bodies we try to keep from sinking. We may still have voids. Big voids, the one that creates a lightness so heavy we must fill it obsessively and violently to feel whole. We may still find weakness in our strength. We will catch ourselves lying to protect our truth. In moments where our bodies are only masks for our secrets. The secrets we thought we burned and tossed, but they found a way combed in us. We will have moments like these. And we will choose to fight them until our hearts say no. A fight that we live to love for the benefits of eternal freedom tantalize every inch of our soul. Honour your fight, that soldier inside you, she sleeps only when all is well again. And all will be well again, as it goes. Remember this, my warrior. 💞 #edsolider #bopowarrior #selflove
The fact is, what you see and what you’re exposed to in your day-to-day life makes a difference. We know that there should be more diversity in our media. We know that we are not even remotely adequately reflecting our society. The question is, where do we go from here? How do we effect the change we wish to see?
One social media account at a time, according to these women. “Social media is truly changing things,” says Dani, “we don't have to wait to see someone like us on TV or in a magazine; on social media you can curate your own safe space in which you see what you want to see”. Megan agrees: “Social media enables us to surround ourselves with diversity,” she explains, “which is why it's so important that we curate our social media feeds to include all different kinds of beauty. For decades, mainstream media has given us the same unattainable, photoshopped image of beauty to aspire to, in order to convince us that we're flawed and sell us the solution. It's time we all stopped buying into it.”
If you’re affected by any of the issues in this piece, Beat provides confidential support and advice. Please visit www.b-eat.co.uk