The story of how my negative body image started
Ever since puberty, I’ve struggled with having a positive body image and having body confidence. At the tender age of 13, I went back to the Philippines for school and everyone told me I was fat. Relatives would say I was fat the moment I met them! It was crazy to me. I guess in the Filipino culture it’s not as taboo to say that and not as big a deal like it is in the states. Some may even say it’s a compliment. I was told this when I was only 105 lbs- a weight that is at the lowest end of healthy for my height.
Before This Coming of Age Moment…
Before that time, I don’t think I ever thought about my body as being anything but mine. I mean that I never thought my body affected anyone but myself. I didn’t think about how it looked to other people. After feeling self-conscious about my weight and the fat comments I received from so many relatives I just met, I started dieting, which unfortunately for me, led to me struggling for years with a Binge Eating Disorder (BED), a pretty common but not as talked about eating disorder.
The common message
It didn’t help that at the same time I was being told I was fat by so many people, I also started really noticing boys. I’d watch tv shows and see billboard ads and notice all the women. I’d look at magazines because I love fashion, and it seemed like the whole world was telling me one message.
Skinny is beautiful. Skinny is the only beautiful.
This was very unfortunate in my eyes because I was naturally not the gangly svelte type. I had an apple shaped figure. Even at my thinnest, I had a wide face, short neck, small hips and wider shoulders. I was more muscular and strong than skinny. My butt was round, my thighs were shapely. Nothing about me matched what society and everyone was telling me about what beautiful looked like. After many years of struggling with my negative body image, I realized…
The only way to change my negative body image is to change the message.
Now that I’m in my mid thirties, I realize that I just accepted this message my entire adolescent life. I didn’t fight it, nor did I try to prove it wrong. I just tried to shape myself to fit that mold. It didn’t work because I could never change my natural body type and I’m a foodie! Looking back in my life, I wish I had rebelled against this message in my own way just for my sanity. I wish I had at least questioned it.
During the process of my recovery from my eating disorder, I heard from many women who were telling a different message about body positivity and body confidence. I learned one important lesson.
The only scientific way to change from having a negative body image to having a positive body image is to see body diversity.
This means I needed to see a range of body types. And even more beneficial, I needed to see body types just like mine. The more bodies I see in the media, in my Instagram feed, on Tv, and in magazines that are like mine, the more likely I will come to accept my own as beautiful. My subconscious says “Wow she is beautiful. My body is like hers. I must be beautiful too.” Before the influx of body positive models, fashion bloggers, and influencers, when we were only seeing one type of body in the media, the message before might have been, “Wow she’s beautiful. My body is nothing like hers. I must be ugly.”
So basically, the only way to change the message is to change the bodies you look at.
The positive body images are out there. We just have to be proactive about making them front and center. It’s the only reason why I started and finished all the seasons of the HBO series, “Girls.” You can read about that post here if you are interested.
Do you struggle with negative body image or lack body confidence? Is it something you’ve struggled with but overcome? I’d love to know how you did it!
*Are you in the market for a tankini?
These ones I’ve chosen below are great options for apple shapes. When choosing a tankini, the most flattering options have:
- Print on bottom and a solid dark color on top unless the print is small or lines are vertical in the torso area (to elongate the torso and widen the hip area).
- A gap between the top and the bottom to show skin and create a horizontal line widening the hip area if the top and bottom are the same color.
- A deep neckline to elongate the neck. Halter necklines are the most flattering.
*Are you an apple shape? Want a free capsule wardrobe made specifically for you? Fill out your email address here to download it and to subscribe to my exclusive monthly newsletter.
Apple Shapes: Get Dressed Faster and Look Better in Your Clothes. Get Your Free Capsule Wardrobe Now.
- 12 pieces = 35 outfits
- tips for choosing each piece specific to flattering your shape
- picture of author wearing each outfit so you can visualize the items on an apple shape