When Body Positivity Failed Me

I've always been critical of my body. I'm incredibly self-conscious too, which leads to great social anxiety. I worry way too much about what other people think, and rarely have a good opinion about myself.

So when I made a human with this body of mine, I decided to try something new.

I was devastated when I hopped on the scale for the first time about a month after I'd pushed that new little person out into the world. I had banned scales from my life for a long time but since none of my clothes fit and my belly wasn't going anywhere, I decided to see what had become of myself.

Shock. Horror. Sakes alive, what on earth have I done?

Oh sure, it was all fun and games when I was pregnant and enthralled with my growing waistline. I thought it was laughable when my pants were too small. Hey, I was pregnant! Bring on the french fries! Its all baby anyways...right??

I wasn't laughing anymore when I was left with only maternity clothes to wear and a saggy belly with no muscle tone whatsoever that made me look about five months pregnant long after birth.

But I kept telling myself, "Its ok...remember you just made a person with this body! Love it! Embrace it! BODY POSITIVITY!!" This is, after all, what the world shouts at women like me on a daily basis.

So I bought some bigger clothes and went about my postpartum recovery like no big deal. Maybe this is my new normal, I thought. Maybe I just have to learn to love the fact that I am easily 50+ pounds heavier than I would like to be. Maybe I just have to get used to my knees hurting and wearing plus size clothing. Curves are beautiful too, right?

So I tried out this way of thinking for a few months, all the while cursing everything I'd ever been told about how your baby weight just falls off when you breastfeed (worst lie ever).

I tried.

I tried being content with my new body, loving it regardless of what size it was. I tried giving myself a break and justifying my choices by blaming it on the little one sleeping in my arms. I tried moving on and being happy with myself.

But it didn't work.

This time, being "body positive" failed me.

I saw a picture of myself playing with my son, and I nearly cried. There I was, smiling, joyful, and yet I hardly recognized myself. This was not ok with me.

I finally faced myself and was honest. This is not who I am. I am better than this. I am not a lazy, complacent, overweight girl trying desperately to convince myself that I am ok. I do not give up like this. I have not worked so hard to fix my health in other areas only to be slovenly and ignorant in this one. Where is the inspired girl I once was? I am better than this. I can do better than this. I can be better than this.

I know that my happiness is not defined by the size pants I wear. I get that. I know that my body has done something incredible and therefore deserves a little grace. I agree. But the complacency of being "body positive" without positively working to improve my body did nothing but riddle me with guilt and self-loathing.

Because where does it stop? What happens if I have another baby, and gain more weight with that pregnancy? Do I just keep gaining and gaining till I'm three or four hundred pounds? All in the name of being body positive?

I don't want be the mom that avoids getting her picture taken, or when she does, later grits her teeth at the sight of it and can't even appreciate the sweet moment with her baby because she's too overwhelmed by what she sees in herself there. I want to be able to run and play with my boy, to get down on the floor and build Lego cities with him without my saggy belly getting in the way, and simply to feel good about myself again.

Preaching body positivity without positive improvement of one's body is nothing but a cop out. It may be a great way to get around the guilt of being overweight and unhealthy, but it is far from positive. If we want to be positive about our bodies, we need to never stop working to improve them. We must quit using our babies and our pregnancies as excuses to be fat and lazy. It's one thing to love our bodies...it's another thing to throw our hands in the air and say, "Whatever. This is as good as its gonna get!"

If we truly love our bodies, we will get up off of our fat, lazy butts and move. We will eat well, and seek to nourish ourselves rather than just satisfy ourselves. We will recognize that while pregnancy may be exhausting, growing a human is no reason to give up on healthy eating and exercise.

Love may conquer all, but love should never sit idly by and watch the world burn. We can love our bodies without letting them fall apart.



  1. I came across a link to your blog a while back on one of the HSA forums. Just recently got around to reading several of your entries and it was like a breath of fresh air. There are very few blogs that I find refreshing and encouraging, but this is definitely one of them. :)


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