Body Positivity in the Face of Change

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Last weekend I walked into a boutique with my mom and was immediately hit with an old, but familiar feeling. It was that strong unpleasant sense of entering a store that really only caters to women up to size 6 - the anxiety of thinking the staff members might be looking down on you, the fear of any item catching your eye because you know it won't be offered in your size. It took me a moment to remember that with my post-breast reduction body, I might actually be able to pick out a top I could wear. Somehow that was still upsetting.

Here's the thing, as someone who has been fighting hard to love my body since I sprouted obvious curves in middle school, I resisted the idea of surgery for so long because it felt like giving in. I felt sure that I had to learn to love my body as it was, not as a surgeon could make it -  despite the fact that I was living with what was sometimes debilitating chronic pain. I realize now that I had simply misunderstood what body positivity really meant. Bodies change. That's a fact of life. Weight fluctuates, stretch marks form, wrinkles develop. That's just a part of life. Part of body positivity is embracing yourself through the changes.

My brain is still getting used to the massive change I've undergone. I find it bizarre to see my new, drastically smaller chest paired with the other, frankly thicker, features I'm used to. Of course, healing wounds aren't pretty, but I find comfort at least in the fact that through this process I've only gained more appreciation for my body. It survived a hell of a procedure. It's working hard to heal. I look at myself and see strength and beauty, and for the first time in a long time, someone who is both physically and mentally at ease.

I wish I had tips to share with you all. I know body insecurities are tragically, unimaginably common and learning to deal with them is one of the hardest mental struggles. I want to say fake it 'til you make it (which honestly can be helpful)! But really, what I want to say the most is that body positivity, like your body itself, is fluid. It is absolutely okay to have bad days. You are not a body positivity fraud if you struggle sometimes. Walking into that boutique last weekend, I felt ashamed of my residual shame and angry at the system that helped create it. Today, I feel more confident than ever. It's all okay. We're all just human. Be as kind to yourself as you can because honestly, I think that might be enough.

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