My thoughts on body positivity

 

LuLaRoe button down dress

I guess because it’s summer time, we’re all wearing less and putting on bathing suits; I’m seeing a ton of posts about body positivity and embracing the squish. I am all for that and I think we need to see more posts like that but I don’t want us to get body positivity wrong. It’s trendy now to be like oh I’m body positive but then still hate your body for everything it isn’t. I can say this because I’ve spent the majority of my adult life hating my body and trying to make it smaller. I went on every fad diet there was hoping the next one would be the thing that would save me, that would make me feel worthy, that would help me fit in. On the surface it looks good, it looks as though I’m taking care of my body, something that is highly regarded in our culture. But internally I was abusing myself constantly. The measure of our health should not just a number on a scale but it should also include your mental status. Something we don’t talk about often enough is how we are feeling and what our mental health looks like. There is a huge stigma in our society around mental health. As long as you are fitting into the thin ideal that our society has, no one cares about how messed up you are on the inside.

LuLaRoe button down dress

For years I hated my body and I mean hated. I’m sad when I think back on just how much I loathed my thick legs and rolly belly. Even at my smallest, I still had thighs that touched and a roll in my stomach.  I spent years of my life so distracted by how I looked and so focused on how to make myself smaller. What diet could I go on next, how could I work out more and all the while I was distracted by these things, I wasn’t fully able to do the work I was called to do. I wasn’t fully present in my own life. As Brene Brown says, I was hustling for my worthiness.  Something I’ve learned over the last few years is that there is no weight limit on your worth. You can literally show up just as you are, no make up, hair a mess and your worth does not change. You can gain 30 lbs or lose 5 lbs and it does not change your worth because your worth is inherent.

LuLaRoe button down dress

Bopo has become pretty mainstream these days which means that we can get away from the root of the movement. The movement was started to help women in bigger bodies find a place to feel accepted. I think we get so focused on loving ourselves but I don’t think the opposite of body hate is body love. My sweet friend Amanda reminded me this week that it’s okay to not love every part of your body, you can just be neutral about it. The opposite of body hate isn’t body love, it’s actually body neutrality. And that’s where I am this summer. I’m going to wear shorts and tank tops and bathing suits. I don’t love my thighs or my back fat and that’s okay. This summer I’m trying to not feel any way about them. They are just there, kind of like my fingernails or eyelashes. I don’t spend hours of my day thinking about how my toes look and I shouldn’t spend hours of my day thinking about how my thighs looks either. I have been called to do important work and these thoughts don’t allow me to be fully present.

LuLaRoe button down dress

So I want to encourage this summer, put on your bathing suit or shorts or whatever and spend less time thinking about your body and more time thinking being present. Enjoying your kids at the pool, holding hands with your SO, walking confidently out in the world. I know I’m going to put on my super cute new bathing suit and think about my plans for world domination or how I’m going to grow my business and how I can bless the lives of others. Let me say it again in case you missed it the first time, your worth does not have a weight limit. You are allowed to exist in the world exactly how you are.

 

You are worthy and deeply loved,

xoxo

Tracy

 

Do you remember the first time someone called you fat?

Do you remember the first time someone called you fat or made you feel shame about your body?

I do. It was 5th grade, we were at a sleep over and I was the new kid. You should probably also know I was a new kid in a new country which makes being the new kid just that much harder. Not only do you have normal new kid anxiety but you are also dealing with a new culture, new expectations and new standards. I attended an English speaking school so thankfully there was no language barrier. We had just moved to Japan and I was finally invited to hang out with the popular girls.

There we were with our sleeping bags rolled out in a wagon wheel pattern. We laid on our stomachs, chins resting in our hands, giggling about boys we liked and teachers we hated. Then one of the girls said I’m going to ask a question and everyone has to answer truthfully. We all agreed. How much do you weigh? The girls started going around the circle and rattling off numbers. It got to me and I didn’t know mine because at that age, why would I know? Or care?

So they decided the only acceptable thing to do was to weigh me. They marched me upstairs to the bathroom and I got on the scale. There were a few other foreigners there but mostly Asian girls, they looked down at the number and started giggling and whispering to each other. Clueless, I looked down too only to realize that the number was significantly higher than all the numbers they had just minutes ago recited. In my mind I thought, Asians are built differently, smaller frame, more petite.

Americans are bigger boned by nature, women in my family especially were curvy. We’re just different, my mind said. The same way a chihuahua is made differently than a golden retriever. But it was too late, the damage had been done as I looked up and my eyes met their gaze. I felt a warmth come over me, it was the first time I felt shame over what my body looked like or what the number on the scale said. I wish I could say it was the last time but you know where this story is going because I am pretty sure you have a similar one.

LuLaRoe Shirley, LuLaRoe Lola, LuLaRoe Tracy Vazquez

I think that deep down I’ve always wanted to love myself, always inherently knew I had worth and value but other people, society, lack of extended sizes at stores, made me internalize that who I was wasn’t acceptable. That if I didn’t shrink my size, I wouldn’t matter because they didn’t make clothes for those people. Remember when designer jeans first became a big thing? I tried on the biggest size they had in 7 for all Mankind jeans and they barely zipped up.

I though to myself, I better not gain any weight or better yet, I should lose weight. If I don’t fit in these jeans, I won’t fit in. For years I put myself on crazy restrictive diets and over exercised to make my body into what I thought society wanted. I internalized the idea that clothing at the stores only went up to a size 12 therefore I must maintain that size 12 or force myself to get down to a size 10.

When in reality, I was doing damage to my body by not allowing it carbs, only drinking green juice, only allowing xxx amount of calories, despite being exhausted forcing myself to get up and run 3 miles before school all under the guise of “being healthy”. It took a huge life change, ahem quitting a steady paycheck, infertility issues and just general life dissatisfaction for me to finally turn inward and ask my body what it wanted.

It’s a process, it’s a journey, I’m still learning how to hear my body and allow what I denied myself for so many years. Slowly I’m learning that who I am and who I am becoming is who I was suppose to be all along.

LuLaRoe Tracy Vazquez, LuLaRoe Shirley, LuLaRoe Lolashout out to @kellieblogs for always making me feel like a champion

In my post Beauty and the {Instagram} Beast I talked about cleaning up your social media feeds, unfollowing anyone who makes you feel less than, not enough, unacceptable. For me that meant unfollowing some of my favorite celebrities, Busy Phillips, I love you girlfriend but I cannot hear about your Whole 30 or your Lekfit workouts for one more day. And then a huge second step to that is start following people who make you feel good about yourself.

Maybe they don’t look like you and that’s okay. Here is the thing, when you stop focusing on yourself and how you should look, you can start looking at and appreciating other people. Just like animals, people come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t ask a dog to become a monkey just like you wouldn’t ask a tall person to be shorter. I have found through this process a whole new community of women who love who they are and rock their confidence.

Brené Brown in her book, Braving the Wilderness says this:

“But I’ve discovered something wonderful, the steps between the city gates and the wilderness are the loneliest. Where safety is in the rear-view mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness and you’ll be shocked how many people already live there. Thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, becoming. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not void of flourishing, The wilderness is where all the creatives, prophets and system buckers and risk takers have always been, thriving. The walk out there is hard but the authenticity out there is life.”

I share these deeply personal and deeply vulnerable things with you not to solicit praise or fish for compliments but to let you know that I struggle too. Not to take anything away from the original intent of #metoo but I think there are so many of us that are struggling with our bodies in silence. If we bring light to those dark places, it loses it’s power. So if you’d like to reach out, I’m here. I’m happy to talk, cry, laugh, whatever you need.

More than anything I want you to know that you are worthy and deeply loved.

xoxo,

Tracy