As much as I wish it wasn’t the case, I have not always been the best friend to my body. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to change something about my appearance. I can recall times in high school where I would stand in front of the mirror looking at myself, and I could find something I didn’t like starting from my head all the way down to my toes. I was never a very heavy kid or teenager, but I was aware that there were certain parts about the way I looked that didn’t fit the beauty ideals set out by our society.
One day, I realized I could fix this “problem.” If I just altered what I ate and moved my body more, I would lose my dreaded belly “pooch.” Except, what I didn’t realize, is that losing weight doesn’t work that way – you don’t get to choose which parts of your body shrink and which parts don’t. Thus, I proceeded to lose weight, until I reached a point that my health became compromised. I claimed to be losing weight in the name of health, yet here I was, much less healthy than when I started dieting.
After some uncomfortable realizations and some therapy, I made my way back up to a healthier weight. However, I still didn’t feel very healthy in my head. My relationship with both food and my body were still not good. By the grace of some unknown force, I stumbled across a concept called “Health At Every Size” (HAES). This changed everything for me. You could be fat and healthy? That went against everything I’d ever been taught. But it made sense – because you could also be skinny and unhealthy.
Over the course of the next few years, I continued learning more about this concept, which led me to many more ideas about body acceptance and how we live in a culture that shames certain body types. Although HAES was my gateway to finding peace with not being as skinny as I desired, I eventually realized that the health aspect didn’t matter. Even if someone is unhealthy, it doesn’t make it okay to shame them for being the size they are, big or small.
The other thing I learned the more I researched, was that the only reason I was dissatisfied with my body is because someone arbitrarily decided what body shape is the most beautiful – and this has changed over time. But maybe my body could be beautiful, and I had just been conditioned to believe it wasn’t. And perhaps the $72 billion diet industry was playing a role in all of this as well…
So, where am I today with body image? It depends on the day. But overall I have a much better relationship to my body than I did back in my high school days. I have so much appreciation for all of the amazingly incredible things my body has been through and can do. I’ve learned to speak more kindly to myself and my body, and treat it more like a friend. Some days, I look in the mirror, and I really, truly think I look beautiful. And that was a place I never imagined getting to.
Coming to live at a naturist resort has helped push me a step further in my body acceptance journey. All shapes and sizes and differences are normalized, and I get a much more realistic look at the diversity of bodies than what typical media portrays. There are so many beautiful bodies! What I have been told “beautiful” looks like my whole life is such a narrow definition, and I’m excited to have expanded it. Being here, I also have to be brave and allow certain parts of myself to be exposed that I normally wouldn’t. It is both terrifying and absolutely freeing at the same time. But no one said stepping out of your comfort zone is comfortable. : )
Coming to love our bodies the way they are is a journey, and it can take time. But now that I’m on the other side, I can tell you that it is absolutely worth the struggle. If you want a place to come and be free and accepted for exactly what you are, come to Lupin. Every body is beautiful. Every body is welcome here.
By Kaitlyn 2019