What Being Unapologetically Fat, Happy & Body Positive Means To Me

I often wonder what the face of the body positivity is supposed to truly look like.

When I see women hailed as body positive in the media, it usually spotlights those who are naked, partially naked or in swimsuits. I don’t have an issue with that as those women are showing how they are body positive in their own way.

I am sure they feel empowered to be able to show their bodies in their natural state, not covered up, saying “This is me and I accept my flaws”. They are telling the world that they are beautiful, even though their bodies are not what may be deemed “perfect” in society. And I applaud that.

However, what does that mean for those of us who prefer to stay fully clothed and not show ourselves in a naked light? Are we not body positive too? I personally often feel I am body positive in a naked world where I am in the minority.

The media hails those who wear swimsuits or posing nude on social media as “brave” and “inspiring”. I don’t dispute that because for those women, taking that step may have been a big deal.

I’ve even noticed on my own social media channels that when I post an image where I am channeling my inner sexy with a form-fitting dress or showing off my legs, those images get more likes than those pics where I am just out and about in jeans and a tee, having fun. Why do we equate sexiness and being almost nude with being body positive? Isn’t being body positive a way of life, a belief?

I saved the best for last. In 2016, I wore a #swimsuit after not wearing one for almost 20 years. And it felt good. It felt librating. It felt right. Next summer I'll be hitting the beach daily. I've grown up blocks from the beach & fear and lack of self-esteem held me back from enjoying what was right THERE. Those days are over. Swimsuit: @alwaysformellc ?: @jmilagrosphotography #afmswimsquad #plussizeswim #plussizeswimwear #plussizefashion #plussizestyle #fashionisforeveryone #fashionforall #allbodiesarebeautiful #bodyacceptance #bodypos #bodypositive #celebratemysize #goldenconfidence #tcfstyle #effyourbeautystandards #livefully #loveyourself #loveyou #confidence #fearlesslyjustme #40plusstyle #24plusstyle #beautyknowsnosize #enjoythenow #styleoverasize24 #latinablogger #lifeisgood

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As a size 26/28 woman, I have to tell you… I don’t need to strip down to my underwear to show my flaws. I live in a large body. I have large upper arms, a belly, large legs, etc. I can be fully clothed and you can see that.

Every single day I choose to leave my house, I am choosing to be seen in a world that doesn’t accept me. As I have said before, being fat and happy pisses many people off. Therefore, I am a walking billboard for being unapologetically fat and happy, which means dealing with the BS from those who think I should not be happy in a large body.

It feels as if I am already an activist by choosing to live my life as a fat person, whether I like it or not because I am not conforming to anyone else’s rules or opinions. I am choosing to live by my own standards.

I decided one day that I didn’t want to hide anymore and chose to live in the body I am in now.

Those of us, like myself and Lexie Louise, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey, are the unseen body positive warriors out there. The journey to share our stories and inspire others doesn’t stop because we are not seen by the media and the masses.

Lexie has actually built a big following on Instagram at @soworthsaving, without the help of the media. Recently, she was finally “seen”, giving me hope that the face of body positivity is finally changing within the media.

She posted a side by side image of herself on Instagram, one with only a bra on and the other fully clothed, saying in both pics she is body positive. Reading her caption made me feel like she was speaking for me and others who choose to remain fully clothed but still be a vital part of the body positive movement:

There's this misconception that in order to be Body Positive, you must "bare it all" on social media. I choose to post more "vulnerable" photos of myself because I feel empowered to do so. To be honest, it took me some time to get to this place. I used to be terrified of posting even an unedited selfie of my face on my private Facebook page. It took me time to get more comfortable with this. And that is okay. I want to let you know that you do not have to post more "revealing" photos of yourself to participate in Body Positivity. I have noticed that my more "revealing" posts get way more exposure and likes and comments. I think that's a flaw in the system; it is visual that we get drawn into quickly and we see it as brave to show our bodies as they are. I personally think it is brave. I have struggled with my body image for countless years and I know for myself that posting photos like the one on the left is brave for me. The "flaw in the system" I'm speaking to isn't around our bravery; it's about putting so much of the focus on our bodies. There can also be bravery in our words. There can be bravery found in the photo on the right if for years I was too scared to post a photo of my whole body. This is for the people who have messaged me about this dynamic in the community. This is for the people who feel disheartened because they feel like they cannot make as big of an impact without posting something they aren't ready to share. You can inspire others fully dressed. You can inspire others half naked or naked. I think the flaw in the system isn't ever going to go away, and that's okay. I wanted to take some time here to acknowledge it though because I think it's important. I may inspire you through me posting photos similar to the one on the left. I am also inspiring through my actions, my words, my story, my struggles, and my strength. You are enough as you are and I commend you if you post more "vulnerable" photos like I do. And I also commend you if you aren't comfortable with doing so yet or at all. Come as you are and do what feels comfortable and empowering for you – not for others. ??

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Major media outlets such as Cosmopolitan and Self wrote about Lexie’s Instagram post and it inspired me to speak out too.

As someone in her 40’s, some may expect me to be a bit more conservative or old-fashioned. However, Lexie is 22 and she shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are. You choose how you want to show yourself to the world. If you want to be fully clothed, that is your choice. If you want to show yourself naked or in lingerie, that is your choice. We are ALL body positive in our own ways.

We have to show that body positivity has many faces. I have three young nieces and I would never want them to think they have to get naked, be in their underwear or walk around in a bikini to show that they love themselves.

I want them to know that they are beautiful and can use other ways to show their confidence and body positivity. I don’t want them to feel pressured to strip down or look a certain way to prove anything to anyone. They should be able to choose how they express themselves, whether it’s through their style or through their talents and gifts.

I want them to feel that they have a choice to be who they want to be, naked or not.

Sure, being fully clothed may not capture headlines or several likes but it is not any less than the naked person showing off their stretch marks. We are ALL worthy of being a part of the body positive movement because if we show love to all bodies, that includes fully clothed ones too.

To me, being body positive means being accepting of all bodies regardless of size, age, gender or color. It means recognizing that we all come in different packages but that does not mean we are any less beautiful. Our uniqueness and imperfections make us all incredible human beings. To me, it essentially means loving ALL bodies and seeing the beauty in all of them.

Being body positive isn’t just for us plus size folks or the naked. It’s for everyone.

You can read more about my journey to living fat and fearless here and follow me on Instagram here.