Rants

Being involved in the body positive community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. On a regular basis, I have had the privilege of joining womxn in their personal and collective fight for greater body-diversity and self-acceptance. It has truly been both a humbling and rewarding journey.

At the same time, my eyes have been torn open to the amount of body shaming and outright disrespect for human feeling that often follows when someone announces that they are perfectly okay with the way they look.

This is especially true on social media. Somehow, movements that encourage body acceptance have been manipulated and reused as a way to put down those who do not outwardly appear to fit into the body positive mould. I have experienced this first hand, with people telling me that it is unfair for me to preach about body-acceptance and self-love because I am not a plus-size womxn.

These statements are so back-headedly insulting that when I receive them, I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry.

First of all, my personal journey to finally feeling at home in my body, has been anything but easy. I have fought long and hard to get to this place, as many others have. Our stories are as unique as our bodies, and we owe it to each other to operate out of a place of curiosity instead of judgement. This will foster compassion, understanding and unity as we continue to push through barriers placed on the notion of female beauty.

Let me be very clear. Being plus size is not a requirement for being body positive. Body positivity is a state of mind and was founded on the belief that, thin or thick, all bodies are beautiful. Our outward appearances do not define who we are at the core, and so the body positive movements should have more to do with our personal journeys than with our weight or body size.

Self-love and body acceptance are not sacred rights reserved for a lucky few; everyone deserves to share their stories and to celebrate themselves, flaws and all.

Regardless of size or weight, I recognize and praise womxn who appreciate their bodies, and have tremendous respect for those who are currently working towards a state of being that is truly in line with their soul’s purpose.

Who are we to judge someone based on their size? Who are we to automatically assume that it is easy for someone to practice self-love? In order to inspire others to value their bodies, do I need to be plus-sized?

It is time for us to stop this narrow-minded way of thinking. It is not a movement in which only plus size womxn can participate. Being body positive means loving, respecting and appreciating the body that you are in, right now. It means supporting, standing-up for and applauding those who are taking a brave step, whether it towards eating disorder recovery, or genuine self-love and acceptance.

So, let us keep the mean-spirited judgements to ourselves and move forward, because we all know that real women don't tear each other down, they lift each other up.

Jessica

Loss

Mom, 2014

Mom, 2014

My mother suddenly passed away a few weeks ago, just two days after her 71st birthday.  In many respects, I am still oscillating back and forth between being in denial and feeling completely numb. One minute I convince myself she is just on vacation and the next I am sitting on my bed staring blankly at her photo, trying to force myself to cry.

It all feels so surreal. I guess this is grief.

I have been watching my family closely, trying to grasp and latch onto aspects of their sorrow that I find strangely comforting. I call out to my mother several times a day, maybe because it makes me feel closer to her, or maybe because I feel like the days of saying her name out loud are numbered.

 I don’t want them to be.

I turn to the Internet to research grief and the loss of a parent, but the words terrify me. “A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones."

I have many friends who have lost a parent too soon, mostly fathers. What about them? And what about a son without a mother? Will my brother feel broken, too? What sort of pain will settle deep into his bones?

 I try to rationalize her death. She lived a beautiful life. At least she went quickly. But that doesn’t help, either.

Yes, by all accounts I am a grown woman. But I am 32. I am single and I have no children. My mother was my family. She was the center of my universe. My heart. My home.

 Her death has changed every dusty corner of my life and will completely transform the person I will become. I believe this to be true not only for myself, but for my family as well. 

I pray and I pray hard. It’s funny how, when things are going well, I feel like I don’t need faith. But from the very second I found out my mom was slipping away, I found myself clutching the rosary that had been collecting dust on my bed post for the past three years. This gives me peace. I know she is with me. I know she is in a better place.

 And yet, the worst is yet to come. The other shoe will inevitably drop and the depth of the loss will hit me like a truck. This terrifies me.

There are the tangible reminders of my mother’s life; her beautiful rings, her fine lace dresses, her hairbrush and her lipstick. And then, there are the reminders of grief that manifest themselves deep within my body. An aching heart, restless sleeps, exhaustion, not eating enough, eating too much. Before this, I had never realized what a profoundly physical experience loss can be.

 I can only describe these first weeks without my mom as trying to swim through molasses. But, life goes on. People hustle down the street, laugh with their families and have nights out with their friends. And while I desperately want all of them to feel the the pain that I do, I realize that I have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other. And thats just what I’m doing.

 I'm surviving.