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.