Chelsea Miller is a model, fitness junkie, and outspoken advocate for changing the way we talk about health and curvy bodies. She writes about working out, health, her skincare obsessions, and more on her blog, Watch Her Glow, and we’re thrilled to have her as a contributor for THE/THIRTY. This month, she tells us about her journey to loving her body.
Like so many women, I have been dieting for as long as I can remember. I started to hate my body around the age of 8. No child should be concerned about the size of her thighs at the age of 8 years old, especially since I was an incredibly fit and healthy young girl. But so I went on hating the way I looked, punishing my body for continuing to grow in ways that I thought made me less beautiful, less desirable, less important, and just overall less than. I tried everything under the sun to be thinner: diet pills, fad diets, no-food detoxes, among many other things.
I can’t say for sure what my turning point was, but I definitely think social media had something to do with it. Until social media, I had no idea there were so many women out there struggling with their own body image and negative self-talk. I was able to find accounts and people who embraced their so-called "flaws" and called themselves body positive. After watching from afar, I was intrigued, impressed, and eventually inspired to venture out on my own body-positive experience.
But before I dive into that, I wanted to share that body positivity is not just a "big-girl movement" as some have called it. It is meant for literally everyBODY! There is no one thing that disqualifies you from being eligible to join this community of people. There are many definitions for body positive, but for me, it is accepting and appreciating my body in the moment and in all the stages of my life. It means that I try to remember that there is so much more to me and to others than just our outward appearances. Our worth has no direct correlation to our physicality. My definition may be different than other people's within the community, but that's what makes it so incredibly beautiful. Every single person who goes on a self-love journey will have a different experience and will bring something new and important to an ever-growing community of people.
>So came the day that I posted my very first body-positive post on social media. I was nervous for many reasons. Will the body-positive community accept me? Will my friends and family appreciate my post? Will people call me fat? If I'm being honest here, I was probably most fearful of what people would call me, online and offline. But I put it up, and I was blown away at the response it received. Not only were people kind and complimentary, but I had women on my page saying my confidence was so encouraging and inspiring. Wait—are you talking to me? The girl who was terrified of rejection before posting this photo? I was obsessed with the feelings that followed, and those feelings grew as I posted more about body confidence and self-love more often. I was genuinely finding new reasons to appreciate my body for the incredible things it could do and caring less that it wasn't the ideal shape or size I wanted.
>Looking back, I realize that this was one of those moments that I had to fake it until I made it. Negative or positive, if you tell yourself something enough times, you will eventually believe it. I started to believe that my body was beautiful and that it was worthy of being treated well, and now no one could tell me anything different. But also during this process, you never know who you are inspiring or who is watching you. Someone very close to me once told me that I had inspired her to buy more clothes that showed her arms. She always wore sleeves because she hated how big her arms were. It still makes me smile to know that sharing my journey inspires strangers and closer friends and family as well.
>Which brings me to today. I don't post about body positivity as often because I try to live it and no longer feel the need to post as frequently. But I've also gotten some questions around my dedication to the movement as well because of my constant pursuit of health and wellness. Someone once asked me, "If you love yourself and your body, why do you work out so much?" Or "Why do you eat as healthy as you do? Why not let your body be what it is and love it?" And to me, that is counterintuitive. I love my body so much that I nourish it with delicious and nutritious foods. I love it so much that I want to make sure that it doesn't give up on me before my soul is ready to move on. I appreciate what my body is able to do for me so much that in return, I want to care for it as best I can.
>So to those people I say, "How can you be body positive and not do these things for your body?" But that judgment is not for me to make—that is something that we all need to determine for ourselves. Ask, Am I doing enough for myself? Regardless of how my body changes over the years, I am determined to continue being body positive for my own well-being. I have a healthier relationship with my self-conscious, a healthier relationship with food, and I feel less pressure to be something that I am not. Overall my life is a lot more positive, and being positive is good for your health, people!
>There are so many things that body positivity has ultimately changed about me and the way I think about not only myself but also others. Here's just a small example: I was guilty of harshly judging a woman's appearance strictly because she was famous and didn't feel real—that’s what people do, right? At least, that's what society says is normal and okay. I see it on the tabloids every time I check out at a grocery store, on social media, and even on the news channels!
>So I started by simply not making negative comments or participating in negative talk about others' appearances. And more importantly, stopped the negative talk with and about myself. If someone else brings up another person's appearance, I try to come up with something positive about them instead of chiming in. It's now something that is very natural to me, and I take pride in being able to lift others up instead of tearing them down. Even if they have no idea I’ve got their back, it still feels good!
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