Body Positivity and Self-Love by Ella Norman, Founder of The Pink Room
Today's article is by the wonderful Ella Norman from The Pink Room: a shop + therapy space in Leeds that is entirely dedicated to empowering women and freeing us all from patriarchal conditioning. She is kindly offering all readers a 10% discount on her online shop, simply enter the code 'IAMAQUEEN' at check out.
Self-love. Something most of us could do with a little more of! As a business owner whose entire focus is to build self-compassion and belief in women, you’d think I’d have all the answers, but lemme tell you - I don’t. What I do know is that we, as women, have been socialised from the moment we were conceived to believe our value is determined by how we look. We have a whole history of un-learning to do. Now, after a lorra lorra personal growth, on those days that I am full to the brim with self-loathing I notice it, take a step back and forgive myself - knowing that it is the system at fault, not me. Now, as time passes the number of times I self-deprecate is decreasing and my self-worth is growing - so I guess I have some answers.
There is a hella lot of pressure to be “body positive”, as if that is what we need - more pressure. Like a few social media posts are going to change a lifetime of brainwashing. True body positivity isn’t standing in the mirror nude and telling yourself you are beautiful, it isn’t the act of believing you are beautiful despite your “flaws”. True body positivity really has nothing to do with your body or how you look, it is the unpicking of the narratives and stories you tell yourself about your worth, it is the realisation that you are valuable - totally regardless of how you look.
I dunno if you know but NEWSFLASH you can now be fat according to beauty standards. The body positivity movement seen on social media and in the press, with women like Iskra and Ashley Graham at its forefront, is yet another example of capitalist marketing telling us how we should feel about our bodies. You can be fat, but only the right kind of fat AND if you don’t love yourself - why girl!?
Imagine all the energy you have spent throughout your life focusing on your body, what you eat, what you wear, how you do your hair, make-up etc etc, if you’re anything like me you’ll have felt the depths of emotion entirely triggered by weight gain or what you see in the mirror, or felt utter shame because of a series of photos, dreaded seeing people from your past because of how you look…There have been huge celebrations in my life that I have been unable to enjoy because I have been so consumed with what I looked like, or have been uncomfortable in an outfit and self-conscious. There have been career opportunities I haven't felt worthy of because I’ve felt fat. Every single meal tortured by what I want to eat, and what I “should” eat. Planning life around diets and being consumed with guilt when I break it. When I look back at my relationship with my body and food it feels absurd, but I know that the majority of women in my life have experienced the same. Now imagine taking that energy and directing it into your career, or your passions, your relationships, experiences etc and imagine investing all the money you have spent on meeting unrealistic beauty standards on joyful experiences. You’d feel rich! Or even spend that energy of telling yourself you are worthy! You can see why body positivity and fat phobia are huge feminist issues when beauty standards are constructed by the men at the top of the ladder. I could go on about this, but I won’t because what you came here for is to learn more about self-love but if you want to learn more about fat phobia head to The Anti Diet Riot Club - a rebel community fighting against diet culture.
So, what can I tell you about body positivity that can help you love yourself more?
First of all, I need to remind you that you ARE more valuable than how you look. Your value is immense and immeasurable. I don’t personally know you but I can’t name a single woman who does not possess immense value, so logic tells me every one of us is worthy. The trick is realising what those things are. I, for example, am an excellent friend, partner and mother - some things our society does not deem valuable. I am also really creative, compassionate, patient and loyal. I make really good food and have a fantastic appetite for new eating experiences! I have immeasurable empathy, a blessing and a curse. I am emotionally intelligent, thanks to all the empathy. I am super observant, and a great project manager. There are loads of things that make me valuable beyond how I look, a barrel load. It took me some time to realise it, but now when those toxic demons raise their heads I have something to fall back on - I am enough exactly as I am, I am more than a body. And you are too.
So, some practical advice:
The thing that comes up time and time again with clients when asked what makes them valuable, is that they don’t know. In those moments, I encourage them to turn to the people they love and ask them the question - what am I really good at? What are my values? Why do you love me? Gather those things into a notebook and keep hold of it. If you struggle to know your worth, write it down, add to the list and come back to it time and time again. Your own little love note to yourself.
This is what I love about the LSW Mind Notes Journal. The prompts in the journal can be specifically used for body positivity and helping you notice the stories you tell yourself and how often you truly are affected by how you feel about your body.
Because, like with anything else, knowledge is power - and the first step to freedom from diet culture is knowing how it has affected you and what it triggers within you each day. So that you can become aware of it happening, pause and let go of it. Time after time. Until those thoughts stop coming.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post for LSW Self-Love Series. I am Ella - owner of The Pink Room. A shop + therapy space in Leeds that is entirely dedicated to empowering women and freeing us all from patriarchal conditioning.
You are enough. Exactly as you are, right now.
You can find Ella's shop The Pink Room in The Corn Exchange in Leeds - they are a stockist of LSW London.