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Welcome to “Dear Ms. Andry,” FEM’s advice column inspired by misandry. Ms. Andry is here to answer all your questions about body positivity, your creepy boss, coming out to your parents, and more! Submit your questions here.
Hi Ms. Andry,
I don’t know where I fit in — I’m usually a size 6–8 but in no way do I consider myself to be thin, so I feel weird identifying with the body positive movement. I don’t feel like I should — I’m not discriminated against due to my size, BUT I really struggle with self love…do you have any advice?
Your feelings are completely valid. In a world where people’s bodies are picked apart by the media on a daily basis, and we are constantly bombarded with images of the “perfect body,” it can be incredibly difficult to love yourself. Regardless of your size/weight/appearance, it is totally valid to feel incapable of self-love, but you are so worthy of that — or whatever will bring you the most peace. There is a lot of pressure to be part of the body positivity movement and to love yourself wholly and completely, but that might not make sense for you at this moment.
It’s important to acknowledge that the body positivity movement was started by Black women who considered themselves plus-size or fat. The movement’s goals were to reject the Western, patriarchal ideas about size and call out the discrimination fat people faced on a daily basis because of their size. The movement has subsequently been co-opted by white women (what’s new?) and has taken on more of a #girlboss connotation in mainstream media, but there are still countless body-positive activists fighting for what the movement initially advocated for. I would say your instinct to choose not to identify with the body positivity movement is the right one because you are not discriminated against based on your size. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the resources these movements provide and try to find a perspective on your body that works for you.
Here are some steps I would take to move closer to a place of self-love. It doesn’t happen overnight and you might never get to a place where you completely accept your body as it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some variation of peace in the process. First, unfollow every social media account that makes you feel insecure (e.g. Kylie Jenner or honestly all of the celebrities who endlessly photoshop their images and exploit your insecurities for profit). The goal is to not compare your body to others, so if the temptation isn’t there, you won’t do it.
Second, follow a bunch of people who look like you and have similar body types. For me, when I saw people that looked like me wearing clothes I liked or going places that I enjoyed, it made it easier to picture myself doing those things as well. It’s usually easier to see other people as beautiful before you see yourself that way — and if those people look like you, that feeling could eventually transfer over.
Finally, I recommend an alternative mindset: body neutrality. This involves figuring out what you like about yourself that has nothing to do with your body. Are you a talented writer, an amazing cook, or a really great listener? What makes you feel proud of who you are? It helps to even have just one trait you can come back to when your appearance makes you feel unworthy. Some people stay in a body-neutral perspective for a long time because it works for them — not everyone needs to achieve the coveted idea of “self-love.”
Practice whatever gives you peace.