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Carmen Rene Column: Why Is It So Hard To Love Our Bodies?

Carmen-Rene-#eatthecaketoo - Curvicality Magazine
“We are not born hating our bodies, we are taught to.” 

This quote has always been so powerful to me and deeply motivating in my own journey toward body love and acceptance. 

For those of you who are new to the Curvicality family, I’m the one who is always half naked or in a bikini on Facebook and Instagram. If you had met me 10 years ago, or even six, I would have thought you were crazy for even suggesting I might do such a thing. 

My name is Carmen Rene, aka @eatthecaketoo and like you, I’m still a work in progress when it comes to loving this beautiful body of mine. The journey however, is one I wouldn’t trade for anything and simultaneously wish none of us ever had to take. 

I was born with a condition called lymphedema and genetics that would ensure a chubby life ahead. Regardless, I was still born with all the opportunities for a good, confident life with a body I didn’t know was “bad” until the world began telling me so. This cycle is vicious and nearly impossible to escape given the power we give to media, fashion, and the unrealistic beauty and body standards in our society.

My body image issues, like those of so many, started as a child and thus, the cycle continued. I was in Weight Watchers by sixth grade and in a battle with the scale for the majority of my life. Why? Because the world around me taught me to. I hated my cellulite and “cottage cheese” thighs and butt. Why? Because someone told me thin materials weren’t flattering for parts of my bodies that weren’t smooth. I hid my body away for a good part of my life because that’s what I learned fat bodies should do — hide. 

So what changed? It wasn’t until my mid 20s when I really started to question EVERYTHING. I credit that a lot to my long-term boyfriend who encouraged me to view things I thought I knew through a different, more open minded lens. I also credit women who pioneered the body positive movement with their beautiful, unapologetic bodies.

One day, I asked myself this question: “Why do I hate my body?” Not what do I hate about my body, but why! The answer I came up with was quite simple. Someone else (i.e. family members stuck in their own cycle of self hate, the media, the fashion industry, beauty industry, diet industry, etc) had been telling me my body wasn’t good enough my entire life. 

So, here I was with a choice to make. Do I keep going down this path of feeling at war with my body, or do I start making a real effort to embrace this vessel that does so much for me? Hint: I chose the second option. 

When I tell you it’s a journey, I mean it. There is no magic formula for loving your body. There is only patience, love, determination and work! 

Here are a few tips I like to share if you are new to this journey or need a little refresher course:

  1. Mirror Talk: Everyday, I get in the mirror and say something nice about my body. Start small if you need to! There are no wrong answers here, but rather a helpful way to start retraining our brains to see everything right with our bodies, instead of what we would like to change. 
  2. No Negative Body Talk: Slowly limiting and eventually eliminating negative body talk is so powerful! We have normalized talking bad about our bodies to the point we almost don’t even know we are doing it! Remember, your body hears everything your brain tells it. And often, the young people in our lives do as well. Break the cycle! 
  3. Unfollow People In Real Life: Unfollowing people who make you feel bad about your body online is SO important. I credit a lot of womxn I follow with getting me through really tough days. If the folks on your timeline aren’t making you feel uplifted, unfollow! In real life, it isn’t that simple. However, we can consciously distance ourselves from those who make us feel judged, or less than because of our bodies. 

For many of us, we have decades of negative body image to unlearn. Remember to be kind to yourself and to be patient. On our journey, we will always have goals for our bodies along with ups and downs. The hope is to love ourselves through it all. 

You deserve to love your body. Let’s make it happen, together. 

XO,

Carmen Rene  

 

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