Things that I wish I knew earlier. Things that I've learned in real life. Things people really need to talk about more:
Everyone has rolls when they bend over. Everyone. Lets just get this out of the way right off the bat. In the last few months, I've had over 30 women ranging from rail thin to extra large naked in my bed and I would routinely ask them to hug their knees. You wont believe this... ALL OF THEM HAD TUMMY ROLLS. Not one was exempt. Even my super fabulous professional model 6 foot tall and some amazing Katie had rolls. The stomach pictures turned into some of my favorite images from the project... so quit thinking they're bad, and try accepting (dare I say embracing?) yours!
When people say "you're gorgeous," believe them. I tend not to, and it's a cryin' shame. When people genuinely compliment you, it's because they really see it. Try to not dismiss their perspective as wrong and assume that you know better. They see all of you. We see our flaws. Believe them.
"Arm flab is embarrassing." No its not, go fuck yourself. No, not you. The people who tell us that, silly.
You're not stunning despite your body. You're stunning because of your body. There is a distinct difference. I grew up in a culture that would deem "unattractive" women as "special spirits." A degrading categorization that implied that the only thing worthwhile was whatever was inside. Well, yeah. We are all much much more than our bodies, but our bodies are a beautiful part of us too. Beauty comes from the inside AND the outside. I am of the firm belief that every person is beautiful, and so this leaves the inside to be the part that is the most telling when it comes to true "beauty."
A guy can pick you up off your feet, and it won't break his back. "Wait, whaaaaaa Jes? You're full of shit." Nope. This just happened to me for the first time in... six years? I'm considerably heavier than I was six years ago (like... 70 pounds heavier) and so when I ran up to my friend Eric for a hug and he picked me up with my heels in the air... it left me breathless. I had forgotten that it was possible; I had accepted a life void of being lifted. So exhilarating. Eric didn't suffer any injuries and walked away unscathed.
You don't need to exercise every day in order to feel better about yourself. Many believe that someone who's fat needs to exercise as much as possible in order to prove that they're committed to becoming "less fat." As if accepting one's body as is would be a sin, and that's just silly. Yes, exercising has wonderful physical and mental benefits, but you don't owe it to anyone else to make an effort to change your body unless you wanna. You do not have to alter yourself to be okay. Period.
You're allowed to fall in love with yourself. I promise. This will be the scariest thing you will ever do, and that's okay. It will also be the most amazing (albeit super gradual) experience you will ever have. It doesn't make you narcissistic. It doesn't make you vain. It is liberating in every form of the word.
Jes Baker is mental health professional, pastry chef, ex-art major, crazy cat lady, fat model and fiery advocate. She blogs at The Militant Baker. You can read about Jes's latest body-positive project, The Body Love Conference.
Photos by Liora K Photography.