By Jessica Villemarette
Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Being a victim of sexual child abuse had a lot to do with the way I perceived body positivity at a young age. I had very little self-esteem and suffered from the fear of not being good enough. For the longest time, I didn’t like the way I looked when I stood in front of the mirror. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my first daughter that I changed my self-perception. I realized that I needed to stop letting being a victim of sexual child abuse define me.
Speaker and author Steve Maraboli said, “When you accept yourself just as you are, you are freed from the burden of needing others to accept you.” Some people get confused about exactly what body positivity means. Body positivity is a social movement that advocates the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race or appearance.
To me, body positivity begins with your state of mind. A healthy mind feeds a healthy body and a healthy soul.
That’s getting harder and harder to achieve. Social media plays a huge role in shaping what we consider attractive, especially with younger generations. What we see on TV or scrolling through social media can change our perception of ourselves. We see the girl wearing the sexy bikini, or the guy with the ripped abs, and we immediately criticize our bodies — lamenting that we don’t look like that and wondering what we can do to change ourselves. We are unable to separate real life from social media life. Not everything we see on social media is true — shocker, right?!
SO HOW DO WE PROMOTE BODY POSITIVITY?
- Surround yourself with positivity.
- Focus on the things you like about yourself.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Absorb body-positive messages.
- Focus on you as a whole person, not just your appearance.
These things are easier said than done. I still have moments when I question myself, moments when I get lost in uncertainty and wonder whether I’m being a good role model for my girls. I want them to know they are beautiful inside and out. I want them to never have a doubt and always hold their heads high.
Body positivity isn’t just about physical appearance. Who cares if you are skinny, thick, tall, short, black, white, have brown or green eyes or have long hair or no hair? Real beauty is in how you engage in conversation, how you carry yourself and how you treat others.
Body positivity is becoming obsessed with the best version of you. Results happen over time, not overnight. Work hard, stay consistent and be patient.
Once you’re under way on your self-love journey, spread that positivity! Imagine telling someone something positive, encouraging him or her, or just asking, “How are you today?” What if doing one of these things changed someone’s mindset? We need more humanity. We need to extend unconditional love to each and every living being on earth, and if we all did that, imagine how our world would change.
Villemarette is a married mom of two daughters, Keelie and Laynie, and a participant in the Brandi State Portraiture Bold, Beautiful & Perfect Project, which strives to help women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds realize they are bold, beautiful and perfect just as they are. Learn more about Jessica at https://brandistage. com/2020/04/06/bold-beautiful-perfect-jessica.