I am a plus size woman… and I love myself. Even with every message in the media screaming at me that I shouldn’t.

People seem surprised to see me carry myself with such confidence, or that I dress so well “for my size” (why is that even a factor – can’t I just  dress well, period?), or that I’m “still beautiful” (forget the still, sheesh!). My experience is that women are more likely to give these compliments, and the only reason I can see (because I don’t think there’s THAT much girl on girl hate in the world) is that society tells them that women are meant to be an unachievable standard of “perfection”, and certainly slim or fit, so for me to embody things like beauty or confidence when I am rocking a plus size bod is to challenge everything the media has told them.

SECRET #1: The media lies.   

Weight is one of the last accepted forms of discrimination. Even with looking for a job, an employer cannot discriminate based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc, but there is nothing dictating that they cannot discriminate against your weight. I’ve had an employer offer me a gym membership as an incentive. I’ve been asked if I was the “right person” for a job I’d been doing successfully for two years when the company was being bought out by a weight loss clinic. I’ve even had a taxi driver ask me one evening if I had a medical condition and that’s why I was overweight – out of the blue – no context whatsoever. On all of this I’d like to politely call bullsh*t.

SECRET #2: The cosmetic companies lie.

I have much younger sisters and now a teenage stepson, and I’ve had to talk to each of them about thinking critically. Consider the source. If the person telling you that you are not good enough exactly as you are, profits from you changing… don’t believe them. Cosmetic companies have been taking credit for women’s beauty for God knows how long… No, maybe she actually IS born with it.  Full disclosure here – sometimes I LOVE getting made up… hair, make up, lipstick, the works. But I don’t wear it as a mask. I don’t need it to feel secure. Make up doesn’t make me beautiful. My big, open heart, my deep capacity to love, my hope, my drive, my inspiration… these things make me beautiful. And they make you beautiful too.

On a similar note, all of the wrinkle creams on the market stigmatize getting older. Like Hollywood not casting women over 40 isn’t bad enough. I think the whole anti-aging movement is a total crock. Why can’t we own our wrinkles and our laugh lines? Each is a marker of the life we’ve lived… every laugh, every sorrow, every smile… Our experiences live within us, and our outsides should reflect as much. Taryn Brumfitt has this incredible quote that I love. She says “My wrinkles remind me that life is short and the bucket list is long.”

SECRET #3: You are perfect. Just as you are.

Today I was approached by a weight loss blog about doing a sponsored ad post for Pampered Goddess. They felt we were a perfect fit – we both target women of a certain type, so why not? I politely declined, but felt very incensed which is why I’m writing this post.  For some women, dieting and weight loss is NOT about empowerment… in fact, while some women do feel empowered by taking control of this element of themselves that they want to change, the large majority end up on this emotional roller coaster, often ending in a downward shame spiral. I want no part of that. If you do something to make yourself feel good – I am behind you with pompoms, cheering you away. But aligning myself with a blog that tells you to change, or that you aren’t perfect – just as you are, is not in line with my values.

In social media I often refer to the goddess experience. For me, this is all inclusive… no matter your age, size, race, religion… we are all entitled to feel good about ourselves and share that with the world. Let me repeat: You are entitled to feel good about yourself. It’s okay to love yourself. It doesn’t make you vain, or narcissistic. Loving yourself gives you a better capacity to love others. And who couldn’t use more love in their life?

It’s perfectly okay to have goals. Maybe you want longer hair. Or you want to lose a few pounds. Or you want to run a marathon. Just make them on YOUR terms, not society’s, not the media’s. We are all works in progress, so waiting until we’re “done” before we’re worthy of love is like constantly moving the carrot in front of the horse. You can love yourself and continue working towards your goal. In fact, loving yourself might just be the missing ingredient to achieving your goal.  When I talk about having the audacity to love oneself, I’m saying to own all of your you-ness, everything society says is a flaw, and love yourself anyways. Be bold. Be brave. It’s easy to be spoon fed what you should and should not be – have the courage to not listen and embrace love instead.

So for right now, I’d like you to make a list of all the things you love about yourself. (If you’re very new to this, consider just one thing.)  It can be on the inside or the outside. It can be a trait, or even how you handled a situation. And each day, I’d like you to revisit the list, and add just one more thing. That process of incremental progress will have self love sneaking up on you before you even know it.

Sending bundles of love, from my heart to yours,