By Nadene van der Linden of Unshakeable Calm
I see a lot of women in my clinic. These women are living authentic lives, most of them trying to make a difference or bring something good to others in some way, either at home, work, or amongst friends.
One thing that makes me sad and kind of angry at the same time is the beautiful women I see who hate their bigger bodies. They rail against the changes mostly brought on by becoming a mom or aging and sometimes illness and medications. They believe that they can’t be happy or proud of themselves until their body is smaller. “I can’t feel attractive until I can fit into my old clothes” and “I need to look a certain way to be happy” are statements I hear a lot.
It’s not their fault that these women believe this crazy lie. The world sells that lie to them every day and it comes with an appealing set of promises. You will be happier, more successful, and more attractive if only you were smaller. You will be sexier and more lovable if you are smaller—but also, just to clarify, maintain a round butt and large breasts. People will like you more if you can just make some of you disappear—at least 20 pounds—then you will be the person everyone else wants you to be.
I’m here to tell you none of it is true. It’s a great lie that lets a lot of companies manipulate you into buying stuff. Telling us that weight loss equals happiness and attractiveness is an effective way of keeping women busy because you can spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to be smaller. You can even take yourself from being healthy to not healthy just by trying to follow the “smaller is better” mantra.
I know it’s a lie because I live in a bigger body, way bigger than it ever was pre-kids. It has stretched and changed with motherhood. It has got less toned and flabbier with a combination of age, less ability to exercise regularly and generally moving at the pace of people with smaller legs than me. Sitting on my butt for hours in my clinic also contributes. The chocolate I eat more regularly than ever to cope with the irritation I feel as a direct result of looking after kids probably has something to do with it as well.
I don’t fit into any of my pre-motherhood clothes. But you know what? I still like myself. I still like my body. I still feel attractive. I AM HAPPY most days. I don’t see my size as a measure of my worth or an indicator of how I should feel about myself. I don’t care what the advertising world and the magazines say.
My body still does everything it did when it was smaller. My body can hike and play sports. It can hug, carry and take care of my kids. It can travel. My bigger body does not get as sick with colds as my smaller body did for some reason I can’t explain unless it’s the almost daily dose of chocolate acting as a preventer. My husband still finds my bigger body attractive. Nobody tells you this, but there can be good things about having a bigger body. I like taking up more space; in a way, I feel stronger than when I had a smaller body, especially when I move through crowds or ride on public transport.
Most importantly, my body is just one part of me. I am a person with a thinking brain and a feeling heart. I am a mother, friend, wife, pet lover and clinical psychologist. I live a values-based life that’s mostly full of wonderful experiences and connections with people. I do all of this in my body, just as it is.
So I don’t care if the world thinks my body should be smaller, that my yoga pants label should say size S instead of the size L they are. I refuse to base my happiness on my body size. I feel lucky to have a body that allows me to do all the things I do. I like me just as I am and I hope that you can find a way to like yourself too, no matter what size you are.
If you struggle to like your bigger body, reminding yourself of all the wonderful things you do and achieve every day can help. Focus on what matters to you most in life and the effort you put towards that. All of that is happening using the body you have. Start noticing how advertising and media use the lie of the perfect smaller body to sell products.
Why not be a rebel like me? Stop buying into the lie that your body has to change for you to feel happy or attractive. Love your body as it is. I hope to see you rocking your life in those size L yoga pants, not because you have to, but because you can.
This post was originally published on That’s Inappropriate.
About the Author
Nadene van der Linden is a writer and clinical psychologist in private practice. Nadene is the author of the much-loved “Tales of the Parenting Trenches. A Clinical Psychologist vs Motherhood” available on Amazon. Join the Unshakeable Calm facebook group for science-based tips for calm and confident living. Follow along on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.