Personal journey for self-love includes healthy lifestyle changes

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Photo taken by Gabi Gerig '23

In my own journey for body positivity, I have reframed my perspective on what it means for changing your body healthily rather than doing so in toxic, unhealthy ways.

Over recent years, the extensive body positivity movement has swept modern social media and the minds of our generation. The movement presses that we should love our bodies no matter what. Its rhetoric has provided comfort and security to many teenagers as they transition through their most transformative years—where their bodies are constantly growing and changing. 

I have found, however, in my own quest for body positivity, that it is not as simple as waking up one day and declaring that I love my body. It is a long winded, often fluctuating process which I have struggled to truly embrace. Part of this journey has been realizing that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with wanting to change how you look, as long as you do so in a healthy manner. 

My main two goals at the moment include strengthening a healthy diet that cuts out excessive snacking and binge eating, and incorporating simple daily exercise through 30-minute walks outside. I am actively making these changes in order to bring a healthy balance to my life that I feel I lack. Like many, I also have cosmetic-based goals such as wanting to grow out my hair, allow my nails to grow healthily or even changing how I dress.

But I shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to change, improve or experiment with my body. No one should. ”

— Hannah Conn '23

When I mention any of these goals to my friends, I notice that their immediate reaction is to say “No, oh my gosh, you’re beautiful!” They emphasize that my body is “perfect,” or say,  “I love the way your hair looks; don’t change it!”  

Well-intentioned comments such as these attempt to comfort some perceived insecurity, but they can sometimes do more harm than good: they can make me feel guilty for wanting to make changes

But I shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to change, improve or experiment with my body. No one should. 

Wanting to make changes to how you look, both physically—such as losing weight—or more aesthetically—like altering jewelry or clothing styles—are healthy goals. 

In all honesty, as someone who isn’t as skinny as many of the girls next to me in class, I find comfort in healthily adjusting my lifestyle. 

Nobody told me I had to change. I was the one who made the decision to change my lifestyle. I chose to make this effort personally, so I can progress towards truly loving myself. Healthy change, such as weight loss—or weight gain—is not always a toxic thing, and it looks different for everybody. I am simply on a personal quest for acceptance and love of my own physical appearance.