Building Body Positivity

Building+Body+Positivity

Tymber Moody, Web Editor

One day, in fourth grade, senior Zoe Cott went to school dressed in a semi-tight fitting shirt and had the confidence to stand up at her table and say, “Everybody look at my six-pack!” — a seemingly harmless comment, that was followed by some giggles and a comment from a boy in the class. 

“More like a six-pack of jumbo marshmallows,” the boy said.

This was the moment Cott’s insecurities about her body began to take shape. 

“After that, I would go home and check in the mirror,” Cott said. “I was like ‘Oh my god, this isn’t normal — I’m obese,’ when in reality I was tiny. I wasn’t even 100 pounds.”

These thoughts ran through Cott’s mind from then on out. They were always there in the back of her mind as she grew up.

“Even when I started to grow and stretch out so I wasn’t stubby, it was still there,” she said. “I still felt like I was big.”

Just like Cott, sophomore Hayes Courtney experienced insecurities about her body starting in middle school. However, while Cott’s body insecurities started abruptly with a comment from her peers, Courtney’s started through the unachievable standards portrayed in social media. 

“Honestly, the only person that’s ever said something negative about my weight is myself,” Courtney said. “I’ve always been told I was so beautiful, but I think when I was allowed to have social media, I just compared myself so much to other people. It just made me hate myself, I guess.”

After continuously comparing herself to others and fighting with accepting her body, Courtney decided enough was enough and began to work on loving herself. About two years ago, she began to eat more and more of what she wanted and began to see that she’s not alone in this battle.

“It wasn’t just a switch — it definitely takes a lot of time,” Courtney said. “I felt like when I was growing up I was always surrounded by these very skinny, perfect girls, and then I met more curvy girls. It made me realize that I’m not the only one who suffers with this.”

Just as Courtney surrounded herself with this positivity while overcoming her insecurities, Cott did the same. Cott’s self-doubt became more prominent during the beginning of quarantine, so she used body positivity articles and apps to help her boost her confidence. 

“I was on TikTok a lot [during quarantine] and there was this one that really stuck out to me. They said ‘show some love to the body that’s literally getting you through a pandemic,’” Cott said. “I gained weight throughout that time because I wasn’t really working out a lot or getting a lot of like steps in. That really kind of taught me that I’m going through a pandemic, my body’s doing what it needs to do to help me survive and be healthy through it, and that’s completely fine.”

While surrounding themselves with positivity, both Courtney and Cott found assistance and support through the people around them. For instance, Cott’s friends and family have supported one another by eating meals and shopping together. While in quarantine, Cott even had the opportunity to re-connect and bond with her sister over these insecurities.

“[My sister’s] the one that’s helped me realize I’m not the only one going through this — it’s completely normal,” Cott said. “Also going shopping with someone else, like my mom, helps a lot. No matter what I’m wearing, she hypes me up, so [I have] someone there to be supportive.”

Although Cott had her friends and family there to share her insecurities with, Courtney took a less public approach.

“I was very open about mental health, but I never brought up my body or anything,” Courtney said. “I was kind of embarrassed about it, but when I met other people who were suffering from the same thing and had the same image as me, that definitely helped.”

Even with the bad days, Courtney eventually reached a point where she felt happy with who she is and what she looks like. 

“It was definitely a relief,” Courtney said. “I found my little outlet and I just stayed there because that’s where I’m happy.”

Both Courtney and Cott still occasionally struggle with these insecurities, but they’ve found ways to fight off the thoughts, embrace their bodies and love themselves. 

“I just kind of realize I deserve food in the first place,” Cott said. “I’m not saying that it’s something that I don’t still struggle with, but just keeping that in the back of my mind really helps, especially on my bad days.”

 

Advice

“I would say find what makes you happy and stick to that. Try and surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself; never hang out with someone who’s gonna make you feel crappy.” – Hayes Courtney

“Everyone deserves the world. Everyone deserves food. Everyone deserves to wear whatever they want. I don’t think it matters what your body looks like, or what you think your body looks like because your perception of your body is different than other people’s.” – Zoe Cott