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body positive in 2017!
Body positive Photo by Suma Jane Dark, modeled by Jodi Vaughn.

Model: Jodi Vaughn. Photo by Suma Jane Dark.

Let’s face is: 2016 was a shitshow. While we all try to be positive for 2017, the looming inauguration is scary as hell. That’s why it is especially important that we all band together to be strong for ourselves and each another.

In a time of global warming, war, humanitarian crises and other disasters, one thing is certain: body-shaming is one of the pettiest things in existence, yet it is incredibly prevalent today. It’s time to stop shaming ourselves and others. It’s time to band together.

Here are 10 Ways To Be Body Positive in 2017:

Body positive Photo by Suma Jane Dark, model is Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma.

Model: Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma. Photo by Suma Jane Dark.

1. Unpack White Supremacist Attitudes

Racism, fatphobia and ableism are at the core of most body negativity. Unpacking your privilege and white supremacist attitudes are at the very top of the list. White supremacy isn’t just a bunch of rednecks parading around in bedsheets with holes cut for their eyes — it is everywhere.

It is the job of allies to break down these internalized attitudes. Read a book or ten about it.

2. Stop Judging Other People’s Bodies

Seriously, quit it. Stop looking at the perceived imperfections of others and criticizing them for it, either vocally or in your own head. These horrible attitudes that we have toward one another are just one way that we keep ourselves divided.

3. Buy A Swimsuit and #DropTheTowel

If you’re one of those people who hides behind a baggy T-shirt or wraps up in a towel the second their body is out of the water, stop. Give yourself the love and comfort that you deserve by buying yourself a great swimsuit and taking a swim without the self-consciousness.

4. Challenge Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone Once A Week or More

Beyond the swimsuit, challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone with one outfit or more per week. It could be tighter than you usually go for, bare a body part that you feel less confident of, or be a bright color that you admire on other people but are afraid to wear yourself.

By simply challenging yourself once a week, you can build the strength and confidence to embrace yourself and others.

Related: StyleCrush: Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma, Model and Singer

5. Give A Stranger A Compliment Once A Day

It may not sound like much, but kindness can be a revolutionary act. Think about how often you find yourself admiring someone’s lipstick, hair, outfit or shoes. Maybe they have a beautiful smile or excellent style.

Imagine if you just opened your mouth to say it once a day. They could be having a terribly body negative day and you might turn it around with one kind sentence.

Body positive Photo by Suma Jane Dark.

Photo by Suma Jane Dark.

6. Host a Clothing Swap (or Help Facilitate One)

How many of us have stacks of clothing sitting around that we are never going to wear? A lot of us, that’s how many. Think about how many compliments you’ve gotten on your clothing. Maybe one of those pieces will go to a person who cannot afford their own and who has been admiring your style for quite some time. Or, perhaps you can be on the receiving end of the same generosity.

7. Be A Safe Person

Be a safe person for others to talk to about their body issues by practicing body-positive language. Eradicate racist, ableist and fatphobic phrases from your vocabulary, such as calling people and things “retarded,” “ghetto,” “stupid” or other hurtful terms.

It takes time to unlearn toxic behaviors, but the world needs people who will, and it won’t change unless folks actually stop perpetuating these nasty ideas.

8. Ditch The Scale

If looking at numbers makes you feel like shit, don’t do it. Ditch the scale. You may not know it, but you have every right to tell your health provider that you do not want to be weighed there, either. If they give you any pushback, let them know that it can be triggering for body negative attitudes, disordered thoughts and behaviors within you.

“First, Do No Harm” is the healthcare motto. If their behaviors harm you, then they are not upholding that. Stand up for your individual needs and remind them.

9. Stop Focusing on Sizes

Femmes do not have it easy. Women’s clothing sizes fluctuate so much,and so do bodies, that it is hard to figure out what brand is which size on which body. When it doubt, grab three of the same garment in different sizes: the size you think you are, as well as one size up and one size down.

Do not be angry at your body, be pissed at the industry. Allow yourself a neutral space to clothe your body without self-loathing.

10. Choose A Strength Once A Week and Build On It

Instead of focusing on perceived weaknesses, choose one strength once a week and build on it. Fortify your mind, body and life by focusing on the positive and helping others around you do the same. For instance, if you love your ability to speak your mind, spend a week journaling once a day. You may be a great cook, so challenge yourself to try a new recipe to build on top of a strong skill and become an expert.

Don’t feel like you’ve got 52 strengths? It’s okay to recycle them.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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