Can you be body positive and want to lose weight?

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But beneath the surface of this empowering movement is a nagging question that occasionally bubbles to the surface, as it did with Graham: What happens when someone—a strong, confident, uncompromising someone—with a larger body wants to get smaller?

The ideas, being proud of your body and wanting to change it, seem to be at complete odds. But are they? Experts chime in with their thoughts.

What does it mean if you love your body—but want to change it? Keep reading to find out.

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Photo: Twenty20/@rwalker899

Where the body positivity backlash comes from

“The body positive movement was really needed in our culture,” says mindset mentor Jaclyn Mellone. “I know for myself, for most of my life I felt like I should ‘lose weight,’ starting when I was nine years old and my friend told me I looked fat in my swimsuit.” For her—and for most people—the cultural shift toward acceptance of a more diverse range of bodies was a welcome one.

“Sometimes we take our self-esteem and hitch it to someone else.”

Mellone offers some insight as to why many people took Graham’s weight loss personally: “Sometimes we take our self-esteem and hitch it to someone else. So when they change, we think that means something about us, too,” she says. “It stems from insecurity.”

To show the fallacy in this way of thinking, Mellone says she likes to flip it: What if Chrissy Teigen gained 100 pounds? “She’d likely encounter some haters! I’d love her no matter what her weight was—and that’s how it should be. We need to think about why we’re following people based on how they look. That’s not what it should be about.”

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