Can you be body positive and want to lose weight?

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Photo: Stocksy/Studio Firma

Loving yourself as you are—and want to be

Feeling ashamed of wanting to look your best—whether that’s by wearing lipstick or high heels or losing weight—is something weight loss and confidence coach Tracy Campoli sees often. “For so long, we’ve been trained to really value our education, achievements, and accomplishments—which is awesome—but for many women, being able to own their beauty and femininity in addition to that is a struggle. It becomes this idea of, ‘Am I anti-feminist to want to feel beautiful?’”

Campoli says one of her clients put it like this: “We’re taught to love our bodies as they are. I’m struggling because I do love my body but I still want to make changes. Where is the line of being a feminist and owning my strength as a woman but also owning the changes I want to make?’” Campoli’s response surprised her. “Guess what, you get to be both,” Campoli said. “Hell yeah, you do! Loving yourself as you are now doesn’t mean you can’t change.”

“Where is the line of being a feminist and owning my strength as a woman but also owning the changes I want to make?”

For women attuned to the (dare we say) bullshit expectations of body image, weight loss became seen “as a betrayal of sisterhood,” as Marisa Meltzer pondered back in 2013—even if its motive is self-love. Wellness expert and owner of Brooklyn’s Finetune Pilates Maeve Yore—who considers herself anti-diet, body positive, and feminist—says that when you prioritize self-care, often excess pounds fall off, even if that wasn’t your initial intention. “Sometimes, the ways our bodies respond to nurturing, nourishing lifestyles can also cause changes in our weight,” she says. “Things that we don’t even equate with our weight— like reducing stress and sleeping more—can have profound changes on our metabolisms.” And that’s okay.

The root motive, she goes on to say, is more important than the side effect. “Sometimes, ‘self-care’ can feel like code language for dieting and trying to lose weight.  So it’s all about the why: Why are you doing this?”

Mellone agree. “When wanting to lose weight comes from a place of shame and not feeling good enough, that’s harmful,” she says. “But when it comes from a place of acceptance and wanting to lose weight because you want to, that’s a healthier mindset. The difference is where the want is coming from.”

For the record, Natalia Petrzela, Phd, believes “empowered” speech about your body can mask some of the same old issues. Plus, why weight-gain transformation photos are trending on Pinterest.