My Journey to Loving My Body

Olivia Pennelle

My curves are beautiful.

I didn’t wake up one day and tell myself that my curves were beautiful. That simply wasn’t my story. I hated my curves for years and spent my entire childhood, puberty, and early womanhood hating the body I was in. As a tall girl and woman, at 5 foot 10 inches, I was always bigger than my peers. And I felt it. I would incessantly compare myself to those smaller than I was, and wish to be different.

Those wishes and the feelings of inadequacy led to starving myself for years. I would try anything that would stop my appetite and help me drop weight. I would visit the magazine aisle frantically scanning for the latest diet. I’d leave the store with palpable excitement as I bought into the promise from each glossy magazine: “Drop 10 pounds in 3 days” or “Our top secrets to beating the bulge and conquering your appetite.”

I was totally sucked in to those promises for years and was always disappointed, one failed attempt after another. I thought the problem was me: I didn’t have enough motivation, I was a glutton, I must be deficient in satiety hormones, I didn’t try hard enough.

The truth is that I’ve never met those standards because, frankly, they’re bollocks. They are impossible to achieve. Only teenagers and women with eating disorders can do the things those magazines promise. Of course, we’re never told that until it’s too late — when we’ve developed our own dysfunctional relationship with food.

So I began to change my mindset. I started looking at the body positive movement (check out: bodyposipanda, bodyimagemovement and effyourbeautystandards) and I was surprised by my reaction: I was able to see the beauty in these women. I saw their curves and how they owned them. It inspired the hell out of me. Instead of comparing negatively, I switched to comparing positively: Look, I have hips like hers and I think she’s so womanly and gorgeous. Slowly but surely, seeing these women in my Instagram feed normalized realistic women’s bodies, and my love of all things curvaceous — myself included — grew exponentially. I now see anorexically thin women and have compassion for them, hoping they seek the help they need. But no longer do I see them as desirable.

The body positive movement is transformative in terms of societal norms. ALthough we still have a long way to go, we are becoming more accepting of women of all shapes and sizes. For a great example, look at Taryn Brumfitt and her documentary, Embrace. What an incredible woman and what a movement she has helped to create.

My hope is that we can all begin to accept ourselves exactly as we are and that any changes we want to make are based in the motivation of living a healthier and more fulfilling life — not to attain unrealistic beauty standards.

There is nothing sexier and more empowering than a woman unapologetically owning who she is.


Eating my cake...

and loving it. 

WellnessOlivia Pennelle