#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story. And every story deserves to be heard.

Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to Story@DoTheHotpants.com 

And now, here is Alaya’s Body Story:

 

The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory articles are the writer’s own.

My body stands five and a half feet tall and comes in the shade “dark brown.” My body also grew up believing that it was wrong to be in the sun because my skin would get “darker.” My body comes with kinky-curly hair, large thighs, big breasts, big hips, and not-so-skinny ankles. I would chemically straighten my curly hair and felt silenced when people said I spoke “white.” Boys in high school told me they liked me, but made me keep it a secret because they didn’t want their friends to know they had a crush on the black girl.

My body showed up to this world exactly as it is. I’m done apologizing for it.  

Don’t tell me I talk “white.” Don’t ask me how much I weigh. Don’t tell me I’m “cute for a dark-skinned girl.” Don’t tell me to avoid fitted clothes because of my size. Don’t tell me to put my boobs away. Don’t tell me to cover up. This body is here to stay.

Recently, I learned that there are countries in South Asia that ENCOURAGE mothers to dress in such a way that FLAUNTS their stretch marks after pregnancy because they believe it promotes women to celebrate their youth and fertility. I absolutely love this… We should start teaching women to love their bodies AND to love the bodily changes motherhood brings.  There are so many more amazing things to look forward to in motherhood than “getting your body back.” We are more than the shape of our bodies. Let’s start acting like it.

Here’s a little story:  One day, I tried to buy a bikini and asked if the store carried 32-inch bandwidth bikini tops. The Fitting Room Associate said, “Are you SURE you’re a 32?” and proceeded to measure me herself. UMM, this body belongs to me, hunny! I wear what I want and wear it proudly.

I give this body permission to stand tall, to cry, to eat whatever the hell it wants, to scream, to rest, and to love.  

I don’t care what anyone thinks of its shape. This body is mine and I’m learning to love every inch of it – curves and all.

Here’s to the boys who were too afraid to date me because of my “thick thighs,” and “charcoal skin.” Here’s to the girls who laughed at my size and color. Body positivity is REAL and here’s to that.

Let’s stop sexualizing women’s bodies. We aren’t here for sex we’re here for us, okay? And let’s also talk about boobs. Firstly, they’re all different. Some are big, some are small. Some are perky, some are saggy. Some have stretch marks and some are lopsided. You know what? All of the above is OKAY. Stop sexualizing boobs. They’re not for your pleasure. They’re not “inappropriate.” They are BOOBS and believe it or not, some men have them too. Celebrate them (and their diversity).

People ask me all the time, “Why do you do it?” There is a HUGE community on Instagram/Social Media that remains committed to challenging society’s unrealistic beauty standards. Young kids can now grow up surrounded by diversity (and the acceptance of it). And you know what? That’s why I do this.

I do this because my body stands five and a half feet tall and comes in the shade “dark brown.” I do this because my body has a mind of its own and a damn good story to tell.

I am short, but my voice stands incredibly tall. My skin is dark and I’m shining brighter than ever. I shop the plus-size section and look hella cute. And hey, if you’re reading this, then this is your sign. It’s time to be YOU (and to stop apologizing for it, too). My body story is far from over, so join me on this adventure (@laya.bodypositive). Be fearless. Be shameless. Be loud. Be daring. Be unforgettable and be unapologetic. I’ll hold your hand and we’ll get there together.

But first things, first! Self Awareness + Self Care = Everything. Seriously.

Self awareness is the key to happiness, while self-care keeps you there. By definition, self awareness means knowing who you are and understanding what you’re capable of. Self care, on the other hand, can sometimes mean simply getting out of bed… Other times, it looks like taking a selfie. It also means saying “no” to people and things that contaminate your mental atmosphere.

It’s okay to skip the party and read a book, instead. It’s okay to turn off your phone for the day. It’s okay to cancel plans and eat takeout instead. It’s okay to stand up for yourself. It’s okay to end your relationship. It’s okay to cry it out. And it’s okay be comfortable in your own skin.

Three years ago, I was exercising twice a day, counting calories, and weighing myself daily. I had a big dream and almost let it slip away due to my lack of self esteem. If I could rewind three years, I would quit my job and buy that ticket. I would vlog my journey and share it with the world. I wouldn’t talk myself out of it saying, “I need to lose 10 more pounds.” I wouldn’t tell myself to wait until my hair reached waist-length. I would love myself enough to know that I was good enough for the part. I’m good enough for greatness, just as I am. I learnt self-love by simply saying it aloud…over and over. Now, I love my body so that no one else has to.

Body positivity has allowed me to grow in areas I never even knew existed. Today, I wake up with purpose and acceptance, no longer seeking approval from society. It’s the best feeling in the world and well worth the journey. It’s time for us to celebrate our individuality. Don’t have a thigh gap? Totally natural. Have “rolls” when sitting down? Perfectly fine. Health at EVERY size is important, and the sooner we realize that, the better.

Thank you,

Alaya


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