9 Stories That Truly Capture What The Journey To Body Positivity Is Like

Photographed by Kava Gorna.
If you regularly read our work, you probably already know that, here at Refinery29, we are all about body positivity. In fact, we launched our Take Back the Beach initiative to show that every body is a beach body, and to reframe the way people think and talk about body image and self-acceptance.

However, we also know that a positive body image is a journey, and that journey is not a linear one. Here, we've rounded up nine stories that show the various paths toward body positivity. Read, get inspired, and get ready to take back the beach.

What Losing 110 Pounds REALLY Looks Like
"I don't know about you, but I am so sick of striving for fucking beauty. It has taken up 10 to 20% of my time and thoughts on a daily basis for the past 20 years. It has robbed me of doing more important, loving, honest things. And, after all this time, I'm not even that good at it."
"The biggest challenges in this transition are dealing with the outside world, dealing with how people see me now. I was dealing with that before, but people saw me as, like, a dyke, a lesbian, or a really masculine woman. And they have their ideas about it, and I don’t care, but it's interesting to me going from that and being viewed as a woman and then being viewed as a man."
"But finally, once and for all, this isn’t about what anyone else thinks. It really does not matter anymore. I have accepted this episode as a part of my larger story. And I refuse to be ashamed of it. I am taking back my body, my story, and myself in a bathing suit. Today, the scars are fading into fine white lines. My breasts are small, well proportioned, and just right for my body. "
"Women who have disabilities can be anything from army lieutenants and Broadway performers to track-and-field stars and leading scientists — and they sure as hell can enjoy beaches and pools."
"Beyoncé’s triumph in Lemonade is that through her personal struggle, she turns the mirror on us. I recognize my doubts in hers, hear my weaknesses in her voice, see myself in the eyes of the Black women who fill this album till it runneth over. Every Black woman is different, but Beyoncé has tapped into something we all experience: the fear that we are not enough in a world that doesn’t wish to see us, our battle to self-love, or our incredible capacity to feel, yet endure. When we are hurt, we are denied our humanity; when we succeed, our femininity."
"Indian people — at least the ones I know and know of — have a tendency to feed and feed you until you lay incapacitated on a couch. It’s a part of our culture of hospitality. But at the same time, if you’re a woman, heaven help you if you gain too much weight from this incessant food-pushing. Generally, in my culture, women get 'fat,' while men get 'healthy' and 'look good.'"
"But body acceptance is exactly for people 'like me' — because it’s for everyone. Because it’s never just about accepting your appearance and your weight. It’s about self-acceptance — the entire self, not just the visible bits. It’s challenging the idea that your exterior is indicative of your value as a human being."
"Can you see my stomach?"

"I mean, yeah?"

"Good! I just don't want to look like I'm hiding anything."
Fighting To Be Seen As A Plus-Size Athlete

"Until fitness media and advertising dare to show these bodies, it’s up to you and I. Being seen as a plus-size athlete isn’t just about inspiring people of size. It’s also about showing society that body diversity exists in athleticism. It broadens the scope of what it means to be an athlete. What we see at those finish lines changes our very concept of the athletic ideal."

It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.

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