We’re all about body positivity — but the movement comes with bit of a catch. It can sometimes feel like there’s a pressure associated with the whole thing: You must love your body right this very second, no matter what. That’s definitely better than feeling pressure to look a certain way in a bikini, but it’s still pressure. And the truth is, it might be nearly as unrealistic. After all, accepting and loving our bodies is a process. While it would be nice if we could quickly go from avoiding the mirror to unconditionally loving our reflection, for a lot of us, that change doesn’t happen overnight.
That said, it can and does happen, and your 20s can be a sweet spot for a shift in thinking about body image. While the decade has its challenges (say, getting used to a grueling full-time job and dealing with your family’s constant questions about when you’re going to get married), it can also be a time for us women to really get in touch with ourselves and learn to find fulfillment and confidence from elements of life that have nothing to do with the way we look.
We set out to find stories from women who slowly but surely learned (or are still learning) to accept their bodies in their 20s. Some struggled because of societal pressure, eating disorders, low confidence, anxiety, or even sexual abuse. But each woman proves that, even when body acceptance doesn’t seem like an attainable goal, it is — and it’s perfectly natural for it to be just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.