10 Ways to Encourage Primal Body Positivity

Body Positivity finalStanding in the checkout line of your average grocery store is a telling cultural experience. For the few minutes it takes for the checker to ring the person in front of you, there you idle with your cart—surrounded by the ironic juxtaposition of junk food aisle caps and fashion/fitness magazines. The images of impossibly smooth or ripped celebrities and models—strategically lit and otherwise doctored—stare you down on your way to check out. And people buy these magazines with gusto, even though they’re basically all the same—featuring the same rehashed articles or selling the same impossible body expectations. Is it any wonder so few people can meet their bodies with acceptance? But this got me thinking: what would a Primal magazine cover and its models look like? (I have a few thousand ideas for both.) I’d like to think it would have a lot to say toward optimizing physical function and embracing individual variance over imposed media standards, but I’ve always been that contrary type. So let’s go down that road a bit and look at some down-to-earth, practical takeaways for encouraging Primal body positivity.

It’s impossible to take apart the topic without looking at the obvious social static we’re bombarded by—and not just on those magazine covers. For women, of course, the common (although thankfully changing) standard has traditionally been thinness—the waif look with its slight waist, skinny legged jeans and bone contoured shoulders. Sure, this comes naturally (and healthily) for some women and might be attainable for others. But it’s definitely not the healthiest form for most women. In Grok’s day it probably wouldn’t have been terribly practical either. There’s a reason most cultures have valued a little softness in a woman’s form. Evolution selected for women as a whole (there are always outliers) to carry more fat (18-21%) in preparation for pregnancy, since those fat stores could serve as essential reserves to nourish the fetus, particularly in times of food insecurity. Furthermore, when women of childbearing age get below a certain body fat percentage (like the percentages depicted in a lot of idealized images in popular culture), their hormonal balance becomes disrupted enough that they can stop menstruating, temporarily shutting down their fertility.

For men, it’s a different picture. There’s the pressure to build bulk and look swole to unnaturally sustainable degrees. The simple fact is, most men don’t have and never should have the muscle mass often depicted in popular culture these days. And, yet, the media standard persists, encouraging a physique more graphic novel than Grok.

A perfect antidote to the insanity is an evolutionary perspective on what is healthy adaptation rather than modern fad. Strength and mobility would’ve been evolutionarily useful. Being bulked beyond reason or fragile would not have been. The respective bulk eating and nutrient restriction required to maintain these looks wouldn’t have been reasonable either.

The ultimate crux of Primal body image is and always has been function over form. What can your body do versus what does it look like? Run a 6-minute mile? Deadlift twice your weight? Do a perfect Dragonfly Pose? Given birth? Fed a child? Split a season’s worth of firewood? Climbed a 13,000 foot mountain? That would’ve told Grok a lot more about your health and fitness than your size.

When we dump the pervading culture’s nonsense of obsessing over comparative perfectionism, we’re free to own our own sense of worth. We’re free to enjoy living in our bodies and reveling in their abilities. We’re free to actualize ourselves physically to our own unique potentials. That sounds to me like a much bolder and worthier project in this lifetime. Let’s look at a few ways to take up this challenge.

1. Kick your scale to the curb.

First things first. Literally—as in this week’s garbage pick-up. Not only do pounds/kilos mean virtually nothing, but there’s no reason to hold onto a device that you’ve likely used against yourself for years. Go Office Space on it for the added benefit. Grok wouldn’t have cared what that thing said, and neither should you. Trust me, you won’t miss it.

2. Get clear on how you measure your self-worth.

Guess how much sympathy someone crying over their appearance would have gotten 40,000 years ago when there was field dressing to do and a fire to build? I’m sure great hair or a broad shoulders would’ve been nice then, but the stakes were higher than that in Grok’s day, and it offers some useful perspective. Appearance has always been a factor (among many) in the genetic game, but the insane obsession over it is a first-world problem, as they say. What do you value in the people you love the most? Think of the experiences you’ve had with these people that make up your favorite memories. Did a single one have to do with them having a perfect appearance? I can safely answer no to that. Stop applying a ridiculous, irrelevant standard to your own self-regard. When you’re dead, people will remember things like how good you made them feel or how fun, kind and creative you were. Let this sink in—every day. Make an active, conscious decision how you will measure your own self-worth and self-development as a human being, and never look at the mirror the same way again.

3. Power dress.

A friend of mine has a 5-year-old son, who these days wears a pirate hat wherever he goes. (Those of you with kids know exactly what I’m talking about.) For him, that hat has nothing to do with making him look good or fit in, but in making him feel powerful and (in a 5-year-old boy kind of way) badass. Consider it time to embrace your own badass by finding garb that makes you feel powerfully yourself. You know what I mean here. The clothes that make you feel most comfortable—not in terms of waistbands and fabric, but in terms of what best flatters your form and expresses your self-image. Grok’s set wasn’t above adornment, and you’d be surprised at how much “primitive” fashion was devoted to making people look larger than life. Find it in yourself.

4. Scrutinize your media and cultural exposures.

Grok had none of it, and maybe you should consider that. Look at the images you consume in a day. That goes for T.V., Internet sites, social media feeds, magazines as well as your social environments like restaurants, bars, gyms and other places. What are the influences that constantly push unreasonable or unwanted “standards” in your face. Dump them. Cancel your subscriptions or your cable. Join a different gym. Find a new coffee shop or happy hour bar. Cull your Facebook followings. Sure, we might be ultimately responsible for the impact of an image on our emotional well-being, but don’t waste the mental energy fending off what you can just turn off.

5. Surround yourself with positive people.

The above point holds for people, too. Be selective in who you surround yourself with. It’s doubtful people who were too negative and annoying would’ve survived small scale band life back in the day. If you have “friends” who always seem to offer back-handed compliments or who spend their time critiquing the appearances of everyone around them (or even themselves), it’s time to make new connections. Hint: you’re not responsible for unconditionally accepting other people’s behavior. You are, however, responsible for the company you choose to keep.

6. Shut down the comparisons.

I’ve written about this before, but suffice it here to say that you weren’t born to look or be anyone else. What anyone else looks like or does isn’t really any of your business anyway, is it? Put your energy into making your own life as awesome and adventurous as possible, and you won’t have time to worry about anyone else.

7. Set goals that focus on experience or performance rather than appearance.

Sure, feeling good about how you look is a side benefit of getting healthy. I don’t think anyone will debate that. This said, when people make appearance their goal, I’ve found they often end up unsatisfied. The “bar” against which they compare themselves just keeps getting moved because the “end result” didn’t end up exactly how they visualized, or because their self-concept wasn’t whole enough to be happy with any change. Shoot for a certain look if you want, but also invest yourself in enjoying the changes you’re making to get there. Make the process worth it in other, fulfilling ways, and relish the benefits of feeling better, lifting more, running faster. This is what living Primally is all about.

8. Show off what your body can do.

Lose the false modesty. Let people take pictures of you doing things you love—or take them yourself. Post them in your home, since that’s the perfect place to fill with shots of you doing your favorite things (often with your favorite people). And that doesn’t mean hiding them all in albums. Sure, you’ll want to have those, too, but put them on bold display wherever possible. We’re happy to fill our walls with other people’s art, but we feel funny putting up photos of ourselves rock climbing or dancing or hiking our favorite trails. But we should considering changing that. (Which do you think Grok would find more interesting?) Those moments are potent reminders of how we live the life we love, which is a rare and infinitely attractive thing.

9. Revise your story.

Maybe you grew up in the shadow of an all-star sibling or athletic parent. Maybe you’ve carried extra weight for most of your life, and over the years others came to identify you by it. Eventually, you came to do the same. Make a new choice by creating a new story. You are not the social role you played (or were given) in high school. You’re a fully autonomous adult who’s free to choose the life and identity you want. They’ll be no do-over when this existence is done. Start making and living your vision of yourself and who you want to be now. One reason I think folks dig the Grok concept so much is his fleshed out reminder of who we all really are beneath the modern window dressing. Start there. Embrace your bad and beautiful Primal self first, deciding how that lives on the page for you. Then create your new story choice by choice, day by day. Keep reminding yourself of it until it becomes the default backdrop of your life as you see it. Let other people accept it in their own time—or leave them behind when they won’t.

10. Have your picture taken.

I have a photographer friend—an artist, really—who somehow has the extraordinary talent of capturing the essence of people, capturing them in moments when everything amazing about them shines through. Photos he’s taken of the people I know and love have left me speechless—seeing my wife’s sunlit profile in a quiet, thoughtful moment, catching the giddy height of my children’s smiles when they were playing. I’ll take the recollection of those images, the most intimate and true reflections of who they are to me, to my grave. As incredible as his talent is, I know there are many like him out there. Find one—and have your picture taken to finally see a reality the mirror will never show you.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I’d love to read your thoughts on living with body positivity from a Primal perspective. Have a great end to your week.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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58 thoughts on “10 Ways to Encourage Primal Body Positivity”

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  1. My middle child never left home without his cape. He had many to choose from. I feel powerful armed with my turtleneck and jeans. I have many to choose from. I play in the snow with the dog. The weather is brisk and bright and its good to be alive! All the noise falls away.

  2. Mark’s got this way of saying stuff I feel like I was just about to say myself if I could’ve just had another moment to think.

  3. Awesome post Mark! This is what I needed to hear (or read) right now. I’m 5’8 now weigh 162 lbs with a 29″ waist, down from 235 lbs with a 38″ waist over 5 years ago. I eat Primal and can deadlift and squat over 2x my body weight and can really knock out the pull ups. However, due to the popular media and where I came from physically, I really find myself suffering from almost extreme dysmorphia and have a hard time taking my shirt off in the presence of others. Yet, I feel alert and in the best health and shape I’ve ever been in. Thanks for the reality check-it was the shot in the arm I needed.

  4. Speaking of supermarket checkout lanes, they’re laid out with such great irony: on one side, there’s the candy, the gum, the mints, and so forth. On the other side, there’s about 14 different tabloids and magazines with screaming headlines like, “How to Lose 20 lbs. in two weeks!”, or “The Amazing Fast Food Diet.” or a recipe for some ungodly bad calorie-laden cake, pie, or other dessert with chocolate curly-cues, or ultra-fluffy whipped cream photographed in such a way as to make you want to roll around in it naked.

    Candy on one side. Diet advice on the other telling you to stay away from said candy. Go figure!

    Years ago, someone suggested inventing a checkout lane solely for parents–there would be no candy/gum/mint displays, nothing at toddler level (either low or cart height), no portable refrigerators of soda, no toys, nothing but boring stuff kids wouldn’t be interested in. What happened to this idea? As an experiment, a major grocery chain tried it out, and EVERYBODY mobbed it. Then the grocery industry went after it with every weapon they had to kill it off, and were successful. It lived a very short life. Apparently impulse buying makes up a large percentage of grocery store profits.

    1. Maybe that is why I am drawn to the self-serve lanes… no impulse shelving.

    2. Our local supermarket has one lane that’s the “healthy” lane. The impulse buys are fruit, jerky, and protein bars. There’s also a fridge there full of coconut water and lacroix. It’s slowly getting better.

  5. Beautiful, life affirming ideas! Thanks, Mark, want to go and live with joy, and lose the obsessions!

  6. Brilliant post! 🙂

    Want to have a rant, please forgive me: I was watching some eighties TV last weekend (Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense) and almost – modern-day blinders on! – *shocked* at how LARGE eighties clothing made the women seem: their shoulders, breasts, hips, hair, all boosted by fabric or hairspray.

    Compare this to the nineties ironed-hair scrawny waif! Or the modern “size zero” etc…

    Just mentioning this because it’s not only about the far-distant past, the passion for real curves, and even heft and substance to a female body (can’t speak for men – not one myself).

    And, if people want to know about catwalk models, look up photos of the stunning model Erin O’Connor when she was pregnant – I’m healthy and slim, but even with a huge and healthy pregnancy bump going on, her entire body shape is slimmer than I could ever get without risking osteoporosis, hairloss, and a range of other horrors. She seems like a really sincere person, and I love fashion and fashion photography etc., so I’m NOT criticising her here!

    But, sometimes it really IS genetics, and not Photoshop, and while there are legit questions about why unusual physical types are promoted as the ideal, in the meantime, don’t hold yourself up against models like her, because they are “not the norm” and no amount of willpower will change that.

    1. Well said. Have you noticed how size 12 used to be a normal size for women but now it’s often labeled XL? And consider that Italian actress of long ago, Sophia Loren. Absolutely gorgeous, but I doubt she could get a role in today’s movies populated by ‘stick women’ with the physique of adolescent boys. Were women really meant to have flat chests and no hips??

      1. Today’s size 12 is not what it was 50 years ago, though. Have you noticed? I wore a 10 for many years, then an 8 and now a size 6 and guess what? My weight hasn’t ever changed. As the population gets fatter they make the clothes bigger. It’s called “vanity sizing” (They can’t do that in mens’ wear since a waist size in inches can’t be fiddled with.) In Sophia’s day a size 12 was probably like an 8 is today. Today’s size 12 probably is XL; meaning it fits a woman who weighs more than she should for her height.

        1. You’re right they can’t fiddle with men’s inch-based sizing. But I was thinking something similar was happening with t-shirts. I think I saw an XXXXL in a Target or something recently and thinking that was indicative of making a set of sizes many years ago (S M L), but people keep getting larger so they have to keep tacking on more and more new sizes to the end…

        2. Good point, OctoberAmy. I think you must be right. Now that I think about the women’s reviews of clothing online it’s often the case that a high reported weight is associated with a smaller than expected clothing size. (At least smaller than I expect.)To such an extent that I now rely on the actual measurements of the garment given by the retailer and disregard size.

        3. I’m a size 12, 5’8″ and 163 pounds, which is within the healthy weight range for my height.

          Bummer of a comment to find on a body positivity post.

        4. So true on the sizing. In my twenties I wore a size 6. Post baby late thirties and twenty pounds heavier I still wore a six. However my European ski pants are marked size 10 (US). LOL.

      2. I’m a bit confused by that though. If you look at 60s or 70s live TV, today’s size 12 would have been on the upper end of women’s weight. Women in general were much thinner then. Now most women are over size 12. I’m not disagreeing with what you’re saying, just adding another completing factor. 🙂

        1. Actually I’m still confused too. Could it be that the vanity sizing OctoberAmy describes is mostly true of high-end, more expensive clothing? While in less expensive clothing (most of the market) women simply buy larger and larger sizes? Then too there’s the variation between brands, just to make shopping online a guessing game. BTW I recently visited the 6th Street Museum in Dallas dedicated to the JFK assassination. I was riveted by the wall-size photos of the crowds along the parade route. Not an overweight person to be seen. And all the women were far, far thinner than now. There was a kind of wide-awake quality, too, that also seems to have vanished. I blame the ballooning of the current population to a large extent on the omnipresence of high-fructose corn syrup and high drug usage.

        2. Grace, you are not confused, you are right! In the 60’s and 70’s people were thinner on average, (because of everything Mark tells us, they ate more real food and less processed food, etc.) What I meant was that an article of clothing today with the number “12” attached to it, is larger than a similar article of clothing from 1980 with the same “12” attached to it. And yes, I do notice that expensive clothes are cut more generous than inexpensive clothes, so there’s that aspect too, they try to flatter us so we’ll pay more money for their clothes. (other Amy… I didn’t mean to offend, it depends on so many things, your frame size, shoulder width, bust, athletic build (or not), and so on, we all know what weight is good for our own self.)

    2. Did you know there’s a size double 0? My sister wore that before she had her first baby. I’ve always been skinny (though my ribcage didn’t show as hers did), but even with my almost nonexistent hip and butt fat, I’ve always worn a size 6. While she looked about the same wearing a 00. Weird stuff. It really does come down to genetics. My sister and mom were below 100lbs naturally while eating whatever the hell they wanted (in copious amounts). Some people are just really skinny. Though my sister gained 85 lbs during her first pregnancy, so there’s that. (holy crap I’m just realizing that’s almost double her bodyweight!)
      Anyway, totally agree with your message. Each body type is its own and perfectly unique.

    3. Watch a few old movies from the forties and fifties. The actresses all had small waists and–by today’s standards–big butts, even though they could hardly be considered overweight. They were less muscular and more femininely shapely.

      Times have changed and norms have evolved, probably due to dietary changes and increased emphasis on exercising. It’s still very much a matter of genetics, but today’s women are, in general, much less hourglass shaped, often with the curves in the wrong places, even if they aren’t really obese. Wheat does that to me. After losing the wheat I also lost inches around my waist and regained a flat tummy. I became slimmer but also curvier.

  7. I loooove capes and robes. I used to have a Jedi robe that my dad bought me for Halloween one year, and I wore that out like crazy. I also enjoy trying to cut clothing into certain shapes and stuff to look like certain video game/movie characters. I’ve ruined a lot of clothes doing this… I tried making different jeans and leggings into Sheik before. I felt cool wearing it even if it didn’t look like it. hehehe I love dressing up. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to quell my cravings for most is costumes. There’s so many that I want. I love traditional Japanese and Chinese clothing and Jedi clothing, bounty hunter (from SW) clothing, I love medieval clothing, monk robes, a lot of outfits from different animes, everything green and blue, and then you get those urges to wear all black one day and sneak around like a ninja… Oh man I could go on. I love clothing in the creative, imaginative sense and not the fashion sense.

    1. I also have a thing for flowy skirts and dresses (especially in white or green), and it’s funny because I’ll obsess over a long skirt or dress I get, I’ll wear it a few times, and then I’ll be like, “Man, I’m really tired of tripping over this” and I’ll end up cutting it to a shorter length and either messing it up or not liking it as much. I have a problem.
      One of my favorite outfits from any video game or movie is Link’s classic Ocarina of Time outfit. I absolutely love it. So simple. White and green, my favorites. If only I had the money to get a nice cosplay of it. I’ve tried several times to make a Link-inspired outfit with not much success. It’s just not perfect enough. I do have Link hats in green, blue, red, and black though. Woops. This post is supposed to be about body image, not clothing. lol

  8. I loved this article. I was reading about potato hacks this morning, and I got to thinking that the idea is actually fully insane. My body is fine.

    Not to catch a ton of vitrol, here, but it’s interesting that this talks about limiting exposure to unrealistic body types while Mark’s 8 pack is on display a quick scroll above his words.

    1. That crossed my mind too. Not to criticize Mark or his great-looking 6-pack, I have read that overdevelopment of certain muscles can lead to imbalance problems. I have a relative (a woman) who experienced this firsthand. She was doing a lot of exercises to strengthen her abdominal muscles, apparently while neglecting other muscle groups. Before long she was complaining that her back hurt and she couldn’t relax her stomach muscles. Exercises are great for a lot of reasons, but going overboard can be counterproductive.

  9. So appreciate this post, Mark!

    My favorite way you listed is to “revise your story.” Indeed, I feel that encompasses just about everything else.

    The stories we tell ourselves (along with those we’ve been told by others) have such a formative impact on our beliefs about body and self…and how we live our lives.

    Bringing awareness to those stories–naming them for what they are and what they are not–is not easy. But it IS possible, and can absolutely change how we see our bodies and ourselves.

  10. I appreciate your columns every day, but this one really spoke to me. I had to print it off so I can re-read it often. And a Primal Magazine would be such a great idea! I follow a few folks on Instagram that are living the primal life and they are SO inspirational, no matter what they look like. Would love a magazine filled with success stories, advice, fitness tips, recipes, etc. all primally aligned.

  11. Exactly the pep talk I needed! Thank you so much.

    One of the things my 23andme genetic data shows is two polymorphisms associated with obesity. They both do something to insulin functioning, and I haven’t waded into exactly what yet. Presumably they confered some advantage to my ancestors, the “thrifty gene” kind of thing. But I hope knowing it helps me with body acceptance exactly as you say.

    I have to remind myself that having lost 10% of body weight and kept it off for over five years puts me in an elite class even if it doesn’t look like a media image.

    Thank you!

  12. Wow, love this post! I’ve always been very comfortable with the way my body looks, but due to comments from a gym teacher all through elementary school thought of myself as the least athletic person ever. Turns out I’m just good at different things…like rock climbing. I’ll learned that I’m strong and have great balance and have become much more adventurous. Too bad it took me almost 50 years to figure it out!

  13. Thanks Mark! Very enjoyable and inspiring post, always nice to hear the good stuff from people outside my immediate circle. Grok on!!

  14. You know what? I think the imaginary Primal Magazine cover should have a woman like me, 73 and full of joy and curiosity–and courage. I’m not bragging, just lived through a lot, illnesses and pain, loss, deaths, arthritis and bad knees and all, dancing this past Sunday to the beat of 6 primal drums, making a joyful noise and grateful for it. My body gets me there!

  15. That was beautifully written, Cathy (Kate). I turned 56 yesterday, but I feel about 14 in my head. Mark’s words are an inspiration and what I believe to my core. I’ve been carrying extra weight the last couple of years, but I don’t define myself by this matter, and through all of the support of Mark’s site, I’m working on slight changes to lose fat and gain strength. The number, whatever it ends up being, really doesn’t have any meaning. This was a wonderful post, one that I plan to re-read periodically and share with friends. It embraces what I believe in but need to be periodically reminded of. I find myself here, on Mark’s Daily Apple, more than other health and wellness sites because of the depth of subject matter, which goes beyond the typical fare of other health and wellness sites. And for a humorous note, one my sons used to run around in the woods of Mendocino, CA, in his Zorro costume, which he sometimes rotated out for his knight costume. Clothes rock.

    1. It IS a wonderful post, isn’t it, Laura?! Our society SO needs to get beyond the fixation on youth and air-brushed beauty…we occasionally have to go to a dermatologist to deal with precancerous moles, and the bombardment with ads for Botox, plastic surgery, dermabrasion and such is just sickening, to me. Obviously if you NEED to do something like that (and some do), fine, but to push it just to look young and fit the “ideal”? No thanks.

      I’ve been primal for 4 years, and it solved a LOT of health problems. I am delighted and so grateful for Mark’s work–I bought YET another copy of Primal Blueprint to give to a friend who needs it, just last week.

      Am I still a bit zaftig? Yep. Do I fret about it? Not likely. I reached a plateau almost 4 years ago and after decades of yoyoing, I can accept that this is apparently what my body likes. Fine by me!

      1. I love your attitude. Even though I still carry extra weight, I feel so much more alert. But if I have oatmeal, even one morning, I begin to feel sleepy again. I don’t think it’s all in my head, either. My grandmother was a beautiful woman who never dyed her hair or went to extremes to erase wrinkles. People often mistook her for Jessica Tandy.

  16. Losing the TV is a great idea. I gave it up and just kept my TV set for Netflix. Freed my house from that invader. XM radio, yes, TV, no.. Also the point about clothing is very true. I like the Athleta line of clothes for that reason. Then add a little ‘boho chic’ to your wardrobe and you feel free. It sends a message to yourself and to others as well.

    1. Regarding the TV, it’s all a matter of personal preference when it comes to quiet-time entertainment. Some people like to read, listen to music, play video games, or watch movies while others prefer TV programs (despite a jillion commercials.) Anything can be done to excess–including Netflix. I don’t watch much TV but I do have to laugh when people try to demonize it just because it isn’t their own cuppa.

  17. Power dress. Yes. I’m reminded of the designer, “Adrian”, who designed Greta Garbo’s clothes in several of her movies. Given how very long ago that was, his creations look remarkably modern and added immensely to Garbo’s allure and power. And she looked very free and comfortable. Adrian, where are you.

  18. I would be interested to know what body fat percentage Mrs Sisson is? I think she looks fit and fabulous but not much in the way of ‘softness’ is evident.

  19. Those “waif-like” women are not immune from negative body image either. As a kid and young adult who was constantly ridiculed growing up for having a “boney butt” I hated being “stick thin”. What woman wants to be compared to a stick? You definitely see stick thin people in the media, but right next to you someone is bashing them.
    I’m definitely not putting down other people’s experiences of being teased or feeling insecure for carrying a little extra weight, it’s really important to remember you can hurt a young girl’s feelings very easily either way. Calling her “a stick” can be very hurtful but people seem less aware of that. People who would never think to call a woman “fat” to her face had no problem commenting on another woman’s lack of curves. Some of my friends used to eat until they were sick trying to gain weight, hoping the weight would turn into curves. No one ever tells young women to lift which, thankfully, I stumbled onto late in my college years.

    1. I agree with this.. Not many people think twice before telling a woman(or a guy, i’m sure this happens to some men as well) if she’s too small or skinny. I gained a lot of weight when I was pregnant, and eventually lost all of it and then some. People had no problem telling me I looked sick, too skinny, bony, gaunt, frail, etc. Later, I was training for an athletic event and kept to a very strict diet and exercised a lot. It seemed like people were constantly leaving donuts and candy on my desk at work and thought nothing of mocking me for not eating it saying ‘oh, are you worried about getting fat? You’re too skinny, you need to eat more!’ My daily breakfast at the time was 3 fried eggs, a large portion of sweet potatoes, and usually some bacon or sausage to go with it. I ate plenty. That’s just how my body looked when I was exercising a lot and training for something I enjoyed. No one body type is going to appeal to everyone. The only person whose body you should worry about making you happy is your own. You’ll find other people attractive or you won’t. No need to tell them they aren’t your standard of beauty.

  20. I love the verb “power dress”! It really does feel powerful to dress in a way that makes us happy/confident/beautiful. I think it’s one of the reason I love summer so much. A bulky winter coat day after day is not remotely powerful, at least for me.

    I admit that I have a hard time with body positivity when the things I don’t like with my body are health related. I feel like having a healthy body would be VERY powerful.

    1. And it rather depends on our own personal feeling of power, doesn’t it! I am amazingly happy in the winter in a long, simple, warm fleece garment. Feels almost ceremonial, all the time. 🙂 I tap my inner power in this one…

  21. Loved #9 – Revise your story. One of my favorite sayings is, “when you are nobody, you can be anybody”

  22. I did away with the scale years ago – I was getting really frustrated that gravity’s force on me could impact my mood so much.

    I still fight with how I want to look, though.

    Maybe I need a pirate hat.

  23. Beautiful, thoughtful, relevant, informative and right-on post as usual, Mark. Thank you so much for your insight —

  24. I actually have “reverse body dysmorphic disorder”. Sometimes I think I look SO good that I actually wink at myself in the mirror… 😉

  25. Love this post! I’ve made it my goal this year to dramatically improve my own positive feelings about my body. I’ve recently found some concepts that really help and to me are very ‘primal’ – it’s the concept of treating your body like a separate being, like a revered, beloved animal. The thought process is that we are willing to say and do terrible, hateful things to ourselves but wouldn’t say them to a friend or a pet. For instance, we wouldn’t feed our pet something that we know is going to give them terrible stomach cramps later, or berate our pet because their thighs are too fat. Plus when we listen to our primal animal, it knows when it’s truly hungry and when it’s full, and what kind of food will make it feel best. I’ve even been saying things to my body the same way I’d say them to my cat, i.e. “who’s a good body? you are! what a pretty body you are. you’re so strong and pretty. Good body!” It’s funny and cheesy but weirdly my body seems to kind of perk up and get a happy, waggy-tail kind of feeling when I do that.

    1. That’s a wonderful concept. I’m going to try that. It rings so true.

  26. Awesome, thank you. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself. I’ve always been proud and confident about my abilities, not so much about my appearance. Time 5o see myself without the self loathing.

  27. Excellent article as always. I believe the most important thing one can do is to have their own definition of success. For me, my life dramatically improved the moment I decided to live for what is truly important to me!

  28. Aria I love to laugh and u made me laugh with yr comment, and maiden you and I think the same ref weight gain today, GMO and additives are the culprits and fuel our crazy desire to eat more of the above.
    Off the subject, but I also think that TV games where the goal is to kill is a form of brainwashing to the young.. Didn’t a school shooting take place by a student, who was wearing his favorite game hero outfit. ?
    I am going to be 76 this year and feel like a 20 year old. Since last Aug 2015 I have been eating as close to primal as can. No grains = no sugar, and my migraines are very few. Always thought the Migraine was hormonal, but am very sure now that it is the grain.
    …CW said eat grains. Thank you Mark.

  29. I love this post! Some very thoughtful words of wisdom from commenters too ????

  30. With being a mom, the hardest thing for me was being okay with my body. The appearance goal for me has always been on the front page of my “Goals” but last year I realized that I wanted to look at it a little different, my goal was to Find more Energy than to find my six pack. I haven’t got that six pack yet, but I really don’t care. I’ve lost inches around my waist, and I’ve gained brilliant energy.

    Reading this though has reminded me of whats really important and that is living.

  31. This made me dig my Grok keychain out of the drawer in my desk. Dang it, I’m big and I’m proud. And when I clean up my life habits and am still big, I’ll still be proud. I don’t expect to ever be anything but a Viking goddess.

  32. This is just excellent Mark! You’ve outdone yourself with this post…thank you. Wendy.

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  34. This article is essentially comprised of ways to look into yourself as an individual.Beauty doesn’t have to be fixed onto one segment. Though the perception of beauty has gradually turned its tides where now beauty is all about figure and body image, I realize that my perception of beauty doesn’t have to mirror society’s enclosed view of being beautiful. After all, there must be something unique in an individual and inner beauty above all is what counts