Body Positivity is Easy — When it’s Not About My Own Body

Elyse Cizek
8 min readMar 30, 2021

TW: Body Image, Weight, Dieting, Body Shame

Photo of the Author by Aaron Alpert

I went on my first diet at 8 years old. Young, yes. But I was a product of screens. My parents would often leave my sisters and I at home during the summer months, usually occupying ourselves by taking bike rides and sitting in front of the television for hours. I remember waking up early and turning on Lifetime, following along with Denise Austin aerobics workouts and watching 5am informercials for weight loss pills and exercise machines. I remember looking down at my little belly, wondering why I didn’t have the six-pack abs they advertised as the ideal goal of every woman and man alike.

I loved looking at fashion magazines and idolizing models like Tyra and my personal favorite, Mariacarla Boscono. I loved her for her ethereal waiflike figure and high, gaunt cheeks. I started practicing my model walk very early, watching Fashion TV and the early launch of the Style Channel — their late-night runway shows and model interviews. I was obsessed.

Scary Spice had abs, so did Britney. Low-rise pants were the rage and paired well with the heroin chic-cum-cocaine addled heiress style icons of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Seeing these images, seeing celebrities who had gained weight shamed on Entertainment Tonight and in tabloids at the grocery store…this is how I learned what was expected of my body.

I have had enough education and I’ve been an active enough part of the public renouncing of the Size 0 standard of beauty to believe that the necessity of unlearning these standards makes logical and ethical sense. I celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes. I am more apt to buy clothing from lines that accommodate sizes above the previous Size 14 standard. I publicly condemn the promotion and celebration of impossible body types knowing full well — personally — how those standards lead to disordered eating and exercising, crash diets, and unhealthy self-image in others. But I can’t let go of that standard for myself. And it sucks.

Photo of Author Feb 2019 by Aaron Alpert

In the two years before the 2020 lockdown, I had been in a romantic and professional…

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