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Amanda Laguardia by Suma Jane Dark.

Amanda Laguardia by Suma Jane Dark.

There’s tons of pressure to have the perfect body, whether it’s swimsuit season or the holidays. As folks gear up for company holiday parties, family gatherings, and get-togethers with friends, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure – both internal and external – to be perfect. To look perfect. For our bodies to slip under cocktail dresses and dress pants just so.

Self-care is about giving yourself permission to set limits and giving yourself space to simply be. This season, we say ditch the expectations and refuse the Spanx. Here are several body positive tips to get you through the holidays.

Related: Self-Care Sunday: Setting Limits With Family

1. Say Goodbye To Your Scale

Your body is going to fluctuate. One of the easiest things to do to give yourself a break is to just say goodbye to your scale while celebrations are afoot. Why ruin the fun by punishing yourself and feeling lousy? Reintroduce the scale, if you must, back in mid-January when your life begins to return back to normal.

2. Allow Yourself To Snack

You’re going to be happier and healthier if you don’t skip meals or starve yourself between them. This includes preventing blood sugar dips that lead to depression, anxiety, and anger. Keep your body fueled and you won’t feel the need to overeat, though you damn sure can do it if you want to!

3. Use Neutral Language When Talking About Food

Stop saying things are “good” or “bad,” and stop feeling “guilty” about dietary decisions. Feel guilty about saying bad shit about other people and their choices, but don’t assign human values to inanimate objects.

Body positive blogger Bevin Branlandingham suggests these easy-to-memorize phrases for counteracting food-negative attitudes from others during the holidays:

“Hey, I try to be neutral about food because I think all bodies are good bodies.”

“Hey, I’m worried about commenting about the value of food and body insecurity in front of these little ears nearby. I’d love to help them love bodies of all sizes so they don’t end up with food or body issues.”

“Cultivating a culture of food enjoyment is really important to me. I would love to enjoy this delicious food instead of assigning value to it!”

Try them at your next family gathering or meal with a friend who is still hung up on these ideas.

4. Compliment Your Friends and Family More

Author of Bawdy Love: 10 Steps To Profoundly Loving Your Body Lauren Marie Fleming suggests that we should talk to loved ones about their worth. Let them know how much they mean to you and talk about their strengths. Let them know what you find beautiful and unique about each of them. Make your compliments about attributes other than one’s physical appearance.

When they feel empowered, they’re less likely to speak negatively about themselves and others. Use your strength to help fortify them, and watch the effect as it blossoms outwards beyond you and your circle.

5. Give Room for Folks To Be Body Negative

Even with #4 in mind, not everyone can be body positive. Hell, feeling body neutral is the best that many folks can do, and they should be supported, as well. It’s important to realize that we can’t always change the mind of people and that internalized hate is their cross to bear, not yours.

6. Have A Support Network

Curate a handful of friends, family members, acquaintances, or colleagues that you can talk to when the pressure is on. Whether it is a friend who you can text when you’re feeling judged or down on yourself, a family member with whom you can commiserate when the health nut family member tries to talk you into jogging with them, or a coworker that you can talk to when an officemate won’t STFU about their new diet, it helps to have folks to talk to about these things.

You can also curate your support network by following body positive and fat liberationist experts on the web. Folks like Sonya Renee Taylor of The Body Is Not An Apology, Virgie Tovar, and Jes Baker of The Militant Baker are excellent places to start. Follow their blogs and buy their books to feed your mind and soul during this tough season.

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Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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