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Love the Skin You're In

Girl Gone Strong co-founder Molly Galbraith talks about the fact that body positivity isn’t about “accepting your flaws.” It means realizing you’re beautiful, at this very moment.

Molly Gabraith
Courtesy of Molly Gabraith

Since the dawn of time—and advertising—women have struggled to accept their bodies and have had the world outside reciprocate that self-respect. The models of “beauty” have rarely been strong, tough, adventurous, confident women. Yet, times are changing.

The #bodypositive, #selflove, and #selfcare movements we are seeing from sportswear and beauty brands, hashtags, and memes have made embracing yourself a welcome trend. Earlier this year on New Year’s Day, Molly Galbraith, co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, posted a photo of herself in a tank top and underwear in her natural element—curves, cellulite, and all—and it sparked an overwhelmingly positive response. To her, feeling flawless doesn’t mean you give up #fitgoals; it just means loving yourself in full at this very moment. Here is Galbraith in her own words.

The flawless idea

“I feel passionately about sharing this photo, and I posted it on New Year’s Day because that’s when we make all kinds of resolutions about how we want to change our bodies. We resolve to lose 20lbs, flatten our bellies, or finally shrink to a size 6. The craziest part is that for many, these goals aren’t even our own. They are practically assigned to us in the womb.

“While there is nothing wrong with setting goals for yourself from a positive place, that’s not what most women are doing. In fact, feeling ashamed of their bodies keeps young girls and women from going out for sports, participating in class or work meetings, and applying for schools and jobs that they really want. Our preoccupation with what is ‘wrong’ with our bodies silences our voices and prevents us from being fully engaged in our own lives. I want women to understand they do not have to subscribe to anyone else’s ideals.”

Struggle makes you stronger

“I have spent well over a decade wrestling with my weight and my relationship with food. At 19 years old I had an unhealthy lifestyle and wasn’t satisfied with how my body looked or felt. Even when I lost a lot of weight after starting strength training and got very lean doing figure competitions and strong while powerlifting, I still struggled with my body and with disordered eating. Though I was exercising and eating healthier foods, I wasn’t mentally healthy. I was preoccupied with what was ‘wrong’ with my body (not lean enough, not strong enough, not muscular enough), and I spent tons of time and energy obsessing about how I could ‘fix’ my body through diet and exercise.”

The real journey begins

“I received a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome in 2009 and got injured in 2012. But it wasn’t until 2013 that a healthier relationship with my body began to develop. I was forced to realize that I may not always have control over what’s happening with my body, but I do have control over how I take care of it, how I view it, and how I think about it. I had to embrace my body exactly as it is. That doesn’t mean ‘settling’ or no longer working toward goals; it means not letting others define standards for my body, and not allowing my body to define my self-worth.”

Don’t sweat the haters

“At the height of my chronic pain and autoimmune flare-up, I had gained weight. Some acquaintances asked me if I was still working out, and commenters on YouTube were asking why I wasn’t as lean as I used to be. Plus, I found out that a woman in my city was discouraging other women from coming to my gym, warning that they ‘might look like me.’ My ability to do my job as a fitness professional was being called into question because of my struggles with autoimmune disease and pain. Through all of this I have come to recognize that:

My body is perfect exactly as it is.

My body is flawless because i refuse to let anyone else’s ideals affect how I feel about my body."

Girlsgonestrong.com

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