Body positivity is a struggle for us all, in more ways than one. Because for every uplifting post we read on Facebook, there are maybe five more articles we come across telling us “How to Lose 20 lbs. in 20 Days,” or “What NOT to Wear After Turning 30!” We still see paparazzi photos splashed across tabloid covers in the grocery store, mocking celebs in bikinis whenever they don’t have flat stomachs or cellulite-free thighs. But the truth is, sometimes our harshest critic — the one truly holding us back from loving the skin we’re in — is ourselves.
Such is the message in a recent viral Facebook post by Katey Johnson, a mom from New York who runs the blog The Mother Octopus. Johnson recently shared a photo of herself in a tight black dress — one she says others might say she maybe “shouldn’t wear” to begin with. But you know what? She wore it anyway. And in doing so, she proves a salient point that all of us could learn a thing or two from.
“This is me in a dress I have no business wearing,” Johnson begins her post. ‘It’s not the first time I’ve worn it and it won’t be the last time. I know it’s not flattering but I don’t want you to say, ‘OMG, YOU LOOK GREAT!’ I don’t want you to say, ‘GOOD FOR YOU!’ I want you to know why I’m wearing a dress I have no business wearing.”
Johnson continues on to explain that this particular image was taken on a girls’ weekend with her best friend.
“Someone could say that I look a little pregnant in it,” Johnson confesses, before admitting: “I do look a little pregnant. That’s fine.Once upon a time I grew two babies in that part sticking out in the front, but I assure you, now it’s just where I keep my cheeseburgers and sauvignon blanc.” (For the record, that’s my favorite line.)
Johnson says she bought the dress for a trip she took with her husband, and knew right away that it wasn’t the “right fit” for her frame. But it made her feel good, and that’s what mattered. “The dress spoke to me,” she tells Babble. So she bought it.
It made her feel good. End. Of. Story.
But that’s not to say Johnson is 100 percent there yet with accepting and loving her body, either. A mom to two kids, she confesses to Babble that posting the image to begin with wasn’t easy. “It’s one thing to wear the dress, but it’s another thing to put it out there for the world to judge,” Johnson says.
And she’s glad she did — especially because she knows how badly other moms need to hear this message, too.
“Ultimately, I think everyone struggles with body positivity,” Johnson shares. “Regardless of sex or age, people are vulnerable to the way others perceive them and the way they look, so I think the post is easy to relate to.”
Of course, Johnson isn’t saying we should all just give up and let our bodies go. She advocates for taking care of our health and says she’ll keep trying. But as for all the negativity, she’s done with it. D-O-N-E.
“I’m not saying I’m giving up,” she continues in her post. “I’ll still try to get healthy, here and there. I’m just taking a break from beating myself up … After 40 years of telling myself I have no business wearing things I want to wear, I’ve decided to change the subject. I’ve decided to start being kind to myself.”
I think we can all take a page from Johnson’s playbook and practice kindness on ourselves a little bit more. Let’s wear a dress that makes us feel good, even if society says we’re “too old” or our stomach is “too big” or we’re just too … anything. Let’s block out the noise and the negativity, go on a trip with our husbands or girlfriends, drink the wine, eat the cake, and love ourselves again.
After all, we more than deserve it.