It’s that time of year again. Time for @negharfonooni’s Bikini Rebellion challenge (read: this media bs about getting a beach body in x number of days is so over - ALL bodies are bikini bodies). 

I followed along with last year’s challenge, but skipped out on the participation factor. After having lost 80 lbs, I’d started gaining weight again and found myself in the midst of a complete identity crisis. 

I was severely bullied as a kid for being overweight and had dedicated, well, pretty much my entire life to dieting… to no avail. I remember being “on plan” when I was eleven years old. I remember telling my mom that all I wanted for Christmas or my birthday was to be “skinny”. For the first time ever, I’d found something that was working for me and I’d finally started to feel at home in my own skin. But life happened, as it does, and as I worked through what quickly became one of the darkest periods of my life, my body started to expand again. I was still practicing self-care, was still super active (even as a chubby kid, I swam competitively and danced), was still eating clean, but my stress levels were through the roof, I was miserable both personally and professionally, and my body was hellbent on protecting itself with some extra layers of cushy fat. 

The shame I felt was overwhelming. On top of everything else I was dealing with and sorting through, I suddenly found myself terrified of going to family events, meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and some days, even leaving my apartment. How ridiculous is that? I was terrified that the people who supposedly loved (and do love) me the most would judge me based on the size of my waist and make me feel unworthy, unwelcome, unwanted. 

I found myself blurting out, “I’ve gained a little weight, but I’m working on it!” every time I made a new friend or acquaintance. The little girl inside of me was trying to run the show - was trying to outsmart the schoolyard bullies. If I acknowledged my “weight problem”, they couldn’t hurt me with their words anymore. 

The thing I failed to realize is that I’m not surrounded by unkind bratty kids at this point in my life. My world is full of sweet, empathic, caring, loving, genuine people who really could not have cared less about the size of my body. Last summer, Neghar’s message hit me hard at a soul level, but, as it often does, my head tried to overrule my heart, and I let myself get so caught up in self-blame and shame that I couldn’t bear the thought of joining in. Instead, I started restricting and pushing and over training in an attempt to force my body into submission. I could’ve thanked it for trying to protect me. I could’ve chosen to love it as it supported me through a difficult time. I could have accepted all that I am, as I am (was). But I didn’t do any of those things and my health began to suffer in big, big ways because of it. Eventually I realized that, not unlike a lot of women, my self worth has always been wrapped up and tied super tightly to my body weight. I started making more of an effort to practice self-love, to allow myself to rest and heal. 

I still struggle. A lot. It’s so easy to fall into old patterns, but this is a fight I’m both proud and happy to keep fighting… because it’s not just for me and my own peace of mind: it’s for women everywhere who feel unworthy of *anything* because of how they look. It’s time for all of us to step up and start spreading more (self) love. We all have so much to offer - can you imagine the progress we’d make if we put even half the time and energy we put into obsessing over our bodies into changing the world? The possibilities blow my mind. I’d love it if you’d join me & all of the other bikini rebels on this journey of ours - I have no doubt that it’s about to become a challenge of the grandest kind for me on so many levels, but I’m still kinda stoked. Google “Neghar Fonooni” and “Bikini Rebellion” to find the link you need to get in on the party.

Some excerpts from the Day One challenge e-mail:

“In a 2004 global study conducted by Dove, there arose some heartbreaking findings:

- Only 2% of women were comfortable describing themselves as beautiful. - 80% of women agree that every woman has beautiful physical qualities--yet fail to see their own beauty.

Do you see the disconnect? If 80% of us are saying we see the beauty in other women, then how are only 2% of self-identifying with the term "beautiful?"

We must declare it proudly, and confidently: I have a bikini worthy body, simply because I have a body.

Your authenticity practice begins with just one belief: I am enough. I am worthy. I am ready to embrace and love myself, just as I am. 

I may want to change my body, and that's okay. But I also love myself just the way I am, right now. I will change my body from a place of love, and never from a place of loathing.

One of the best parts about this challenge is the realization that you are not alone. The more we post, the more we fuel the Rebellion.

We are all sharing our fears, our struggles, and our hearts. We're also sharing our insights, triumphs, and positive energy.” #bikinirebellion