Patience and faith. These two words, together, have become a mantra for me since I first heard them. That was back in 2008, when I was introduced to the musical In the Heights. Paciencia y fe is a recurring theme in the show. And it’s a recurring theme in my life.
The body acceptance journey takes patience. You can’t just flip a switch in your brain and turn off all the negative things you’ve thought about your body over the years. It takes time to undo all the damage we (and society and the media and the weight-loss industry) have done to our minds and hearts. You’re going to have setbacks. You’re going to get stuck on the side of the road. Mired in the muck. But with patience, you can keep moving. Forge ahead.
And the body acceptance journey takes faith. Especially when the going gets tough, you need to believe that the journey is worth it. Have faith that the hard work you’re doing—and there’s no doubt, this is really tough stuff you’re doing—is worth it. It’s worth the mental and emotional effort. Have faith that the farther down the path you go, the easier it will get.
I’m pretty good at paciencia y fe when it comes to me. One of my biggest struggles is having patience and faith when it comes to the bigger world. Every day, I see things that break my heart. I see things that bring out the Incredible Hulk that lurks within. I want the world to be kinder and more understanding than it is. To be a place that accommodates and accepts, instead of one that so easily mocks and maligns. I want differences to be embraced. To see myself—and you—and all of us!—represented in the media.
Changing the World
Changing the world takes patience. So many people have spent years being told only certain bodies are worthy and lovable. So many people have had caregivers, friends, and families tell us that we are not good enough. There are countless businesses that depend on us not loving our bodies the way they are. Self-loathing boots their bottom line! Getting the world to embrace, accept, and support people of all sizes is going to take time.
Changing the world takes faith. It’s a struggle, for sure. There are days when I feel hopeless, that there’s no way to combat the multi-billion-dollar industries that want us to not like ourselves. To train medical professionals to treat everyone for their symptoms first. Or build a world that accommodates more than just thin bodies. But I do have faith. Every day, I see evidence that people are waking up to the possibility of accepting their bodies. People are realizing that food and movement don’t have to be about reward and punishment. Studies are proving that weight and health are not the same thing. And companies are realizing there is a huge market for goods and services for so very many of us.
Of the easiest ways for me to have patience is faith is by talking with all of you. Knowing that you’re out there, listening, talking, sharing. Making a difference. Taking a stand. Thank you for being part of my support system. I couldn’t do it without you.