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How carnival promoted body positivity

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We celebrated Bermuda's heroes this month; many of us marked the holiday by strutting our stuff down the road covered in feathers and jewels.

The carnival made its debut last year and this year it seemed to have tripled in size.

The biggest lesson that could be learnt from these events is one of body acceptance.

For weeks leading up the carnival, I panicked that my body wouldn't be enough.

I stressed about my jiggly thighs and worried that my stretch marks or cellulite might show and that my stomach wouldn't be flat enough.

I made time for exercise everyday and ate “clean”. I even missed out on Port O' Call cheesecake because it would throw me off my diet — this is when I knew I was going insane.

The insecurities about my body might not have been visible but they were very much there.

The atmosphere of camaraderie at the carnival was palpable. The spectrum of women covered all age groups and races, shapes and sizes. The day was full of women complimenting each other. How can we be so gracious and accepting to the incredible women brave enough to strut their stuff on the road but be completely critical of our own bodies?

The more I spoke to the women who surrounded me on Saturday, the more mixed emotions I received. Some women felt completely empowered by the experience, while others felt that it fed into their insecurities and negative body images.

I felt that everyone involved looked incredible, no matter what age or size they were.

So how do we change this? How do we create a healthy body image for ourselves and the important women in our lives?

This comes not only from self-love and acceptance but by spreading that acceptance with the important women in our lives.

No matter how accomplished, successful, fit or beautiful we are, it seems like the women I encounter seem to wish something was different.

I was so proud over the holiday weekend of the unspoken community among the participants. Every compliment I heard felt genuine, and from a place of love. The change we want to see throughout society about positive body image doesn't start with the media or how they market to women, it starts with how we interact with each other.

This change starts with encouraging our mothers to wear a swimsuit in the summer, it starts with giving genuine compliments, it starts with sisterhood throughout events like carnival.

It starts with finding (or creating) a community that encourages a healthy lifestyle and embracing imperfection.

Party time: hundreds of residents dazzled in elaborate costumes for this year's carnival - and everyone looked incredible, regardless of age or body type, our columnist says (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Fitness advice: Cassandra Matcham (Photograph by Amanda Thuell Photography)

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Published June 29, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated June 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm)

How carnival promoted body positivity

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