At one point in our lives, we’ve all wanted to improve our bodies in some way. While many of us wish to be healthier, many also strive to maintain the “perfect body”. My last 2 posts were about weight loss, so let’s chat about an important topic to keep in mind. In this post, I’ll talk about body positivity, and explain exactly what it means.
Most of the time, we see thin or muscular body types dominating every type of media. It always seems that beautiful people get admired and receive better treatment. They’re displayed as more productive, happier, and more desirable than your average person. But what harm can come from plastering an ideal for us to compare ourselves to?
Negatives and Stigmas
With images of the “ideal body” just about everywhere you look, the belief that value is linked to appearance can become ingrained at a very young age. This has a major effect on what we consider the standard for beauty. Even children can experience dissatisfaction with their bodies, leading to depression and dieting much earlier than expected.
A study by Common Sense Media found that over 50% of girls and around 33% of boys between 6 and 8 felt that their perfect weight was less than their current weight. Also, 25% of kids had tried some type of dieting behavior by the age of seven.
Having a larger body can impact our health more than just in a physical way. Stigmas placed on people who are overweight or obese can be corrosive to their mental health. Negative experiences surrounding relationships and employment can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress.
Mental illness alone can decrease physical health due to lack of motivation or will to take care of oneself. Other physical issues can result from disordered eating and dieting, lower quality of service from healthcare workers, and undiagnosed illnesses due to neglect from doctors.
Both men and women suffer with anxiety and low self-esteem because of their bodies. This can result on them relying on people to validate their worth, even if those people are abusive.
What is Body Positivity?
Challenging society’s view on beauty is not a new concept. Back in the 1850s, women protested the use of corsets to change their body shape to please other people. Today, body positivity is to accept your flaws, rather than go looking for perfection, as well as respecting everything your body does.
Body positivity has many meanings, including:
- Accepting your flaws
- Having confidence in one’s skin
- Appreciating uniqueness
- Focusing on what you like about your body
- Gratitude for the work your body does
Body positivity is a long process for many people, but much like any habit, can be built over time. It requires compassion for your body, forgiving it for having flaws like stretchmarks or wrinkles. It’s also understanding that natural things like aging occur, and being more realistic with our expectations.
You have the right to have a positive view of your body, even if other people may not.
The Body Positivity Movement
The body positivity movement is a more recent approach to dare society to look past an individual’s image, and appreciate the person they are. It is a means to promote acceptance of people of all body types. While doing this, it also informs society of how unrealistic images in the media are, and encourages people to love their bodies no matter what.
With the pushback caused by the movement, increasing images with people of all body types have been shown in the media more recently. Dove has been taking the initiative to help people love themselves the way they are. Their content has no retouching, and promotes diversity, while using only non-models in their ads.
Lizzo, the singer-songwriter who is well-known for her activism in the body positivity movement, graced the cover of Vogue magazine back in October. On her Instagram page she explained that she’s “the first big Black woman” to do so.
Are There Negatives to Body Positivity?
Many of the perceived downsides to body positivity are misconceptions. There are comparisons made between body positivity and fat acceptance, and though they are similar, they are not the same. Fat acceptance is specifically for acceptance and equality provided to people who are overweight.
It is also a common belief that positivity encourages obesity. While an obese person may love their body, it does not necessarily mean they are not concerned about their health. In addition, some debate that intentional weight loss may not be considered body positivity, as you are attempting to change your image. But while making improvements to their health, one can choose to love and respect their body regardless.
Body positivity also encourages people to love their bodies no matter what, which is a bit unrealistic. While someone cannot expect to love everything about their body all the time, it is still possible to be body positive while also disliking parts of your body.
While you can’t simply tell yourself to ignore negative thoughts about your body, you can make small changes to your thinking and behaviors to be more positive about it. Just be realistic, work to be healthy and be proud of what your body can do for you.
Have the nerve to love yourself even though you’re a work in progress. Even if you haven’t reached your goals yet. Focus on what you’re good at, and remind yourself of the positives that make you feel good about yourself. This is crucial for your overall self-care and mental health.
On a final note, if social media is bringing you down, acknowledge how you’re feeling and take a break from it if you need to. A shift in society is required, but like any social change, it may take time and patience."My weight? It is what it is. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. It's about being content. And sometimes other priorities win." – Melissa McCarthy Click To Tweet
If you’re looking for a body positivity blog, I highly recommend Pretty, Plus and Proud. I love her blog, and I know you will too!
That’s it for now everyone. If you’ve found some value in this post, please share it to inspire others too! Also, subscribe for more at the top of my site’s sidebar. Thanks!
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission with no additional cost to you. Thanks!