Inspiring Others By Example

Body Positivity in a Shallow World

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.

Bodies Of All Sizes Models Body Positivity

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.

Beautiful Woman Looking In Mirror Body Positivity

Final Thoughts

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!

-Ang

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References:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-body-positivity-4773402

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/media-and-body-image/

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/move-over-body-positivity

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancamillercole/2020/06/04/body-confidence

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24 Comments

  1. Ena

    Very well written and informative! Thanks for the mention! I appreciate your support!

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    • Ang

      Absolutely! Thank you for your blog.

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  2. ashleyleia

    The argument that body positivity is bad because it promotes poor health is absurd. Shaming people for their bodies never did anyone’s health any good.

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    • Ang

      I think that argument may just be a way for fat-shamers to discredit overweight people who still love their bodies. It’s really sad.

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  3. burnie

    I think the Health at every size movement/ model is something unknown to many and is slowly shifting the stigma, biases associated with weight. Health is so much more than a number and I like how you have addressed this, whether someone is overweight or not. I also think body positivity is something very few people achieve but body neutrality and just acceptance is more realistic. I salute anyone who truly reaches body positivity but I feel it creates pressure for people to achieve when actually body neutrality will be a far more realistic goal for the majority.

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    • Ang

      Agreed! Body neutrality, I like the sound of that. It seems much more realistic. If we find one thing we like every time we think of something we dislike, neutrality can be achieved.

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  4. Brittany P

    Kids get influenced so easily, it’s so scary! We got our last foster kid about 3 weeks before going on a cruise. Every night he heard me ask “should I eat these cookies, is it worth it?” Months later I heard him asking the same questions, and he was probably still underweight ๐Ÿ˜ข

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    • Ang

      Kids are so impressionable. It’s hard to tell if they’re going to pick up the wrong habits from us. Bless your heart for taking in foster kids ๐Ÿ™‚

      +1
  5. Bites Of Better

    I love this post so much!! Thank you for writing this~ I’ve been reading your progress reports too and I hope you achieve your goal ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Ang

      Thank you so much for the encouragement!

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  6. Kate

    Thanks for sharing this post! It’s so hard to change your negative mindset about your own body and I hope we can all learn to love ourselves despite all the negativity in the world <3

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    • Ang

      Agreed! It really is a game changer when it comes to our mental health.

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  7. Jim Borden

    I’m 63, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to improve my body in some way, shape, or form… ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Ang

      Hey, improving ourselves is a good thing as long as we love ourselves along the way ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. https://tamarakulish.com/

    I was anorexic in my twenties, recovered by giving myself permission to eat healthy, but I still had body image issues for most of my life. The problem? I just didnโ€™t like myself! I had internalized all the negative messages I had received through my life both in words and by how I was treated, that I had come to believe they were true.

    When I set out to heal from the damage and pain of my past, I decided I needed to teach myself to like myself. Loving myself seemed too far fetched at that point. Just learning to like myself was a huge goal!

    I first had to realize that the messages I had internalized were lies! They didnโ€™t represent me! Then I needed to practice suspending judgment of myself, and then to speak kindly and gently to myself!

    Over time I was able to change my neural pathways from running to the negative, to venturing into positive thoughts!

    It takes work and patience with ourselves!

    Blessings!
    Tamara

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    • Ang

      I’m glad that you were able to turn your thoughts around to something positive! You’re right, it’s a process, but with some work everyday we can change how we think. Once we change them, we begin to see that we were lying to ourselves all along ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • https://tamarakulish.com/

        Yes! Though Iโ€™m uncomfortable with saying that I was lying to myself! Perhaps that part of me isnโ€™t healed enough! I had been told horrible things in my life and suffered abuse. I know I had internalized that the perpetrators were correct, because they said they loved and cared for me. I had reasoned therefore that they must be speaking the truth, for I felt that no one who professed to love and care for another would be so cruel and hurtful.

        I was wrong about that however. As I learned more about abuse and abusers, I came to understand that they themselves were very damaged people and projected their inner pain into me. I learned that I had trusted them with being truthful with me, but they were telling me their own truths. Once I realized that I knew I needed to honor myself by releasing the lies they had told me about myself and learn who I was. When we release the lies that do not belong to us we can feel our own truth!

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        • Ang

          I’m glad you realized that. Now you can spot abusers and keep them at a distance.

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          • https://tamarakulish.com/

            Very true! Iโ€™m surprised how I see through the charm and the facade they present!

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  9. Build your Presence

    It’s a must read for every one. People blindly follow a body type rule instead they should focus on Health

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    • Ang

      I totally agree ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. K E Garland

    It can be hard, but body positivity is definitely necessary, especially today.

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    • Ang

      Agreed! Very important

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