How body positive are you? Yes, we should all love our bodies unconditionally—just as they are. However, what happens when we don’t? What do we do and how does that affect us?
Unfortunately, we live in a society that encourages us to strive for perfection. This has only created unrealistic expectations about how we should look and feel.
Let’s face it, people are treated differently based on the type of body that they have. Anybody who doesn’t ascribe to ideal body weight, as defined by society, experiences shame, self-sabotage, and low self-worth.
Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. These statistics prove that the battle of body positivity has a long way to go.((DoSomething.Org: 11 Facts About Body Image))
What Is Body Positivity?
Body positivity is the idea that people should feel happy with and proud of their bodies, whatever shape or size it is. In 1996, the term “body positive” was first coined when a psychotherapist and a patient who was undergoing treatment for eating disorders created a website known as thebodypositive.org.((Hindustan Times: Body Positivity: The Movement On A Mission To Change The Way We See Ourselves))
In the last few years, we have seen huge shifts happen in conversations with regards to body positivity. Big brands and companies are jumping on board and taking a stand against unachievable body standards. However, we still have a long way to go.
Body positivity is a mental and physical state of being that shifts the focus away from peoples’ physical looks and places emphasis on their personal strengths.
What Is the Body Positivity Movement?
The body positivity movement was first created in the 1960s to empower women to embrace their physical bodies and rid themselves of the shame associated with obesity stereotypes. As a social movement, it strives to help people make sense of how social media and its messages affect the way we view our bodies.
By better understanding the effect that such influences have, the hope is that people can develop a healthier and more loving relationship with their bodies.
In the words of Caroline Caldwell,
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
However, the body positivity movement has been criticized by some for its lack of inclusivity, suggesting that there is still a tendency to show predominantly “white” and traditionally “pretty women” or “good-looking men” who do not deviate that far from the accepted norm.((The Sydney Morning Herald: Does The Body Positivity Movement Actually Promote Better Health?)) Therefore, this movement still has a long way to go before achieving its goals.
3 Reasons Why Body Positivity Is Important
Let’s face it—we’ve all looked in the mirror at some point in our lives and judged a specific area of our body as not being good enough. However, when you start ruminating on your perceived flaws, you risk falling into the trap of body image distortion. A desire to be taller, shorter, or thinner can harm your mental well-being.
Wishing that you were someone whom you are not is the fastest way to create a life of pain and suffering. This is why there is nothing more important than loving the body that you were given.
Let’s explore 3 reasons why body positivity is so important.
1. Fosters Radical Self-Love
We live in a body-obsessed culture that thrives on idealized notions of what a perfect body should look like. Not surprisingly, a lot of people are made to feel that their body is something they should be ashamed of. Instead of learning to love and accept themselves as they are, they go on a life-long mission to “fix” themselves.
Body acceptance is an act of radical self-love. It goes beyond what you see on the outside. You should never feel that you have to change something about yourself to fit in.
To fully accept yourself and your body means to honor and embrace all sides of who you are. It’s a daily practice, but once you start growing into yourself and accepting the skin that you’re in, others’ standards of what is beautiful will not phase you.
Your body and your choices are no one’s business. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. Stay in your lane, and continue being your amazing self. It’s enough.
2. Improves Mental Health
How you feel about your body affects your self-esteem, which, in turn, impacts your mental health. The challenge with negative thinking is that once you start ruminating about one area of your life, it becomes a lot easier to ruminate about other areas of your life as well.
A study found that people with weight preoccupations or body dysmorphic disorder display higher levels of symptoms for depression and anxiety and are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.((Project Helping: The Skin I’m In: How Body Image Affects Mental Health))
The next time that you find yourself having unkind thoughts about your body, check-in with your mental and emotional state. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling overwhelmed or anxious right now?” If so, what area of my life is causing me to feel this way and why?”
Mindfulness-based practices are a great way to connect to your body’s intelligence and tune into what you need to feel more grounded. Talk to your body in a loving way. Give it grace, love, and compassion.
In the words of Nayyirah Waheed,
“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.”
Make it a daily practice to develop body positivity and maintain a healthy body image. In a world that is constantly trying to change you, make it your life’s mission to stay true to who you are. As Rachel Pate said, “your weight does not define your worth.”
3. Challenges Social Media Beauty Standards
When you scroll through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, it has become the norm to see a slew of perfectly crafted male and female bodies. These unrealistic images have become the standard by which we measure the ideal body.
Be mindful of the images you see online. What you see on social media is not always real. In fact, a lot of photographs are tuned and modified to make people look younger and skinnier. As a result, a lot of men and women end up paying for body modification surgeries to change their bodies in the hope that they will be accepted.
Luckily, advocates of the body positivity movement have made strides to retaliate against the culture of body shaming. They are using social media as a platform to create change.
One increasing trend on social media is the posting of body positive content that aims to challenge narrow beauty ideals. Instead, they are promoting acceptance and appreciation of all bodies.((Science Direct: #LoveYourBody: The Effect of Body Positive Instagram Captions on Women’s Body Image))
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to actively challenge male and female body image stereotypes via social media. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have the potential to positively influence people in such a way that all people feel a sense of belonging. We have a long way to go still, but anything is possible.
Let’s pave the way so that the younger generation of boys and girls are encouraged to strive for more energy and vibrance instead of obsessing about diets, weight loss, and body perfection.
Nobody should ever have to apologize for their body type. Nobody should ever feel that they have to change something about themselves just to be accepted or fit in. You are perfect just the way you are. Own that truth, and don’t allow anyone to make you question your worth.
Body positivity has shed light on the truth that we are more than just our bodies. You are a whole person. You have thoughts, feelings, and actions that are a part of who you are. When you show your body love and acceptance, you give yourself space to focus on all of the other amazing parts of who you are.
The most important relationship that you will ever have in this lifetime is the one that you have with yourself. Celebrate your beautiful body. It is the only place that you have to live, so honor and take care of it.
More Articles About Body Positivity
- When Obsessing with a Perfect Body Image Becomes a Disease
- How to Stop Obsessing over Your Body Image and Beat Negative Thoughts
- 14 Female Celebrities that Bash Hollywood’s Ideal Body Image
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