I can see that initially the body positive movement is aimed at ending the discrimination of larger bodied people. The movement wonderfully preached that we should all love our bodies at any size, that body diversity is beautiful.
As the movement grew, it was 'health at any size,' no more dieting and restricting. The movement was aimed to empower people of all different body types and for society as a whole to become more accepting of diversity.
However since stepping into this space and helping coach women through this challenging time, I can see that the body positivity theme has become a double edged sword. It can have both a extremely positive and negative effect.
Body Positive has its pros, it empowers women to feel comfortable in their bodies, its all about inclusion and equality. Body Positivity fights back against dieting and weight loss protocols and the media who still shows us impossible standards of what a beautiful body ‘should’ look like. Like why are we still seeing women who are size 6 everywhere when the average size of a woman these days is 12-14. The media needs a reality check if you ask me. We really need to develop more awareness and acceptance of all body sizes including those who are a size 6.
So please don’t get me wrong, Im a huge advocate of all sizes feeling beautiful and confident in their own skin. Beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes. And the movement celebrates this. But I also worry that the movement misses the whole point of the direction that society could and ‘should' be moving towards.
Rather than focusing on self acceptance, self empowerment and self love we are still putting the focus on our bodies! We are still focusing on what we look like on the outside. Our minds are still caught up with thoughts about our appearance compared others appearances. We still believe that our looks reflect our value as a human. In some ways this whole body positivity movement still leads us to believe that our worth comes from our physical appearance. We are still emphasising how we look as being our main focus.
My question is when do we start empowering women to empower women; On being amazing humans, on being more than our bodies and our looks. We have so much more substance that a number or size. Whether big or small. We have so much more value to give back to the world as a whole. Yet either way we just keep focusing on our bodies and how they look.
Whats conquering for me, working with clients is that this whole body obsession thing can be hard for people who have struggled with body image and eating disorders. Moving from body hate to body love can be extremely challenging for anyone who hasn’t had a great relationship with their body in the past.
Saying that we must love our bodies can be overwhelming and hard for someone, it can put pressure on someone to not be able to find a way to positively live happily if they don’t ‘love; their bodies.
Because heres the catch with all of this. None of us will love our bodies 24/7. Thats just reality! We aren’t always going to feel amazing and 100% perfect in every thing we wear. Some days we just feel crappy, sluggish, tired, bloated and uncomfortable.
Some days we are going to feel stressed, self conscious and just not able to show up fully as ourselves. And we put all our worth into how we feel in our bodies, so on the days we don’t feel so body positive, we are going to feel like we have let ourselves down. We are going to feel not good enough not pretty enough and once again its all coming back to our appearance.
I think with this movement taking Instagram by storm, #bodypositive is a trending hash tag thats not going away any time soon, I think we should be advocating the acceptance of all bodies rather than body positive. Accepting that your body is just as worthy as anyone else’s is hard, and it may not come natural to you. But I think its time to retrain our brains to believe that all bodies are worthy of acceptance and that all bodies are worthy of love. We have to unlearn the idea that some bodies are more valuable than others. When we put extra value on some bodies whether big or small, means discriminating against other body types. I think if we can start to put the focus and energy on acceptance of diversity, rather than positivity, we will eventually realize that bodies literally are just bodies, nothing more, nothing less.
Our minds, our thoughts, our dreams, what we do and who we are are is much more important than how our bodies look. We need to speak up and share that our true worth is not reflected by our weight, our size, our curves, or our skin color. How we show up to the world physically isn’t nearly as important as who we are as humans.
The body positive movement isn’t quite wrong, it definitely has incredibly powerful strengths and impact on many women. Inclusivity is a very powerful message. The confidence that women have had, myself included because of this movement is incredible. But I just believe we can take it a step further, which I am actively doing. I want you to help me.
We can teach ourselves and others to embrace body diversity, then move to who we are as a whole. To lift one another up for who we are, rather then how we look. What size we are. We can compliment each other on so much more than our bodies.
I think its important to remember that whilst we can advocate body diversity we can also advocate self love, genuine self love and acceptance. Because I can promise you, you are so much more than what you look like and once you realise this, that you are more than your body, I promise you, that your world will shift.