What is body positivity?
Body positivity refers to this notion that all people deserve to have a good and a positive image of their bodies regardless of how society and popular culture define and view ideal shape, size and appearance.
Some of the goals of the body positivity movement include:
- Challenges the societal views of the body
- Promote the attitude of acceptance of all bodies
- Enable people to accept and have confidence in their bodies.
- Addressing and bringing awareness towards unrealistic and every-changing body standards
Body positivity recognizes the judgments that are often made based on race, gender, sexuality and disability. It aims to enable people to understand how the media has an effect on their relationship with their bodies. For example, how they view their bodies, the quantity of food they consume on a daily basis, how they choose clothes for themselves, how they take care of their bodies and their bodies affect their identities is molded by media and societal rules.
Once we are aware of the impact of such influences, we are in a better position to develop a positive and a more healthy relationship with our bodies.
What is the body positivity movement?
The body positivity movement has its roots in the fat rights movement of the 1960s. The National Association to Aid Fat Americans (NAAFA) campaigned for equal rights for people of larger weights and heavily criticized the diet industry. Over time, this became a movement to bring about acceptance towards all kinds of bodies. This movement first emerged on Instagram in 2012 and has been talked about ever since. It is now very popular and has over13 million posts under it.
This movement has gone to show how unrealistic and unattainable standards of appearance were on social media. People these days use filters and editing to upload images and videos. This makes it impossible for all of us to know what’s real and what’s fake. It’s commonly assumed that it only affects women and female bodies, but these issues affect males too.
Why do we need body positivity?
- Effect on mental health and well-being: Having a healthy body image plays an important role in how people view themselves and their appearance. This also affects how one judges their own self-worth. Research says that having a negative body image is associated with having an increased risk for some mental conditions like depression and eating disorders.
- Self–care: One’s body image which is the subjective perception of their own body also affects how one chooses to care for themselves. When we feel better about our bodies, we work towards keeping it healthy.
- Internalizing the wrong ideas: When one is consistently exposed to the depictions of the “thin ideal”, they tend to show behavioral and emotional symptoms related to disordered eating. Wrong ideals also lead to developing wrong beliefs of beauty, success and esteem based on being thin. Studies have shown that people are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction and get into dieting.
What is body confidence?
Body confidence is how a person feels about the way they look and how they feel in their bodies. When one has body confidence, they are happy with their bodies and what it allows them to do.
People high in body confidence don’t worry or overthink about how their bodies look and feel free to be themselves and move like they wish. They don’t hold themselves back from enjoying and pursuing activities and interests. This also helps them feel good about themselves and leads to having high self-esteem too. With body confidence, young people tend to have better relationships with their family and friends and even with themselves. They are more confident and don’t step down from voicing their opinion.
Body positivity vs. Body Confidence
Body positivity advocates for the acceptance of all bodies regardless of the size, shape or appearance. The main aim of this movement is to acknowledge and go against the unrealistic beauty standards made up by the society and bring about an attitude of acceptance towards all kinds of bodies.
Body confidence is different from body positivity as it is accepting one’s own body. It’s all about one’s own body image. These feelings can be positive, negative or neutral. Since feelings are affected by external factors, body confidence makes one challenge the negative influences and allows one to start to accept and even love their bodies for whatever they are and however they look like.
Simply put, body positivity is the attitude of acceptance towards other people and their bodies. Body confidence is directing this acceptance and celebration towards one’s own body.
Ways to develop a more positive relationship with the body
- Positive affirmations: It’s a really basic way of practicing self-love which is being the first one to say something nice to ourselves. Give yourself daily encouragements and verbal reminders. Tell a kind thing to yourself in the mirror in the morning or put a reminder on your phone for a daily encouragement. Search and choose for a mantra or an affirmation that speaks to you and feels true to you. Remember, it might feel silly in the beginning because you’re not used to it. But, keep at it. A little silliness won’t harm you.
- Change “thin” to “healthy” perspective: When you’re going to the gym or making an effort to eat healthy, don’t do it for a number that you’d like to see on the weight machine. Exercise is not a punishment. It’s a celebration of the fact that your body can move. So, choose an activity you like and enjoy it. Your body is amazing regardless of how it looks like. When it comes to diet, think of eating as a way of honoring your body with good nourishing food.
- Compliment Others: Complimenting others is a good way of practicing body positivity and getting used to not judging people for their bodies. When we open ourselves and give a compliment, we also become kinder to our own bodies. Give a compliment that you wish you received and be the change you wish to see.
- Surround yourself with positivity: Reduce your time on social media and instead, spend that time learning about things you love and indulge in your interests. Unfollow pages and content that make you feel dissatisfied with your body. Instead, choose to follow content that support body positivity and show what normal human bodies look like, unfiltered.
- Focus on the things you like about yourself: Make a list of things you like about your body. Every time a negative thought comes up, counter it with a positive thought. See if there is evidence for the negative thought. Most of the times, it’s only a rule someone said or you heard or saw in a movie or a media platform. Don’t allow an external source to tell you how to feel and think about your body. Only the inhabitant’s opinion matters. Yours.
- Don’t compare: Don’t compare yourself to others. They are them because you are you. It’s all beautiful only because of the differences. It would be a boring world if everyone looked alike. Comparing yourself and thinking that you don’t look like you should is not good for you. You are not supposed to look like them. You’re supposed to only look like you.
- Cut out negative talk:Negative thoughts lead to more negative thoughts. It is an endless cycle. Punishing ourselves and mentally beating up ourselves only seems like we are doing some good but it is far from good. It makes us feel worse than before and we would have lost so much of time being mean to ourselves. Instead, treat yourself with compassion and save time and make actual progress.
- Do something nice for your body: It doesn’t have to be fancy if you don’t want it to. It can be as simple as keeping your feet in warm water or doing your skin-care.
- Dress for yourself: Make an extra effort to solely focus on how you feel in your clothes. Dress up to feel comfortable and good. Experiment with different clothes and styles and see what makes you feel happy and like home in your body.
- Focus on your whole person: You are more than your body. Your body is only a beautiful vehicle that allows you to shine your light in this world. Your body is not a decoration to just look at; it is for doing. So go do something with it.
In conclusion, our bodies are beautiful. It’s the product of thousands of years of evolution. It’s intelligent and always strives to keep us alive. Opinions come and go. But, the only opinion that matters for your body is yours. So, I hope this helped you to see your body for it what it is and allowed you to feel free and at home within your body.
- The Body is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker
- Hunger by Roxane Gay
- Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
- Body Positive Power: How Learning To Love Yourself Will Save Your Life By Megan Jayne Crabbe