Today, we’re going back to basics and defining body positivity.
Why? Because there’s a lot of confusion around the topic – and that’s okay!
Let’s start with the definition:
Body positivity is the notion of finding contentment, peace and acceptance within one’s own skin. It relies on the idea that taking care of yourself completely – mind, body & soul – is so much easier and more sustainable when you make decisions for yourself out of a place of self-love, rather than self-loathing, guilt, shame or fear.
Sounds simple enough, right?
The confusion has come in when individuals have made assessments on the health of other individuals based on their physical appearance. For instance, when a newcomer to the idea of body positivity stumbles upon a photo of a fat woman proclaiming her body positive attitude, that stranger may then make a snap judgement that because she is fat, she is using the idea of body positivity to justify unhealthy lifestyle habits and glorify her weight.
Similarly, a newcomer to body positivity might see a photo of a very thin eating disorder sufferer in recovery, discussing the idea that they’re body positive – and based on that person’s physical appearance, the newcomer may judge body positivity to be a justification of their disordered behaviours.
The main reason that body positivity has some confusion around it is because some people presume that to be “body positive” you must be in perfect health – or at least represent a popular depiction of what perfect health looks like.
And that, right there, is not true.
Body positivity is inclusive, not exclusive.
The best way to spread education on the actual definition of a concept isn’t in bashing those who’ve misjudged the concept, to be explicit about what the concept involves.
So let’s break it down.
Body positivity is NOT:
- An exclusive club;
- A justification for unhealthy lifestyle habits like improper nutrition or lack of exercise;
- A glorification of any one body type;
- A lazy concept;
- Dismissive of any of the physical, mental or emotional components that go into what makes someone “healthy”;
- Putting down one body type to make another feel better (e.g. “Real women have curves!” or “Fat is out, thigh gaps are in!”)
- Encouraging of fad diets or elimination programs;
- Basing your self-worth on the number on your scales;
- Comparing your own body to the body of anyone else;
- Unhealthy dieting and calorie restriction for the sole purpose of getting “skinny”;
- Unhealthy bingeing and eating habits for the sole purpose of getting “fat”;
- A denial of physical or mental health issues that an individual may be facing or working to change.
Body positivity IS:
- Inclusive of all bodies;
- Part of the ongoing journey of self-love as a motivation for health, not a final destination;
- Not buying into the idea that “flawlessness” exists or that flaws are bad – instead, it’s making peace and learning to accept your flaws;
- Not letting ANYONE tell you that your body needs fixing or that you are broken;
- Not letting yourself be shamed or ridiculed or be made to feel insecure based on your physical appearance – by yourself or by anyone else
- Embracing the body that you’ve got right now (even if you want to change bits of it);
- Loving every line, scar, bump and curve on your body, along with the stories that go with them;
- Wearing what you feel comfortable in, no matter what your told that your body type “should” and “shouldn’t” wear;
- Embracing a healthy lifestyle full of balance that nourishes your body as well as your mind;
- Knowing that your body is unique, as is everyone else’s;
- Rejecting the idea that it’s okay to make judgements about someone’s health, character or lifestyle based on their physical appearance;
- Celebrating all the amazing things that your body does for you;
- An open and honest dialogue;
- Being your own biggest cheerleader;
- Making informed decisions about your health, and striving to be the best version of yourself without putting down who you are today or who you were yesterday.
Body positivity means that you love and respect yourself enough to give your body what it deserves – your love and admiration of all the wonderful things it does for you. It means focusing on treating yourself right, through things like proper nutrition and moving that awesome body of yours, and also through emotional and mental work to ensure that you’re comfortable with the body that you have. It’s about learning to let go of a physical ideal and beating yourself up when you don’t look exactly like that ideal, and instead focusing on being the ideal YOU.
Why is body positivity necessary?
Because when we link happiness, a concept which is accessible by all, to a condition (such as obtaining a certain body weight or having a different figure), we’re fundamentally limiting ourselves and depriving ourselves of the opportunity to be emotionally sound.
It is possible to love yourself but still want to change yourself by working towards becoming a healthier you.
There’s nothing unhealthy about body positivity. Body positivity, in it’s purest form, is about working towards holistic health.
Mentally healthy. Physically healthy. Emotionally healthy. It all matters.Body positivity is the aspiration for overall health, not an aesthetic ideal Click To Tweet
Take care of yourself – treat your body with the love and respect that it needs, and take care of others.