Body Positivity And Why It Matters
As we move into Summer, there are an increased number of adverts for different diets, many extolling the aesthetic benefits of losing weight – of achieving that perfect ‘bikini body’. Confusingly, even magazines which contain articles on being confident whatever your size, also have fashion shoots which use models whose sizes do not reflect the general population in any way. There are also ranges of clothes for so-called ‘larger’ women which start at size 12… which makes little sense since the average size in the UK is actually a size 16. If that is the standard, how can a size 12 be regarded as ‘larger’ … who is making these rules? Surely a ‘bikini body’ is really anyone, of any size, simply wearing a bikini?
The Body Positivity movement evolved to challenge these ideas and assumptions, and the media are slowly taking some aspects of this on board, with some magazines now committing to stop airbrushing models and to be more representative in terms of size. An informal survey, however, reveals that there is still a huge gap between reality and expectation and women, in particular, are being ‘fat shamed’ simply for being ‘normal’ women. Social media often buys into this image of perfection and reinforces it. The pressure to be perfect means that people often use photo-shop images or filters to enhance their images to avoid being ‘fat shamed’ or trolled for not living up to a socially-defined and impossible idea of feminine beauty. The irony here is that this notion of ‘beauty’ has changed significantly over the years – it is entirely a socially-constructed concept.
How is Body Positivity actually defined?
Kaila Prins, a Body Positive Coach and Burlesque teacher defines it in the following way:
“I like to think that body positivity’s intention is really body acceptance. The idea that you can live comfortably in your body, as it is right now, or work on treating it right through nourishment and joyful movement and self-care without punishing yourself for looking the way you do.”
Although others may see it in a slightly different way, with people veering from ‘being ok with flaws’ to ‘loving yourself’, the general feeling is that Body Positivity is about being non-judgemental and accepting of your own body. Of course this can be difficult in a world where the reality of women’s bodies is at conflict with the media image.
So, how do you keep that sense of self-worth and body positivity in a world where you are being bombarded by unrealistic images of the female form?
Firstly, it’s important to be able to see beyond the image. Becoming more knowledgeable about how imagery is often manipulated and used in the media, helps you to be clear on what is real and what is false. Even the models used for these shoots don’t actually look like the final image that you see in the magazine! These images are not really about real people, so you can’t possibly compare yourself.
Start to view your body not just in how you look but in the amazing things it does for you. Bodies are not simply to be shown off in skimpy bikinis, they are there for everything you do – keeping you active and strong. Start to love your body and treat it well and you will feel the benefits.
Look around you and start to notice the many shapes and sizes of different bodies – the diversity of life that makes it interesting and makes you unique. Do you judge someone on the colour of their hair or their eyes? Of course not … so why value yourself less because of something which is similarly superficial? Your body is wonderful, irrespective of its size!
Remember that you are so much more than the size of your waistline – your size is one aspect of you, but you are so many things. Start thinking of yourself as a whole person – with all the qualities and skills that you possess.
Lastly, you don’t need anyone’s permission to feel confident, valued and good about yourself – once you start to acknowledge and believe in that, other people’s opinions don’t matter.
You are wonderful and amazing – fact!