Body Positivity. What is it? According to Wikipedia, whom as we all know is a bastion for knowledge and accuracy, it is
“acceptance and appreciation of all body types. It is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, and be accepting of their own bodies as well as the bodies of others. The movement sets forth the notion that beauty is a construct of society, and poses that this construct should not infringe upon one’s ability to feel confidence or self-worth.”
TL;DR: I’m okay, you’re okay. We’re all okay.
We all have different bodies. Some of us are rounder and softer; some of us are all angles and edges. We’ve got tall people, short people, large people, tiny people. But we all have something in common: we’re all people.
Body positivity is recognizing the humanity in another, regardless of size, shape, color, where they are on the gender spectrum, or orientation. We are all humans, deserving of love and respect.
However, when dealing with the idea of self-acceptance, Body Positivity doesn’t always acknowledge that not everyone is happy in their own skin. You can’t force someone to be happy with one thing if they know they’ll be happy with something else. In acceptance at all costs, the person who doesn’t accept things as they are can be left feeling guilty for wanting something else. Are they wrong for wanting to change?
Absolutely not. You get to define what you are willing to accept. If a movement forces their definition of acceptable on you, they are no better or worse than the societal ideals they are railing against.
Some people are healthy and large. Some people are healthy and tiny. Some of us are not healthy as large/small people. Some of us struggle to maintain a healthy body weight. Some of us gain ten pounds just by thinking about a donut, and some of us can eat ten donuts and not gain an ounce. None of this makes us bad people or failures in any sense of the term. It is simply who are as humans. And that’s okay.
What isn’t okay is denying our responsibility for our own health under the guise of body positivity. That being said, allowing society and media to dictate what “healthy” is isn’t okay either. That definition is going to be different for each of us. Moreover, if someone would in fact be happier and healthier if they changed their habits and modified their body*, making those positive life changes brings them to acceptance of themselves. Isn’t that at the heart of the movement?
For me personally, my current definition of healthy is “be more active” and “cut back on all the g-d bread.” What I call active may not be the same for others, but that’s okay. Similarly, my chosen definition of healthy eating may go in direct contrast of someone else’s. That’s okay too. Our bodies are not cookie cutter; they have different requirements. What works for one will not work for all, or even most.
I also feel better when I weigh less than I currently do. I move better, breathe better, and have an easier time inhabiting this physical form. Am I letting society dictate what that number on the scale will be? Hells no. Because that would not be the right number for my body.
No matter how much weight I lose, I will always have soft hips, a tummy pooch, and boobs. My upper arms will always be bulky. That is how I show up in this world, and it is okay. I am fine with this.
As long as you are healthy and content with the meat suit you are in, it doesn’t matter a lick what it looks like. As long as your food consumption habits and activity regime leave you feeling nourished and happy, you do you. You get to love your life, and you get to relish the body you’ve got.
That is the heart of Body Positivity, I believe. So, yes. There is room for healthy changes in your lifestyle. Yes, there is room for weight loss (if that is what you want). And yes, there is room for not doing a damned thing different if you don’t want to.
What it all boils down to is: I see you in this moment, and you are and always will be beautiful.
These are just a couple resources for Body Positivity. Please, do your own research and make your own decisions.
- The Body Positive Institute
- deVos, K. (2018). The Problem with Body Positivity, New York Times, Opinion Section. Originally published May 30th, 2018, p. A23.
- Malacoff, J. (2018). Where The Body-Positive Movement Stands and Where it Needs to Go, Shape Magazine.
* I say this, knowing and acknowledging their are many out there suffering from eating disorders, compulsive over-exercising, and other harmful body mod practices that are outside the realm of what I can realistically cover here. Body Positivity for these individuals is a long road toward self-acceptance, and professional help is usually required in order to come to terms with the underlying issues these disorders often mask.