Body Positivity

Submitted by Juliet M. on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:05 - 0 Comments
Stretch marks, cellulite, scars, acne, fat. All physical attributes that our society tells us to hate about ourselves, but why? The history of self-hate goes way back, and continues to affect almost every person in our society today. From Ancient Greek times in which women’s bodies were worshiped for being full and curvy, to now, ironically enough, where women are constantly getting surgery to “fix” their bodies, the unreasonable expectations seem to never end. Unfortunately, these ideals are ingrained in our culture to the extent that we constantly self-deprecate. According to a study done by Today, on average women obsess over their bodies for approximately 55 minutes a day.
 
But how do we fix this plague of self-deprecation? Luckily, the body positivity movement has arrived to repair self-hate and body image issues that so many of us face. People of all backgrounds are coming together to change the narrative around what is considered to be a “perfect body.”
 
But first, what even is body positivity? There are a few ways to define this movement and way of life. Dancer and activist, Ragen Chastain, defines it as
 

“viewing and treating your body as a treasured friend.”

It is accepting and loving your body as it is and not trying to actively reach a goal weight, go on a crazy diet trend, or buy products that promise the impossible. Additionally, movement is an intersectional one, encompassing all races, genders, abilities, or any marginalization one may face. According to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. This statistic shows how body dissatisfaction can result in self harm and eating disorders, which negatively affects all people, both mentally and physically.
 
Many body positive influencers from around the world have utilized social media and started campaigns in order to inspire change around how we think of our bodies. Bodyposipanda, Jessamyn Stanley, Zach Miko, and Michelle Elman are changing the way people think about food, exercise, scars, cellulite, and other body “flaws” through Instagram, online forums, Ted Talks, and Youtube videos.
 
Body positive icon, Bodyposipanda, uses the online Q&A forum, The Unedit, and her own personal blog to answer people’s inquiries about how to approach questions around self-confidence, body-shaming, and diet-talk. Some articles even touch on unthinkable topics such as what to do when your doctor body-shames you, or how to react when your partner or friend insults your body. The Unedit, promotes discussions around mental health and self-image that anyone can go to read, and submit inquiries.
 
There are some companies in particular that are drastically improving the representation and acceptance of all bodies. For instance, companies like Aerie and Dressmann presented campaigns in effort to show all body types in underwear, to increase awareness of body positivity. Many companies, such as Victoria’s Secret, have been heavily criticized for only presenting thin body types in shows and advertisements. In contrast, in this year’s New York Fashion Week, designers like Rihanna made a strong effort to be inclusive on the runway, hopefully transcending those ideas into all areas of the media.
 
People will often criticize the body positivity movement by saying that it is not very important in the grand scheme of things, or that it is purely an anti-health movement. Some say that the movement is just encouraging people to be lazy, unmotivated, and unhealthy. Fortunately, this critique does not hold true. The body positivity movement focuses on the model that goes by the name of “Health at Every Size”, which, just like the name, means that one can still exercise, have healthy eating habits, and have a happy life without fitting into a single body ideal.
 
Adding on to this idea, The Body Positive, an organization committed to promoting better self image, considers a more holistic approach when talking about body positivity. Negative self image does not only influence mental health, but pretty much every aspect of life. Not being positive about your body can potentially affect one’s career trajectory, relationships, and overall happiness.
 
Alessandra Jurick, a representative from The Body Positive, shares her insight on the movement. Jurick first explains how the organization, The Body Positive, focuses on a weight neutral model when discussing body image.
 
She says,“you can be healthy regardless of your size,andThe Body Positive promotes health through intuitive eating and exercise.” Instead of obsessing over your body and dieting, you can intuitively make food and exercise choices based on what works for you as an individual. Additionally, she acknowledges the extremely difficult nature of self-acceptance, and comments on what to do when you are faced with negative self talk. She expresses the importance of “combating the negative critical voice inside your head, and when it comes up recognizing it, and challenging it.” Would you talk to a friend the same way you talk to yourself? Unless you are very kind to yourself, the answer is probably no.
 
So, why should we all be following body positivity? In short, body positivity is not just a short lived idea, it is a movement. Negative self image is something that will always disturb our society until we interrupt it with positivity. If all companies, individuals, and campaigns make a commitment to making a more inclusive way of representing different kinds of bodies, we will live with a much happier mindset.
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