This week I’ve got the pleasure of hosting the lovely Jody from Jody In Technicolour, the subject of the day is body positivity, which is a topic I feel very strongly about. Jody is focusing on three important myths about body positivity, including the impact on men, health and diversity.
Three myths about body positivity
- Body positivity has a size limit
The body positivity movement originated from plus size women and there is no doubt that our society’s fatphobia and skinny body ideals hit them the hardest. So many big and beautiful people are championing owning their own skin- and looking fabulous doing so. A quick scroll through body-posi Instagram will reveal 2.1 million posts of people having fun in their skin or wearing things they didn’t think they could. It’s heartwarming to slowly be stretching out what society’s view of beauty and health is, and the body positivity movements prominence on Instagram and Blogs shows that the media no longer have a monopoly on establishing a mono-beauty ideal.
But the reality is, there is no perfect body. The media may push ideals of being thin, tall, a certain amount of muscly and, for women, having whatever boob and beauty size is trendy this year. But they can’t agree. Some media worship at the chapel of big booty’s and double D’s. Others are persistently advocating for thin and athletic bodies so the truth is- no one ever feels like they’re winning. This is really important- for corporations to keep profiting from low self-esteem and people trying to change their bodies they have to keep moving the finishing line- the more impossible the better. You can’t have an Instagram booty without also having thick thighs and so just when you feel you’ve hit ‘attractive’ in one aspect they immediately find something else ‘wrong’ with you. It’s because of this I can say with absolute certainty that everyone has insecurities or things that one group of people have told them isn’t beautiful about themselves.
There is no doubt the biggest odds are stacked against plus-size women. But, skinny-shaming is also a reality. The way the whole system is designed is so no one walks away feeling good about themselves and sometimes we forget that body positivity needs to be a movement for everyone or no one. The reality is sometimes the movement gets side-tracked by shaming thin women instead. Here’s the short and simple truth: every person regardless of their size deserves to feel confident and beautiful in their skin.
2. Body positivity doesn’t care about health
What does it mean to be ‘positive’ about something? To be pro or for your body. A key question around body positivity is if it means anything goes. I say no. You cannot measure health by size or appearance but we know what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If you are thin and beautiful but skip meals and don’t drink your water? You’re not body positive. If you’re for your body then you need to understand it has needs- to at, to drink, to exercise. Any person, continually engaging in unhealthy behavior and abusing their body is not for body positivity because they are not being pro their own body and wellbeing.
The cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, however, is a balance. This is not to say having a treat meal or an off week negates your ability to be body positive. But every day you are actively making choices in how you treat your body- and some are for your wellbeing and some are against. Most importantly, you don’t know about other people’s health. Seeing them eat a meal or two is not enough information to preach at them so when it comes to health, we’re talking about self-reflection. Only I know how I treat my body and I know I’m not acting positively when I only eat mac n cheese for a week or don’t exercise.
Body positivity has never been about encouraging any sort of neglect to your body- it’s the opposite; it’s about loving your body and that includes caring for it. It just recognizes that how we care for our bodies isn’t the same for everyone, and not everyone will look the same as a result
3. Body positivity is for women
Whilst it’s fair to say women have a lot of unrealistic beauty standards put on them (‘snapping back’ six weeks after pregnancy for example) this is not solely a women’s issue. Whether it’s to be thinner, taller or have a six pack, men are also bombarded with images of beauty that leave them feeling inadequate. Diet and exercise cannot change your height or your body structure and will not fix feeling not good enough. When we praise women for loving themselves- let’s remember to do the same for men. Putting on some swim trunks, posting a selfie or shopping for an outfit can leave plenty of men vulnerable and toxic masculinity stops them feeling able to express that vulnerability. So many people comment flippantly on how men’s bodies looks in ways they wouldn’t towards women and we need to stop perpetuating a double standard. Eating disorders amongst men and boys are growing and if the body positivity movement doesn’t include our brothers, sons, dads and boyfriends then we’re just trying to make ourselves comfortable instead of enacting change.
I think body positivity is an amazing and inspiring movement- I wish I’d seen more diversity growing up, but after being bullied for how I looked for years, it was a long slow journey to self-love. Some of the most damaging conversations have been with other ‘body positive’ people refusing to acknowledge my self-esteem issues because I was skinny. I think the body positivity movement in its purity is doing amazing things- but let’s keep our eyes on the goal: to redefine beauty, and make sure we’re not leaving anyone behind.
“I blog/Instagram about my colorful fashion and lifestyle over at @jodyintechnicolour and am passionate about keeping things as bright and full of life as possible. You can find me drinking coffee, dressing impractically and planning games for my dream job as a youth worker. Follow along with me for colorful outfits, candid blog posts and enough ice cream to sink a ship!”
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