Hey GIT Girls! Sex Health Saturday: Body Positivity: What Does It Mean to You? is here!
The idea is based on self-love, acceptance, and empowering others to feel comfortable in their own bodies. However, this can get skewed in the mainstream media, and especially in marketing techniques. There is this perception that one must feel or look a certain way in order to be body positive – or, it’s simply an excuse to be lazy and not better yourself.
Sex Health Saturday – Body Positivity: What Does It Mean to You?
First, let’s talk about these ideas of body positivity that I believe are false.
Life is about balance.
The Core of Body Positivity
Body positivity, at its core, is about loving yourself (and others), just for being you.
You don’t have to be the most attractive person in the room, for there is no competition. Another’s beauty is not the absence of your own.
True love is unconditional. Therefore, you don’t have to live up to ridiculous standards in order to be loveable – by yourself, or others. Love is patient, and love is kind – that goes for loving yourself just as much as anyone.
However, loving yourself shouldn’t include not caring about or ignoring your physical health; just as you shouldn’t ignore any other aspect of your health – they all intertwined, and they all affect one another.
True health is achieved by aligning body, mind, and soul.
Eating well, getting physical activity, drinking enough water, listening to your body- the right combination of these things equates to physical health.
But, there is another aspect, which many of us seem to forget.
Our mental health is just as important, and even if we think we are doing everything right to be physically healthy, if we are doing it out of a place of hatred for our bodies, or if we are doing it without really understanding why, it won’t do much good.
Body positivity is not a fad or diet, it’s a lifestyle.
And there is no universal right or wrong way of doing so- we are all unique. The goal is to find out for yourself what is healthy, through trial and error; through listening to your inner wisdom, which we all have.
Doctors and health specialists may have great things to teach, but we shouldn’t follow blindly. Decide for yourself if something works. You don’t need outside approval, nor do you need to fit into any standard. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to life.
I think we would all agree that being healthy is a positive.
But you can be healthy without stepping foot in a gym or eating a salad for every meal, just as you can be unhealthy when doing those things. It comes down to your reasons for doing so. Treat your body with love and respect; be kind and nourish your mind; and your soul will thrive.
Every day is a new day, and we should be even kinder to ourselves if we do something we see as a negative. Punishment is not the answer- giving yourself another chance is.
There are issues I see in the mainstream media body positive movement that actually enforce body shaming- headlines like, “get your bikini body”, “drop this amount of weight in that amount of time”, or using “plus-size” models like “the black friend”.
Are We Headed In the Right Direction?
The rise of body positive ad campaigns is definitely a step in the right direction, but I can’t help but feel they are just jumping on the bandwagon to make more money, at times. They tend to use self-love as a marketing tool, rather than teaching young people (not just women) what it’s really about.
On top of that, groups of people tend to be left out- disabled, chronically-ill, POC, LGBTQ+, “unacceptable” fat people, and so on. Yet, it’s our differences that make us beautiful to begin with.
In a society that is already hyper-focused on physical appearance (especially for women), many people are also silently suffering from body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses. Body shaming and lack of acceptance for all humans only contributes to these things.
When it’s seen as normal to hate your body or yourself, society can be the most deadly thing to those struggling more than average.
I know this firsthand, and finding self-love is the only way I made it out alive.
Instead of people recognizing how sick I was, I was often complimented on my figure. But let’s not forget that thin is not synonymous with healthy, nor is fat equal to being unhealthy.
While we’re at it, let’s stop thinking of fat as a bad word! It isn’t. It’s simply a descriptor, one that matters very little. Physical beauty is not the most important thing in the world anyways – true beauty lies within. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about your physical appearance, of course.
What Makes You Happy?
If you like wearing makeup, do it!
If a certain outfit makes you feel good about yourself, don’t worry about what anyone might say! Whether you feel best covered up, or wearing nothing at all, all that matters is that you love yourself and allow others to love themselves.
What’s empowering to some may not be for others, but that’s the wonderful thing about bodily autonomy and free choice – as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else, it shouldn’t be a problem.
As you gain awareness and understanding, you begin to realize what truly matters in this short life we are given – gratitude, helping others, being kind; having a healthy mind, body, and soul; and the simple fact that your body only exists to serve as a vessel to your mind and soul.
The fact that it does so much without you realizing it is incredibly beautiful in itself. There is still this idea that only the socially acceptable can be body positive, or that we need self-improvement BEFORE we can begin loving ourselves- when really, it should be the result of loving ourselves.
Leave a comment below about what body positivity means to you.
Until then…get it together girl!