What is Body Positivity? And What to Do When it’s Nowhere In Sight
A lot of people have heard this term thrown around, used in our culture and specifically, within social media recently. But what exactly is it, and how can we use the term to our best advantage?
Body Positivity. It’s the concept that all bodies are good bodies. Fat bodies, skinny bodies, trans bodies, cis-bodies, short bodies, tall bodies. Cellulite-y bodies, amputee bodies, muscular bodies, flabby bodies. All bodies are good bodies.
It’s a concept that is quickly starting to pick up steam and is being noticed everywhere: in expanded plus-size sections of department stores, viral Facebook posts of a mother’s love of her stretch marks, and on Ashley Graham’s cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And it seems fairly easy, right? Love the skin you’re in. You don’t have to change, because you’re perfect as you are.
But it’s so much harder than that. For years we have been influenced and taught by the media and our culture what the “right” body is. For women, it’s thin, sleek bodies with no cellulite and flowing, shiny hair. For men, it’s all about tone and muscle. So how are we supposed to switch gears so easily? How do we just accept that our imperfections are worthy of our love all of a sudden?
Let’s start with something easier: what body positivity is NOT. Body positivity is not being accepting of some bodies, but not all. Body positivity is intersectional, meaning it does not put other body types down in order to lift others up. For example, body positivity does not put down thin and slender people in order to glorify and embrace people who are curvy, have fat, etc. Body positivity does not include intentional weight loss. A friend of mine, Sarah Vance (link at the end of this post) has a lot of great resources and things to say about intentional weight loss and body positivity. Basically, the traditional “diet” in order to lose weight directly contradicts one’s acceptance of themselves as-is. I’m not the best at explaining this and would suggest that any and everyone should check out Sarah’s information on this topic, as she is pretty bossly.
If you find yourself understanding what body positivity is not, yet still not feeling totally accepting of yourself, you might consider body neutrality. Body neutrality is the understanding that you may not feel totally comfortable, totally loving or totally accepting of your body AT THIS TIME, but you understand that you’re on a path to get there.
Body Positivity: “Ooh, look at my legs in this dress, so cute!”
Body Neutrality: “Meh, I’m here. I’m allowed to fill this space with my body. I wish I could change how I look, but I can’t, and that’s okay.”
When you’re feeling the body positive vibes, and you’re all like:
And when it’s a struggle to love your body, you might be like:
But you could be like this:
Some may find body neutrality as a slippery slope: It can be easy to use body neutrality as a means of not caring for oneself. I, on the other hand, disagree completely. Body neutrality is a vehicle in which you can continue on in the journey to body positivity. Body neutrality suggests that there’s more to a person than their looks. You might be feeling particularly low about your body one day, and the idea of accepting that you’re neutral in your body allows you to look deeper into the other amazing parts of you: Your intelligence, your caring nature, your amazing ability to read people, etc.
Body neutrality forces us to consider all of the non-physical aspects of our beings that are rockin’. Body positivity is the acknowledgement that all parts of our beings, including physical and non-physical qualities, are rockin’. Catch what I’m sayin’? In all cases though, body neutrality is not a resting place--it’s a jumping off point, towards further self-love and acceptance, and hopefully, a place of body positivity. And body positivity, that’s what we need more of in this world. To love, care for, and respect each and every person’s body, just the way it is.
Basically, we need body positivity so we can be a little more like this kiddo:
Link to Sarah Vance: http://www.sarahvance.com/body-positive-movement/
Thanks for checking out the blog! I'm Kelsi, and all these thoughts and experiences are my own. I've got a pretty extensive journey with ED NOS and Orthorexia and I'm passionate about helping others with food and body image issues. I'm an advocate for women's rights, one of THOSE dog moms, and I am in a devoted, long-term relationship with my Netflix queue. Finally, I'm a strong believer in the concept that leggings are pants, and that jeans are leg prisons.