Despite having started in the 1960’s, recent years have seen the body positivity movement grow. With the media challenging body stereotypes and changing that ‘perfect’ skinny body type for alternatives which are more representative of the world’s body demographic, we are in the midst of a body revolution.
Whilst the body positivity movement has been received with mixed views and the general public are still adjusting to the societal changes that it brings, such as how we perceive our bodies, what terms like ‘plus-size’ mean and how we use the word ‘fat’, it has been welcomed as a positive change. Our old ways are on their way out. But what exactly does the phrase ‘body positivity’ mean and why is it so important?
‘Body positivity’ is a complex term that has been applied in so many ways that it’s hard to keep track of what it actually means. For example, ‘body positivity’ is also known as ‘fat acceptance’ – a phrase which, arguably, is not the same. ‘Fat acceptance’ might be said to suggest a lack of motivation towards a healthy lifestyle and is exclusive only to bodies that don’t fit the slim, toned mold which is usually represented in the media as the favourable body type. Instead, the term ‘body positivity’ is about self-love. According to body positive and self-acclaimed fat positive activist and blogger, Marie Southard Ospina, it’s about demonstrating that all bodies are good bodies.
Whilst this seems a straight-forward concept, the simplicity of it is almost lost on our society. We are bombarded with slim, ‘straight’ body types and, until recently, we have accepted this as a cultural norm. However, we are now witnessing seismic shifts in the way that the body is portrayed with the body positivity movement pushing for a more diverse range of bodies to appear in publications, advertisements and shops; including (and not limited to) bodies and individuals from the LGBT community and from varying ethnic backgrounds as well as more representation in the disabled community and from people varying in height. The movement wants to see every body type represented, whether they be a small, big, tall or short.
The movement is taking off in the celebrity world and media, however it is also very important that it takes off in your life too! But why? Why is it so important to embrace the basic principles of self-love and self-
acceptance and what will it do for you?
Accepting yourself and the body that you have been blessed with can help to give you so much confidence and not worrying or being ashamed of your body means that you are more open to taking opportunities that arise around you. By increasing your self-esteem, you may experience a feeling of liberation, no longer being tied down to thoughts of not being good enough, worth enough or being complete. Once you accept your body, you begin to realize the power within; the strengths that you have and how your body helps you every day to deal with, and enjoy, the world.
Shifting the focus of your life
This new confidence will help to give your life a new, or at least, improved direction. Not focusing on your inadequacy means that you are able to centre yourself on the things that you can do. You may begin to realize special skills that you have neglected and come up with new ways to put them into use.
Combatting mental health issues
A lot of eating disorders boil down to a sense of not accepting yourself as you are, feeling that you aren’t enough and seeing that you need to do, or be, more. By taking positive action towards views of your body, you can not only cure your own mental demons but help your friends, family and younger generations to focus on what is really important in life.
And all this means that you are enjoying life. Body image can take over your life and we certainly don’t have an easy time with looking at ourselves positively when there are so many things that we see that fool us into thinking otherwise. The road to recovery from negative body image, undoubtedly, takes different amount of times for everyone and it may be easy to be discouraged and slip back into old thinking habits. The most important thing, however, is perseverance. Understand how you can become more positive with the way that you look, take your focus away from the simple appearance of your body and surround yourself with those who share a confident attitude and are unashamed of their bodies. With this in mind, you could be leading a new life in no time!