The Body Positive Movement, What is it?
What is the Body Positive Movement
The body positive movement feels like something that has exploded in the last handful of years. You see it everywhere you go. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and even in commercials for clothes and skincare. The advocation for loving all shapes and sizes has become one heck of a movement.
If you google “what is body positivity” the first thing that pops up is from Wikipedia. There you will find this definition; Body positivity is a social movement initially created to empower and shed light on plus size women and men while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance. It also states that the goal of the body positive movement is To address unrealistic beauty standards and to build the confidence of oneself and others
In layman’s terms, it’s a social movement that advocates loving your body. No matter what you or society has told you is flawed about it, being body positive reminds you that you have the right to love the body your soul lives in.
Harmful messages we get from all around us every day
You might be thinking, sure sounds great, I will just stop hating everything about myself and start loving me because Instagram told me it’s now ok. Trust me I get the sarcasm all the way over here. Honestly, reprogramming yourself to love and respect your body isn’t an easy task. Every day we are all surrounded by harmful messages from all over the place. From society’s standards of what is considered beautiful, to well-meant messages from friends and family.
Think about this, every time you turn on the T.V and you see an ad for some weight loss program or diet how do you react? What thought process goes through your mind? Seeing those men and women who have successfully lost weight, you start to compare yourself! The Diet Industry is a mastermind at subliminally telling you that your body isn’t good enough. That you aren’t a winner unless you lose weight.
They should be good at it, the diet industry is a 65billion dollar a year industry. They make money on selling you an impossible dream. First, they have to make you feel like who you are isn’t good enough and you need their magic to fix all that is wrong with you! I don’t even want to get started on the diet industry. Trust me I plan on tackling that ball of wax later down the road. Believe it or not, they have even wormed their way into the body positive movement with cleverly marketed advertising. (wait for next weeks post on that one)
The Doctor Delima
Let me tell you one of my “fat-shaming” moments in a doctor’s office. I was in the cold room, waiting as calmly as I could for some pretty serious test results. The nurse practitioner came in and sat down with me. She pulled up my file and then looked over at me. I watched her look me up and down then look back over at her file on the computer as if something didn’t add up.
She said to me “Sorry give me a moment I think I have the wrong file, this can’t be you.” I just happened to look over at the screen and saw the name on the file. She was right, that wasn’t me. She laughed and said “I thought so! The blood sugar on these results is way to low for someone of your size.”
My heart sank to my stomach, and my face flooded with warm embarrassment. All I heard was “someone of my size”. The shame I felt at not having a healthy body took over. As soon as she pulled up my file, I peered over her shoulder and saw my name. What came next was pure vindication on my part. The blood sugar was lower on my paperwork than the original file she pulled up. The look of shock on her face was worth the humiliation. Though I’ll never forget either of those feelings.
You see she had judged me, not based on lab results, but her own eyes and what she thought I should be. The point is harmful messages about our bodies can be found in some of the least expected places. It’s for moments just like this that the body positive movement was born.
But they mean well!
Friends and family are the providers of some of the worst body image messages we can find. My whole life I’ve suffered through endless back-handed compliments. I bet you’ve heard them too. Things like:
Realistically I could go on and on writing out the list of crappy things I’ve heard over the years from loving family members and close friends. All thinking they are doing you a favor, all the while you are learning to hide your body and feel shame about who you are with each little comment.
- You have such a pretty face! If you only lost a little weight imagine what you could look like.
- You are very beautiful, if you dropped a few pounds you would be an absolute knock out! (this was from one of my first therapists. The person I am today would have walked out on him in a heartbeat, back then I didn’t know better)
- Honey, someone with your shape shouldn’t wear that
- Black is such a slimming color. (this one led to an entire wardrobe of dull grey and black clothing. THANK GOD for my best friend who refused to let me buy black anymore as we became adults)
- Do you really think you should be eating that?
They are all harmful messages wrapped up in sweet little packages. I say harmful because they reinforce the already messed up image you have developed in your mind about your body. They remind you that you are different, that you need to hide or become invisible. More importantly, they whisper to you that your body is flawed.
Shopping sends another message
Another way that society sends messages out there to remind us bigger folks that we are less accepted is clothes shopping. For most of us, finding clothes that express who we are means going to a specialized plus-sized store.
For years big name brand stores have kept sparse (if at all) plus-sized sizing options. If they did have the availability, the clothing was always drab. Shapeless, colorless. More things to send the message “hide your body, we don’t want to know you exist.” This message has been picked up loud and clear by so many men and women throughout the past decades.
Now because of pressure from social movements such as the body positive movement, you are starting to see more of these stores open the doors up to include better styles and options for people of size. Yet even in an age of inclusivity finding clothes for a bigger body seems to be an uphill battle.
Looking online for clothes is another nightmare. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone web surfing on sites that deem to be plus-size. When you find something that looks really cute what is the first thing you do? Check out the sizing options! Oh yes! This one says 4x! Then you go to the sizing guide and see that a 4x is equal to a US size of 14 or maybe 18 at most. Your heart sinks. Another message sinks into your brain that you are the wrong shape. Your body is flawed.
Why is the Body Positive Movement important in your life.
While those are just a few examples of messages that bombard us from every angle of life, I can tell you honestly that there are so many more. Messages that are constantly telling us what is acceptable of our own bodies. What is even worse is that WE BUY INTO IT. We let people, or clever marketing, tell us that we are flawed. That we would be perfect in a different form. It’s from these messages that those “when I lose weight” dreams being to form.
You know those dreams that tell us life will be perfect when we lose weight. All the things we want and need right now will be something we deserve after we change our bodies.
ENOUGH! The only message you need to hold dear to your heart and repeat to yourself every day is this. I AM WORTHY AND DESERVE HAPPINESS RIGHT NOW!
Having the body positive movement to draw strength from and help reinforce positivity in how you see your body is an amazing thing. Being body positive can open up so much for you as an individual. Looking in the mirror and being able to truly love the person you see is one of the most powerful feelings you will ever have. Once you achieve that kind of relationship with the beautiful house your soul resides in, you are unstoppable!
Giving yourself permission
Cultivating a more positive mindset towards your body is giving yourself permission to accept love. Love from yourself as well as love from others. It’s giving yourself permission to have a real, honest relationship with who you are. Even get to know that person! So many of us avoid having a real relationship with our bodies because we have been programmed to be ashamed of that body.
When you open up to love accepting your body in its entirety, it allows you to step free of all the negative B.S that can drag you down. Being a body positive person isn’t you saying “ok I give up I’m always going to be miserable and fat and unhappy”. This is a very huge myth, and something I will be diving into further in next week’s post. What it is allowing you to do though, is take some of the pressure of perfection off of your heart. It allows room for you to create growth. If that growth includes losing weight then that’s perfectly ok.
Once you start loving your body, the respect you have for it will help in the challenges you face. If one of those challenges to lose weight then you will start doing so from a place of acceptance and not punishment. Perhaps your challenge is to be as fabulous as you want to be in the body shape and size you are. That is perfectly okay too! This world isn’t beautiful because everyone looks the same. It’s beautiful because of how amazingly different we are!
So go on, give yourself permission to accept that you are beautiful. The body you live in is amazing! Accept that even if you ultimately want to change, that it’s okay to love who you are right now, at this moment.
The Bottom Line
The body positive movement is something that every single human on this planet can benefit from. The power to love the skin you’re in is a power that only you can hold. It’s absolutely unstoppable and yet so many of us let it go to waste. So caught up in our insecurities, and obsessions over what see as “flaws”.
Those messages will always be out there. Yes, they can be harmful. They can hurt and make you feel less than worthy. If you let them. The choice is yours, to live in a world that tells you every day that your body isn’t ok. Or, perhaps you make a better choice. One that lets you look in the mirror and smile. One that lets you accept how amazing and beautiful you truly are. A choice that gives you the power to love and be loved.
I know what choice I want to make.
Tune in next week for a discussion on the myths and misinterpretations of being body positive. If you’ve liked this post and would like to get more just like it sent to your inbox please sign up for my email list! I’ll even throw in my handy self-care checklist for free!
Until next week my friends, stay safe and remember you are never alone!
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