Body positivity is such a buzz word right now, it’s everywhere from mainstream media to the words we speak to each other. The text book definition of body positivity is wonderfully put here by Wikipedia:
‘Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.’
This is an excerpt and you can read it all here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity
For a long time, I, like many people that were in my circle formed my own definition of it and I can tell you it has changed dramatically. When the saying first entered my world, I just thought ‘oh here we go, it’s just another movement about people pushing the belief that it’s perfectly OK to be overweight and that we should celebrate that. Before I go on, please forgive me as I was very ignorant and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I thought it was just another fly by night thing and that it would all go away when people realised the serious health issues behind obesity and the dangers of promoting it as OK. BUT and it is a huge BUT, I was WRONG!! Body positivity is indeed about feeling OK just as we are, not feeling ashamed because of the size of our bodies and it is much, much more. It challenges society’s, ingrained and long-standing views about what is and what is not acceptable. This extends way beyond weight, it challenges beliefs of what is and is not beautiful, it wants to obliterate stereotypes of ‘ugly’ and ‘beautiful’, it allows people space and celebration of being unashamedly and proudly exactly who they are. I am a converted, fan. I am a super fan of body positivity and what is stands for.
Unfortunately, in this world, it is still seen as taboo to promote body positivity for there are backlashes from just about every corporate business that’s foundations are built on instilling and maintaining self-insecurity. The fashion and beauty industry head this ‘government’ and the food and diet industry feed off what’s left over. You see, if we all felt comfortable in our own skins and validated without the need to be slimmer or more ‘beautiful’ then these companies would be out of business overnight!
What I’m not saying is that there is anything fundamentally wrong with putting on make-up or a new dress or wanting to be fitter and leaner. What I am saying is that if you don’t want to then that’s perfectly OK too. It does not automatically make you unattractive, greedy, lazy or any other negative description we seem to automatically attach to who we perceive is not ‘ideal’. It is also widely accepted that what is beautiful and perfect are the images we constantly see in the media. This is not true because beauty really is subjective. By this I mean that what I might find to be beautiful and perfect may be the opposite for someone else. This ‘world view’ is broken and is fake! You only have to look back in history and study fashion and the arts to see that images portrayed as ‘beautiful’ have changed over time. Also consider, that millions and millions of people are not attracted to the same ‘type’. It is the media that bands these images in full knowledge that because of our uniqueness as human beings, the likelihood of us mere mortals achieving the ‘look’ is next to impossible. But because of the seductiveness of these images and the high regard they are given, we will spend our time and money pursuing that which is unattainable and more importantly, completely unnecessary! I liken people to flowers; if you stop and consider for a moment the diversity of them, it will be easier for you to make this connection. How can we then say that a red rose is more beautiful than a yellow one or that a tulip is more worthy than a poppy. There are more than a million types of flowers on this planet and yet none of them are ugly.
Then there’s the medical field where people that do not fit into society’s definition of the norm are automatically considered to be a burden on the ever-decreasing funds of the medical services. We are told that if you are obese, it’s your fault. That you must be greedy or gluttonous or lazy or any other negative description that you can think of. Medical experts hand out information about what we should or should not eat but do not address what we may or may not be feeling. That perhaps we may be overweight because we do not have enough information or that we are battling an emotional issue. When you look at the patients in a hospital, you will find people from all walks of life and of all shapes and sizes. I am not denying the fact that being severely obese impacts our health but what I am suggesting is that we need to stop making negative judgements on people based purely upon their appearance.
The worrying and growing trend is now aimed at men too. They are in the midst of an identity crisis. Perfect abs, skin treatments and medical procedures are now common amongst men. They too are becoming conscious of and being judged on their outward appearance.
We ridicule people for how they look and not for what they do! If this is not wrong then I would beg the question, what is it?! So, the next time you see someone and notice that they are fat or thin or ugly or whatever, stop yourself the minute you become aware of these thoughts. Then make a conscious effort to see something nice about their appearance, or who they are or what they are doing. Gradually, your mindset will alter and if we all play our part in this, great change will come. Let’s all start seeing flowers, even when we look in the mirror!
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle