What is “body positivity”? It’s simple. The answer is in the name. Body positivity is being positive and feeling positively about one’s own body. It is learning to love your body despite social norms and ideals about what a beautiful or good body is. Body positivity is accepting your body and loving your body for what it is - with all its features and what others may consider flaws. It means doing what feels good as well as healthy for your own body without worrying about meeting social expectations.
Everyone strives to be perfect. This perfection can be in different spheres of our lives. One of them is our body and appearance. A lot of us dream to achieve the physique of the models and celebrities we see on media platforms. What many of us fail to understand is that this idea of “perfect” is just a construction of society. It’s something we, as humans, have decided is perfect. There is no such thing as perfection. Thus, it is impossible to reach.
We’re all imperfect, but it’s what makes us unique as individuals. If we’re all the same “perfect” then we lose our individualism. As women, men, fathers, and mothers, it’s important for us to realise this. We should refocus our attention on what’s really important - accepting ourselves for who we are and doing what is healthy for ourselves.
There are 7 ways in which we can come to achieve body positivity:
One bad habit that is common to many people across the globe, men and women alike, is that we tend to get angry at ourselves or sad about the way we look. This can be anything like our size, skin tone, or special features (moles, warts, etc.).
The first step to being body positive is to let go of this anger and sadness. Don’t be upset because you don’t look like that new celebrity from that new TV show. Accept that you don’t look that way and that you are not that celebrity. You are you. You’ve either given birth to a child or been there to support someone who has. It’s a pretty stressful time and it’s natural that it’ll show on your body. Don’t be angry about the stretch marks or the few extra pounds. Accept that they’re there.
Follow a diet that gives you the nutrition you need. Eat the food that makes you feel healthy. A well balanced diet can make sure your body stays healthy and functions effectively. Don’t starve yourself if you feel like you’re on the chubbier side. Don’t overeat if you think you’re too thin. Eat the quality and quantity of food that makes your body feel healthy, avoiding eating unhealthy food. It’s okay to snack sometimes, but make sure it’s in moderation.
Exercising doesn’t mean torturing your body everyday to lose those extra calories. It means keeping your body active and engaging in physical activity which will make you feel healthy. Do your bit to ensure that the lifestyle you lead is healthy and up to your own health standards. Be physical so that you can feel good. Enjoy what you do so that you feel happy and fit. The aim of this exercise should be to achieve wellness, not weight loss (or gain).
If you’re going to talk about your body, talk about it in a positive way. Talk about the measures you’ve taken to achieve wellness and how they’ve worked out. Talk about how you’re taking steps to ensure your health. At the same time, try to keep these conversations to a minimum. This is because the more you talk about it, the more your mind will drift back to negative thoughts. Don’t talk about your body in a negative way. Don’t talk about how you hate some aspect of your body and avoid having those conversations.
One thing that people often do, under the misguided impression of motivation, is compare their bodies to other people. Comparing your body to someone who you think looks good does more harm than good. It may motivate you to engage in healthier habits, but it’ll do so by making you feel bad about the fact that you’re not there yet. On the other hand, you may compare yourself to people who are less “fit” or “healthy” according to your standards.
The drawbacks of this are that it makes you more judgemental and may promote negative feelings. It may also make you complacent because you feel like you’re in a better place than them when you may not even be at a place that is consistent with your own idea of healthy. If you must compare, compare yourself with your past self. See how much you’ve improved and feel good about it (without letting it get to your head).
When you’re feeling low about your body, look at yourself in the mirror. Instead of focusing on all the things you see as negative, refocus your attention on the positive aspects of your body. Appreciate your beautiful eyes, your toned leg muscles or how your arms are a lot more well defined than they used to be.
When you see things that you’d ordinarily term as flaws, think about them in a more positive light. When you see those stretch marks, think about the beautiful baby they came with. When you see blemishes, think about them as battle scars indicating the courage and strength you showed during your pregnancy. When you see the little extra fat around your stomach, think about all those nights you spent taking care of yourself and your baby.
Last, but not the least, reduce the importance you give to aspects of your body and appearance. Don’t give them power over you to make you feel bad about yourself. When someone compliments you, accept it wholeheartedly. At the same time, don’t let that be the only reason you feel good about yourself. Give less importance to society and media’s ideas of what a perfect body or even a good body looks like. Give yourself your own feeling of healthiness and importance it deserves.
The importance of body positivity extends beyond your own self worth and esteem. Think about your kids. Their little ears, though you may not realise, are listening when you express your dismay about your own body. These expressions affect them as much as they affect you. Their ideas of self worth and self esteem stem from their parents. Teach them how to love their own bodies instead of how to always want something else!