(Photo credit: Astrid Westvang)
There’s a lot of passionate debate online over what body positivity means, but I’d like to focus on one part of the discussion: your view of your body. There will always be judgment coming from all directions, but that’s just noise. The most important ‘judgment’ is the one you make on yourself. In fact, it’s not judgment you need, but acceptance.
Having said that…
Yes, you have to love and accept your body just the way it is. BUT loving your body entails taking care of it by keeping it healthy and active.
To say you love your curvy and bouncy body just as it is while downing soda, chips and ice-cream that’s contributing to your high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high visceral fat levels (the fat surrounding your organs), then no, that doesn’t qualify as loving your body. You’re hurting your body.
To say you love your slender body just as it is while starving yourself, and using coffee and cigarettes as substitutes for meals, then no, that doesn’t qualify as loving your body. You’re hurting your body.
Are you using body positivity as a guise for complacency? Be honest with yourself. It seems there’s a blanket ban on the use of the words ‘fat’ or ‘thin.’ It has somehow become politically incorrect to say either one without causing a shitstorm of angry comments. While I agree that we are not in a position to judge anyone else’s body, we shouldn’t be walking on eggshells in assessing ourselves. If we can’t be honest about our own bodies, who will?
The goal of body positivity is to feel confident, have a healthy relationship with food and exercise, accept that even with our best efforts we will always have imperfections, and be in a constant state of bettering ourselves. That’s what body positivity is about. It is not an excuse to remain stagnant or complacent about your health in the name of ‘acceptance.’ That’s not acceptance. That’s laziness. That’s self indulgence. That’s the opposite of loving yourself.
If you have an eating disorder, please seek help. There’s no shame in asking for help. Acknowledging and accepting weakness, and deciding to do something about it is what loving yourself is all about.
If you have body image or confidence issues, face your fears and do something about it. Seek help as well if needed.
When you see images of confident women of different sizes, that positivity comes from within. That’s great for the woman in the picture. But being as thin or curvy as a body positive woman in a magazine says nothing about your own state.
It is NOT about size. Being body positive is LOVING your body. It is about treating it right. It is about eating well, exercising, or meditating. It is about constantly seeking ways to be better — in body, mind and spirit.
That means you have to get out of your comfort zone. Get off of your butt. Stop stuffing your body with sugar. Stop comparing yourself with others. Read more. Keep an open mind. Keep your health in check. Feel confident in your own skin. Say no to complacency.
Finally, be body positive enough to ignore judgements from others. The only opinion that matters is yours.
(…and that of your medical test results.)