Understanding the Body Positive Movement
Body Positive. You would think such an uplifting movement would be a reasonably neutral subject, but that has turned out not the be the case. It did not take long for critics to decry it, claiming it promoted unhealthy habits that lead to physical complications. Like many other movements that encourage acceptance and positivity, it brought out the bullies who feel threatened by this idea for some unknown reason. Those within the diet and fitness industry are some of the loudest critics, which leaves one feeling that their biggest fear is the hit to their pocketbook if they can no longer shame people into buying their products.
Here is what the critics fail to understand. The body-positive movement does not promote a size, shape, or look. The idea is that no one should feel shame about how they look. From obese to emaciated, tall to short, curly hair to straight hair, fair-skinned to the darkest hue, scarred or unscarred, ALL types of bodies are acceptable and should be free from judgment, particularly self-judgment.
Can you choose to exercise and follow a healthy diet and still be body-positive? Yes. Can you decide to lose weight and still be body positive? Yes. Can you whiten your teeth, color your hair, change your appearance, and still be body-positive? Yes. You can also do none of these things and be body-positive.
The idea of the body-positive movement is to remove the feeling of shame many feel about their body based on messages received from society, family, culture, and media. Learning how to embrace one's appearance when it does not match the norm or what is considered the standard of beauty can be difficult. There are so many outside forces ready to reinforce the idea that we are not okay, not acceptable, the way we are; learning to identify and let go of these messages can be freeing. It can lead us away from abusing our bodies to treating it with a level of kindness and self-care that we shunned in the past.
The process of letting go of this body shame can be a long, painful road. There may be years of bullying and abuse involved. For some, the message may come from within their families through subtle comments. Looking at over-filtered and photo-shopped images on social media can contribute to these feelings. But very often, when one can begin to embrace their body and begin to appreciate their unique beauty rather than focus on perceived flaws and imperfections, other mental barriers start to fall away that have prevented them from living life to its fullest.