As some of you may or may not know, I often describe myself as “body positive.”
Some people adore this, some people are confused by it, and some people find it down right offensive. For the last two, it’s mostly because people don’t understand what “body positivity” is and why it is.
“Isn’t body positivity just and excuse to be lazy and eat ice cream all day?”
I truly wish I had a dollar every time someone asked me if body positivity is just an excuse to be lazy and not take action towards living a healthy lifestyle. That is actually the antithesis of body positivity.
Body positivity is learning to appreciate all the different facets of your body in relation to form and function so we can feel good about the bodies we have and lead happier, more confident, and more productive lives. People who feel positively about their bodies will respect the bodies – and this will be reflected in their actions. People who love and respect the bodies will nourish themselves, move and exercise to feel good, rest and recover, and engage in self-care that sets them up for a life where they thrive physically and spiritually.
Conversely, when we hold negative views about ourselves and our bodies, the actions we take are often out of self-hatred and we end up abusing our bodies. As I’ve observed many times and have part-taken in during various times in my life, people abuse their bodies in a multitude of ways every single day and these behaviours are reflected on a spectrum of extremes:
- eating foods that make them feel terrible
- over eating
- under eating
- restrictive dieting
- disordered eating patterns
- substance abuse
- over exercising
- not exercising
- not resting and recovery
- conforming their body into an iron maiden of societal beauty standards
- and much more…
“All you see is what you lacking, not what you packing.” – J. Cole
The by-product of this negativity we feel towards ourselves when we are not body positive is also reflected in how we treat other people. “We see the world not as it is, but as we are,” – if we are constantly criticizing ourselves, hating ourselves, and forcing ourselves into suffering we are incapable of feeling positively and feeling supportive of the people around us.
And this feeling is something that exists in people of all sizes and shapes – recall that body shame exists on a spectrum of extremes and these behaviours are exhibited in many different ways. This is why “fat-shaming” and “fit-shaming” are things, because people are so critical of themselves and suffering so much that they feel the need to shame others – misery loves company – so then there is this attitude that “If I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.”
But the world doesn’t have to be this way. This spectrum of body-shaming wouldn’t exist if people took time to dismantle the negative thoughts and behaviours that keep them stuck in the same place. Evidently, there are a lot of external factors in our society we can’t control. However we can focus on the things we can control – the internal factors: how we think and behave towards ourselves and others.
It won’t be an overnight turn-around, but one day at a time, one action a time, we can change ourselves and the world around us. It starts within, changing our negative self-talk, being more compassionate to ourselves, and being less critical. Once we start taking better care of ourselves, we can evolve to a point where we are able to be kind and supportive to others – making our lives and the world we live in significantly better.
Are you ready to join the movement?