Recently I’ve been stepping out into the body positive space. Generally this has been well received but inevitably there have been some people who don’t like it. That’s fine, and it’s healthy to disagree respectfully. In fact, being challenged with other opinions encourages growth.
That’s why I’ve been thinking about what ‘body positive’ means for me and what it doesn’t. Please note, these are my thoughts only, and not representative of any movement or organisation. But I thought it a good idea to set out my stall so that you can see exactly what I’m about, and whether or not it resonates with you.
It’s often easier to work out what you want by first deciding what you don’t want, so I’ll begin by saying what body positivity is NOT (in my mind), and then go on to tell you what I think it includes.
Body positivity is NOT
- Having to be relentlessly positive all the time. Sadness, grief, pain and anger are part of the normal range of human emotions, and absolutely need to be expressed. Being whole means being genuine.
- Having to love all of your body all of the time. I certainly don’t! Insecurity is normal, and self-acceptance can take time.
- Being arrogant, deluded, intellectually dishonest or pretending you have no flaws. On the contrary, only an honest appraisal of where you are will help you choose what to do next. The important thing is to choose from a place of positivity, as this has been shown to get you further along the path to success.
- Saying you shouldn’t lose (or gain) weight if that’s what you want to do (though I do reserve the right to go to war with the diet industry and its dishonest practices). However, I think you are more likely to be successful with your weight goals if you approach them from a position of seeing your body as your friend, not your enemy.
- Fat (or thin) acceptance. Rather it is delight in the infinite diversity of the human form and the many ways in which health can appear and be experienced.
- Only about size. It’s about daring to like what you see rather than criticizing or hating your body for having, for example, scars, stretch marks or skin pigmentation.
- An excuse to live an unhealthy life or not strive to achieve your best. On the contrary, the more you love your body, the more you will be inspired to take care of it and show what it can achieve.
Body positivity IS
- The acknowledgement that the human body is amazing and does incredible things every moment of every day.
- The understanding that being comfortable in your own skin is key to fulfilling your potential and to your ability to grow, develop and live life to the full.
- The recognition that the health conversation is open to everyone, and that health comes in many shapes and sizes.
- Challenging stereotypes associated with size and shape, and refusing to conform to such stereotypes.
- The conviction that shaming and discrimination on the basis of size have no place in society, and the determination to advocate accordingly.
- Recognition that there is no correlation between size and morality, and we should not speak or act as though there is.
- The certainty that shame and self-hate are inherently detrimental to health, and therefore have no part in living a healthier life.
- The understanding that being fully and gloriously the person you want to be (providing you are not causing harm by doing so) is a valuable goal, and that forcing yourself into a particular mould due to social pressure is not.
- The desire to live a physically and mentally healthy and abundant life in honour of our incredible bodies to the best of our ability.
I am so pleased that I was given the motivation to write this post. It’s enabled me to clarify what I really stand for.
Now it’s over to you. Does this speak to you or have I missed something important? Let me know.