Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. I say that beauty is embodied by those who refuse to believe they are anything less–regardless of a beholder. The body positive movement (more so a philosophy than an active crusade) agrees with me, and it is the belief that the present standard of beauty is bogus, and dominated by unattainable and unhealthy goals set by self-loathing women and imperfect men. The world is obsessed with women and their bodies, but only in a dissecting way. Women are mourning their bodies, not celebrating them because the media would have us believe that there is something wrong with our bodies. After all, companies and organizations gain greatly when women waste millions on diet fads and untouched gym memberships, when those women could save hundreds by being comfortable in their own skin. The body positivity movement is about health, identity and self-respect. Women of any weight, age, race, measurement or proportion can be/are beautiful.
The appreciation of curves and physical diversity reduces fat-shaming, bulimia, anorexia, depression and bullying among women everywhere, based on the fact that it’s about acceptance. The body positive movement sets the challenge of getting women to accept themselves and other women on a fundamental level, in spite of “flaws” and “imperfections,” so that we may embrace and adore those oddities. A great way to talk about what body positivity is, is to talk about what it isn’t. It isn’t about eroticizing or sexualizing, nor is it about tolerance–it’s about softening the frown of superficiality, and revisiting points in history where women were praised for curvaceousness outside of a subgroup.
Body positive ideals borrow greatly from the “fat positive” movement (also known as fat feminism), which indicates that anyone can be happy and healthy at any size–weight not being a clear indicator of how well one eats or how often one exercises. The fat positive movement wants to weaken the effects of size discrimination, and to eliminate an innate desire to apologize for our fat. ‘Body positive’ expands on that idea by being accepting of all sizes under the doctrine that beauty is about confidence, presentation and self-awareness. It gives women the permission to love themselves and celebrate femininity in terms of shapeliness. This mission makes it possible for both women who are shaped like Zoe Saldana and Mo’Nique, or Keira Knightley and Christina Hendricks, to compete in the same mainstream arena without criticism on either side of the weight spectrum.
Steps toward being body positive in your own life can unhinge mainstream media’s body-shame ambitions. This can be done by not focusing on body image issues when having a conversation with co-workers and friends OR working on praising other women for their physical attributes, as opposed to tearing them down. Also, it’s fine to eat comfort foods, but also eat heart healthy foods, and walk an extra few blocks to burn calories if you think you’d benefit from it. And, be open to trying new foods in general. Wear clothes that are both flattering and comfortable, and always take an extra moment to give yourself a small bit of praise before you leave your home every morning.