Take a look at just about any body confidence or body positivity campaign and you’ll probably be faced with a whole bunch of women in their underwear. This is great for the purpose of the campaign. After all, if you want to promote different types of bodies, you must show different types of bodies. As a result, there seems to be am underlying message that is often glossed over, but is still conveyed: body positivity is usually portrayed as being “sexy.”
Image via Yoga Mix
However, women, and people in general, should not be searching for this kind of self-acceptance just to make themselves seem more marketable to the outside world. The sexiness that is associated with body confidence campaigns seems to take away the fulfilling and purposeful act of loving oneself that the campaign supports. Negative body images have proven time and time again to have harmful and even dangerous effects. Free Being Me highlights a study that reports 6 out of 10 girls stop doing something because they feel bad about how they look– even if that activity would benefit them or was something they loved. This is a problem. So many of these types of studies, along with the fact that these negative perceptions can lead to eating disorders, show how important body positivity and confidence actually is.
Body confidence isn’t just being sexy. It’s being happy and accepting of our bodies. And, as Girl With Curves explains, being exposed to our naked bodies is a step in changing the perceptions we have of ourselves. So, it makes total sense for these campaigns to look the way they do.
Image via The Odyssey
The confusing thing is then why so many campaigns focus on being sexy. Some sources come right out and say it. In one article about how to boost body confidence, realbuzz says that “body confidence is attractive, and if you love the way you look, so will everybody else,” and “When you have low self-esteem, it’s easy to fall into the habit of wearing things that hide your body.” These two statements show that people who are confident in their body are expected to show them off. They then elaborate on how wise it is to dress for your shape and not shy away from clothes that make you feel good, which is somewhat contradictory. But, again, this broadcasts the idea that something that hides your body can’t be comfortable or make you feel confident. On this, I call Bullsh*t. Sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than the feel of your favorite sweater. Sometimes your favorite leggings under some shorts look amazing. Sometimes people just don’t like to show their skin for personal or religious reasons. And this shouldn’t be a problem. Body positivity and confidence should be for YOU. Body positivity should not be for the world.
Image via Victoria Secret
So, why is it that whenever talking about body positivity people focus on boobs… or hair…or butts? Women’s Health exemplifies this when advising to talk about things you like about your body to help you feel more confident. Do people really think that you can only be focused on the generally “sexy” parts of a person to be confident about their entire body? Why aren’t people encouraged to love their nose or their eyes or their palms or their birthmarks? If my birthmark in the shape of a smiley face makes me feel extremely happy about my body, why should I care more about my boobs?
Body comfort is something personal and important. It isn’t something that should be nurtured to look more societally beautiful or confident. And portraying it as such undermines the struggles people go through to be happy with themselves. Sure, some of these things may result naturally with being more confident for some people, but they are not anywhere near the focus or purpose of becoming more comfortable with your body.
Image via Escourt News
Body confidence is something that is undeniably good. And people should find their way to this state of being for themselves. And in the process, wear and do whatever it is that makes YOU feel more confident and comfortable and happy.