Being Body Positive is Not Always Easy

I wholeheartedly support the body positivity movement and applaud the way it’s giving room for new representations of multiple types of bodies in our culture. I accept that it has been criticized for many reasons (some more reasonable than others), but the central idea of accepting all body types as worthy of being just what they are, bodies, is at least in my eyes, extremely necessary in our day and age.

However supportive I am, it doesn’t mean I myself can always be body positive about my own body. I’ve wondered, why is that? Why can’t I extend the sentiment to myself or celebrate my own body even though I know it’s just like any other body? Even though I’m extremely privileged as I’m able-bodied, cisgender and white, and there shouldn’t be anything “wrong” about my body type? All I am is a little curvier, chubbier and shorter than the “ideal” we are told, and what if my body was something completely different that should be okay too, shouldn’t it? When you reason it to yourself like that, it doesn’t feel like a big of a deal. Of course, I’m body positive! But it’s another thing to look in a mirror and mainly look for the things that aren’t appealing in your eyes and feel body positive then.

I’ve thought of a couple of reasons for this contradiction I’d like to share with you:

First: I’ve realized that the times I spend staring at my body thinking negative things definitely outnumber the times I stare at my body thinking positive things. If I constantly tell myself that something about my body doesn’t look right, of course, that’s going to stick. At least, more than the positive things.

Second: Similarly, I see way more images of the idealized bodies (that’s representing only 1-3 body types, tops) than images of all kinds of bodies. The media is full of these people who have “perfect bodies” that either just naturally look that way or are made to look that way by photoshop or other techniques. Our subconsciousness is not immune to the subtle manipulation that these images do: they basically create the impression that every successful person on earth looks like that, and if you don’t look that way, you will never be successful. Way to mess with our brain, media!

Third: The notion above lead to the realization that essentially, the beauty standards of our culture are commodities. The media and the beauty industry have shaped our thoughts on what being beautiful means, based on business and business only.

I know that most of us already know that the beauty standards and the bodies we see on television or magazine covers are not attainable for all of us or even realistic, yet we still fall into the trap because of the lack of representation and our own negative voices always reminding that we are somehow “less than”. We are so used to comparing ourselves to the images we see around us, so it’s really no wonder why being body positive can be quite hard sometimes. Though, it’s a battle I’m hoping to win someday, and just might, because of the increasing visibility of wider representation of all kinds of bodies.