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Breanna Coon / Her Campus

Define Body Positivity

I went around asking two questions to people through my social media, in person, texts, and other methods. I was shocked in the results I got. I was happy in the conversations it brought. If you’re curious the multitude of answers I received are anonymously listed at the end. It was relieving to hear all the honest feedback. It even helped me talk to people that I haven’t talked to in years. I will say that I don’t agree with every response and that’s okay. 

My first question was what does body positivity mean to you? It is hard to find the perfect answer to what body positivity means. For me, I feel content in my body. Some days I’ll look in the mirror and think I look great and other days I’ll look and find myself quickly looking away. My hope is that body positivity lessens the judgmental thoughts on others for having a different body shape or appearance. Wishfully thinking, I want body positivity to make everyone feel good about being themselves and find pride in their skin. Yes, somedays I feel unattractive, but those days are the days that I should talk more about what I love about my body and stop looking at my flaws. I should tell myself I have great eyebrows not that I need to tweeze them. I should tell myself that my hair is gorgeous not greasy, my body is curvy not ugly, my smile is cute not uneven, and so on and so forth. 

Reading what body positivity means to others built me up. It gives me hope that maybe one person is reading this who is not fully educated on body positivity and is now able to understand how body positivity is more than just encouraging others to be more fit and active. Hopefully, I have readers who are agreeing as they read and feeling encourage about their body and the acceptance of all the different body shapes and size this world has to offer. The words people used on how body positivity means being, accepting, encouraging, treating, viewing, focusing, learning, understanding, feeling, loving, and keeping start off so open. There is emotion encouraged from these words. The word choices from people change as you can feel the frustration from the word bullshit, to the simplicity of keep a smile, and the empowering of unapologetically. Not once did I receive the exact same answer and that is something, I hope will always be true. For me, body positivity means accepting the fact we’re different and embracing the beauty of yourself and everyone else around you. You may not agree with my definition of body positivity and that’s okay because it is my definition. Find your definition and embrace it. Maybe change it as you learn and grow through life.

I asked an even more personal question. What is one word you would use to describe your body? I find this question hard. How can I find one word to match the many inches of my body? For some, finding one word wasn’t impossible. Others needed to explain or use more than one word. I personally love all the responses. One response was ugly. When I hear someone feels as though their body is ugly, I am disappointed in this world because a community has failed them. There is no way from keeping people down and low. It is impossible for every single sole to have good self-esteem. Nevertheless, there is so much that builds up an ideal person. Let’s call that ideal person Barbie. Barbie does exist. Barbie is in every person. Barbie is tall, short, skinny, fat, somewhere in-between. You are who you are and to me that makes you a barbie. We need to break the stereotype of a perfect person because it doesn’t exist. The only thing perfect about this world is how perfect our imperfects are. 

I was surprised from some answers.  One answer in particular was “unique.” The word unique didn’t surprise me; it was the reasoning that did. The reasoning stemmed from this person’s curiosity in human nudity. I have never been curious in human nudity. Frankly, it can be an uncomfortable topic, yet this person is gaining comfort from it. I am an art major and good art can be from rawness, nudity, organic, and meaningful. So, in comparison, if artists can be accepted and use nudity for a craft why can’t people be accepted if they find help from nudism. Why is it socially acceptable to reason using your career and not your happiness? Shouldn’t your mental health be a top priority in your life? Of course, I don’t mean people should be able to walk streets naked and go to classes with nothing on. I mean that if people who are curious in nudity find the right setting, they shouldn’t feel ashamed. I do not find myself currently curious in nudity, but society shouldn’t reframe me if I was curious. 

Asking people to be open enough to answer these questions makes me feel obligated to answer too. It is hard to think of one word to describe my body. Reading the list below I have the urge to use all words to describe my body. I want to use other people’s words but have my own reasoning. However, I want to narrow myself down and find my own word for my own body. The word I would use to describe my body is evolving. My body is different every day. I get new pimples, loose hair, change my clothes, nail polish, stance, weight.  From today to tomorrow, from year to year, my body will never be the same as it was yesterday. My confidence and happiness with my body will always fluctuate. At the end of the day I know my body shape is perfectly imperfect. It’s okay to look different. Complement someone. Help make someone feel good just with one sentence, one smile, and one second.   

My results are below:

What does body positivity mean to you?

  • Accepting your body for what it is and loving it
  • Encouraging every person, no matter their look or shape to feel good.
  • Something that changed my mind completely. They still have this idea among family members and relatives that you should look certain way in order to achieve something or find someone. It was such bullshit as it turns out. Now I am focusing to clear that understanding completely out of my mind and never project it on anyone or judge anyone. And I will sure raise my daughter to be happy the way she is. 

  • Viewing and treating our bodies as wonderful machines that keep us able and alive, thus nurturing a healthy grateful relationship with your body by which you feel comfortable in this skin made just for you. Minimizing toxic vanity (which is unfortunately inevitable) and self-hatred. 

  • Learning to love and accept yourself unapologetically. I know this is easier said than done, especially when faced with the constant toxic beauty and body image from the media. I think It means to not just accept other bodies, but to celebrate the diversity of the many shapes and sizes we come in and eliminate unnatural standards of beauty.

  • Understanding that no matter what stage in life I’m in, I am beautiful. That I can be confident and proud to be in my amazing curvalicious skin no matter what people say. It’s knowing that there are seasons of life and the body changes with it and have an optimistic outlook on it.

  • Someone’s body is healthy, physically and mentally.

  • Being able to love yourself and do things for your body out of a place of love and not a place of hate. (In example, exercise and nutrition). 

  • Being comfortable in your own skin and body no matter how society say you should look

  • Being kind to your body

  • Is feeling comfortable with what you look like and that you make decisions that have a positive impact on your body.  You are comfortable in your clothing and the outfits you wear

  • It means viewing your body as strong capable, and proof of surviving lived experience 

  • Being comfortable in your own skin, comfortable enough to wear what you want and feel confident 

  • Being comfortable with my body and seeing others being comfortable with their bodies. I would describe my body as chubby and something I need to work on. I don’t want to change my body for other people but for myself. To change myself to a healthier me

  • Having a strong and respectful relationship with yourself. A big part of that is being able to differentiate between what you see in the media (blond, tall, skinny models) and what you see in the mirror. I think we all go through phases where we’re uncomfortable and feel as though we need to conform to a certain look and that’s why it’s important to see celebrities supporting all body shapes and brands taking on diverse models.  

  • Feeling comfortable and confident in yourself both inside and out, having self-worth, not putting yourself down for what you or others perceive as a flaw and just accepting who you are as a human being cause no one’s perfect. Being happy by being you. 

  • Being comfortable in my own skin and not comparing myself to others because we’re all beautifully made in our own ways!

  • Loving yourself no matter what you look like.

  • Keep a smile

  • Being happy/satisfied with your body

  • Being comfortable in the body you have. Not caring what others say and wearing whatever you really want as long as it’s appropriate for whatever you’re doing. Obviously, not wearing a crop top to an interview. 

What is one word you would use to describe your body?

  • exhausted

  • Soft

  • I think I’d use “unique” because everyone’s body is different and that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t know how much information you want, but I’ve been gradually exploring and opening up to nudism/naturalism and I’ve found some great online communities. I’ve never been too uncomfortable with my body, but I’d say that it’s really helped me become even more comfortable and has given me a different outlook on human nudity and the beauty and uniqueness of the human body.

  • curvy

  • long

  • Gibberish

  • Frustrating

  • Pregnancy and labor did so much visual “damage” to my body that I got into post partum depression at first. But now I see it as a heroic act. It’s not easy to bring a human being into this world, so if that makes my body all stretched, torn and definitely out of “model like proportions then I am proud! And I would call it beautiful!

  • my wonderful server

  • human

  • Adaptable

  • Reliable

  • I have some flub loving curves and shows I’ve been through 22 short years of fun, and that life has just begun. Strong, happy, and ready for more. 

  • Inner confidence 

  • Mine

  • Older

  • A canvas (because tattoos and I can do whatever I want with it)

  • Muscular 

  • I would describe my body as chubby and something I need to work on. I don’t want to change my body for other people but for myself. To change myself to a healthier me

  • Blooming. For many years I was always uncomfortable about parts of my body not being enough but I’m finally working towards a place where I am accepting and confident about how I look. 

  • Capable 

  • Persistent

  • Resilient

  • Ugly

Jeri Fries

Kutztown '20

Jeri Fries is an Art Education in Alternative Settings Major at Kutztown University. She love dogs, yarn, Gilmore Girls, sarcasm, her family and so many other things in this world! She has always loved to write and is very thankful for this opportunity to share her words.
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