You are granted permission to show up as you are and feel confident in your body. To some individuals this ‘allowance’ might seem redundant and confusing; however, in a world where people are compelled to conform to unattainable standards constructed by social institutions, it needs to be heard. The social movement of Body Positivity has started to disrupt the societal notion to glorify white, thin models as the golden standard. I argue that there is still a pressure to participate in the current trends of beauty with a disregard of body diversity. Trends, which are continuously changing in order to maximize profits off consumers, and are universally oppressive.The beauty world costs individuals more than just valuable time and money, but also extreme personal sacrifices that can be life threatening in order for one to obtain the stereotypical ‘beauty standard’.
I mean, seriously, when was the last time you were comfortable in your own skin? Or more so, when was the last time you were ALLOWED to feel comfortable in your own skin? The last moment could have been during your early childhood, where it was deemed ‘cute’ to show your squishy tummy in a bathing suit as opposed to now being presumed as ‘overweight’. Or maybe it was when you had acne as a young teen and it was looked at as a ‘hormonal phase,’ whereas adult acne is not allowed to be visible and needs to be covered up. Society constantly makes individuals who are diverse from the ‘beauty standard,’ feel that their body is not adequate or ‘normal’. Rather it be from new trends or harsh criticism, there is a pressure to conform and alter one’s body from its unique and individual appearance.
Be CONFIDENT & Be YOU
If you have a moment, watch this short video called 50 People 1 Question. In summary, adults and children are asked the simple question: “If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?” Many of the adults wanted to alter an aspect of their appearance, such as having a smaller forehead, or larger eyes. However, when young children were asked the same question their responses were to have mermaid tails, wings, or teleportation abilities. Each of the two groups had a vastly different perspective of the question. Adults perceived to have a more harsh viewpoint on what they would want to ‘fix’ of their appearance, whereas a child wanted to ‘add’ to their appearance.
For many of us, as we grew older, we began to criticize our body for its uniqueness and individuality. We live in a society where being different from the standard is disapproved of, and are constantly bombarded with pressures to keep up with trends. In my lifetime, trends have shifted from a thigh gap and prominent hip bones to a slim hourglass figure. Each of these body types are completely different and typically dependent on genetics. However, the media has made both figures seem easily attainable, and if you just try hard enough you can obtain this image despite what your body type is.
Currently, there is a new fad with ‘hip dips’. I had to research what hip dips even are. Essentially, the fad surrounds the misconception of hip dips being a sign of how healthy, or unhealthy, you are. Similar to many other body image trends, hip dips are purely genetic. It is not about how much you weigh, if you are ‘healthy’ or how ‘skinny’ you are. Hip Dips are literally based on how your body is made up and cannot be altered with exercising or dieting. Unsurprisingly, the media does not allude to genetic makeup being the dominant factor and instead, pressures individuals to feel they need hip dips to be more accepted into society. This is beyond frustrating and disappointing.
People should be confident and proud of their beautiful bodies. As one of the individuals said in 50 People 1 Question, “It wouldn’t be [you] if [you] changed the way [you] looked”. You are beautiful, sexy, attractive, unique and dazzling- all in one. Celebrate being confident and being YOU. Your body has a place in this world and it should be treated with kindness, love and respect by others, however most importantly, yourself. At times, we can be our own biggest critics, when in reality, we should be our strongest supporter.
Movement Over Weight Loss
In our society, gaining weight is heavily looked down upon and is perceived to be ‘unhealthy’ as a result. As difficult as it might be for some to believe, it can actually be unhealthy to LOSE weight, yet weight loss is not given the same perspective as weight gain. For example, I cannot count how many times I read during the months of COVID-19, “It is okay if you are gaining weight.” Over and over I kept reading these words on different social media posts and it was astounding to me that as a society, we have gotten to the point, that we need to be reassured and reminded to not stress about being in a larger body. We should instead be concentrating on keeping others safe during a pandemic. Yes, it is okay to be gaining weight during a pandemic, a global wide state of emergency, because you are staying home to keep humanity safe. It is also okay to have gained weight before COVID-19 happened and long after COVID-19 ends, as it is okay to live in a larger body. Living in a larger body does not mean the person is unhealthy and living in a smaller body does not mean they are healthy. These are both false assumptions and uphold toxic standards and beliefs surrounding body image and wellness.
It is disheartening how judgemental society is to weight gain, as it inflicts a great amount of stress, stigma, and misconceptions surrounding a person’s body. A fact that is startling to some is that if everyone ate and exercised the same way, there would still be diversity among people’s bodies. The notion of a person’s weight being higher equals them to being unhealthy, needs to end. There are individuals who eat super healthy as can be and do the recommended amount of exercise and still live in a larger body. Everyone’s body has their own narrative and makeup which cannot be sealed up in these false assumptions and toxic standards that society has created.
Furthermore, with the knowledge of people having individual makeups to their body and that it should be celebrated not criticized to live in a larger body, lets begin to change the narrative of what it means to exercise. Let's remove the pressurized goal of weight loss by exercising. Instead, let the narrative of exercising to simply be moving your body to feel good and be active.
Movement can mean a lot of different things to each person. It could be simply stretching your body in the beginning of the day to get all the nightly kinks out, going out for a walk at the end of the day to clear your head, practicing yoga to strengthen your muscles, etc. Movement does not always include the gym, completing an activity for a set amount of time or performing a fixed number of repetitions. Movement is whatever YOU want it to be. Thus, let’s put our heart into moving and not into weight loss.
Revamp Your Media
REVAMP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA INTAKE.
This may not be true for everyone, however for a good majority, it can be correctly assumed that most of the individuals seen on your social media all look the same. More specifically, most of the people seen are white and live within small bodies. There should be a greater diversity throughout the media, as not all people possess a small, white body and it should not be the only body type celebrated and appreciated within (and outside) the media.
Listed below are some of the social media influencers I enjoy on Instagram. All of whom continuously promote body positivity and confidence. They are all admirable individuals and bring much needed self-love and positivity to a social media feed.
Bodies come in many different shapes, sizes and appearances.
It is OKAY to be squishy and have rolls when you bend over.
It is OKAY to have stretch marks.
It is OKAY to have cellulite on your legs.
It is OKAY to have thighs that touch.
It is OKAY to have adult acne.
It is OKAY to have a body that is not always portrayed in the media.
Next time when you look in the mirror, do not try and find something that society has taught you to dislike; however, instead find something you love. You are beautiful and deserve to know that. Most importantly though, you and your body have a place in this world and deserve to be celebrated. Once we overcome the toxic standards that have developed into a personal barrier for so many people, we can start to focus on pure acceptance towards whatever our bodies want to be and do. To fully appreciate our bodies and being grateful for any privilege they may give us. Thus, take this article and remember to show up as you are and feel confident in your body, today and every day after.