The Importance of Including Healthy Lifestyles in Body Positivity Movements

Looking back at the history of American culture, society has created unattainable beauty standards and unrealistic norms about what’s perfect and what’s not. At first, it was important to lose weight. Some decades later, the toxic culture that was born from this caused the focus to shift towards the acceptance of individuals who don't fit the standard. With this, the body positivity movement was born, and campaigns intended to promote the acceptance of all body types and shapes no matter the size.

Nowadays, body positivity movements focus on normalizing physical features that social media otherwise looks down on, such as skin color, stretch marks, cellulitis, body hair, and other natural attributes that we may have. Sometimes, however, body positivity may not always go hand in hand with well-being, so it's important to open the conversation regarding how you feel both mentally and physically. You should definitely love our bodies, but you also need to make sure you're taking care of your health at the same time.  women with different body types Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels First of all, there is no such thing as a shattered body that needs to be fixed. Your body has gone through a lot. At the end of the day, it's your home, so you should embrace it. The problem is that social media has the ability to greatly influence thinking patterns, up to the point where you might think that you feel great when you really don’t.

Most campaigns and advertisers convince you of how self-worthy and physically great you would look wearing the clothes they sell; they don’t remind you of the consequences that can arise from focusing only on how your body looks and forgetting to take care of your health. It’s not that under or overweight individuals can’t have the same publicity opportunities as others. It’s about feeling comfortable with your own body regardless of its type and shape, while simultaneously being aware of your health.

Before talking about health, let me just state four reminders for you:

  1. There is no good or bad food, food is just food: Find out what food is best for your specific type of body and how much you need to fuel it.

  2. Don’t look at the scale: Weight doesn't define you. Muscle and fat proportions are different for everybody.

  3. Treat yourself: Yes! Most of the time you should stick to a consistent and healthy meal plan, but you’re allowed to indulge your cravings when you want to.

  4. Don’t diet: Giving your body less than it needs is objectively bad. Work with your body, not against it.

body of woman with stomach rolls Photo by Monika Kozub from Unsplash Some body positivity campaigns don’t necessarily contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but obesity or food choices aren’t to be blamed, expected or even considered a "problem." 

The true problem arises when weight reaches a dangerous level, therefore causing diseases like diabetes, osteoarthritis, and difficulties in the heart or blood pressure. Being underweight doesn’t equal a healthy lifestyle, either. Sometimes, an abnormally low weight can be indicative of a restrictive eating disorder, which is life-threatening all by itself. Fat bodies can be healthier than skinny ones, as well. 

It is important to remember that weight is not necessarily an indicator of bad health. Mental illnesses, such as body dysmorphia, can also affect the way in which you treat yourself on a day-to-day basis and can sometimes lead to other types of insecurities surrounding your body image. The bottom line is that both extremely overweight or underweight bodies can be equally unhealthy. However, here lies the importance of body positivity campaigns: they can actually be used to promote a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

There are lots of hashtags on social media like Instagram that people use in their photos. Some of them are:

#Bodypositivity, #Bodyshaming, #Loveyourself, #Normalizenormalbodies, #Nothidingbehindafilter

Individuals shouldn’t feel insecure about their bodies; instead, they should love themselves while also striving for a healthy lifestyle. Body positivity movements can work as mediators to help promote and effectively communicate this message. They should help followers understand how to love themselves in a healthy way and how to simultaneously strive for it if medical conditions are presented. A body positivity-healthy lifestyle can encourage:

  • Exercising regularly  

  • Balanced eating & nutrition

  • Drinking lots of water

  • Giving your body the rest it needs

  • Visiting the doctor often

  • Talking to someone

...and of course, loving yourself! Don’t forget about turning those hashtags into #Healthybodypositivity, #Bodyshamingisharmful, #Takecareofyourself, #Takecareofyourhealth, #Nothidingjustcaring.

woman stretching her arms Photo by from Pexels Remember that it’s all about being and feeling healthy, both physically and mentally. Love your body through the process. You are worth it, amazing and beautiful!