Whether it’s loving your body, fighting for equal treatment, or a little bit of everything, the truth is that Body Positivity cannot be easily defined. It means a lot of different things to different people.
The part of Body Positivity that I personally fell in love with, and which I can completely relate to, is the part that encourages people to adopt a more forgiving and affirming attitude towards their bodies – with the goal of improving their overall sense of health and wellbeing.
Sounds pretty great, right?!
Unfortunately, as a society we’re so far removed from this, that it’s hard to imagine a life where everyone feels okay with the way they look. And more than just okay, actually happy. Imagine how many industries would go bust if we all accepted ourselves as we are, and focused the energy and money we put into changing the way we look on other things that matter to us.
It was this part of the movement that really resonated with me – I love the idea of helping women to feel better about themselves, to stop self-loathing, and escape the diet mentality that keeps so many of us trapped.
And it really means something to me on a personal level.
I know what it feels like to be a woman growing up unhappy with the way I looked, trapped in a never-ending cycle of unhappiness with the way I felt about my body. I think this is part of Body Positivity that will resonate with a lot of women. Women who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin, who partake in negative self-talk, and feel unhappy with the way they look. Women who are constantly starting a new diet, obsessively weighing their food, and themselves. Women who cry in dressing rooms when the jeans don’t fit, who skip supper and feel pleased with themselves when they successfully restrict calories for a day. Women who can eat a whole pack of biscuits in five minutes without even noticing after a crap day at work, or women who cheer themselves up with a whole tub of ice cream, and then feel guilty about it. Women who are constantly falling off the diet wagon, and vowing to do better when they start again on Monday. Women who are exhausted by it all, and want a way out of feeling miserable. Women who realise that something has to change. Women who know that enough is enough.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching Body Positivity, and I think it’s important to recognise that it started as a movement for some of the most marginalized people in society. I wholeheartedly support this part of the movement, and strongly believe we need more platforms for underrepresented groups who don’t see role models they can relate to in the media, and are made to feel marginalised by wider society.
It would be very easy, if you were an alien coming to Earth for the first time, to assume that all humans looked the same. Thanks to the most popular magazines, newspapers, films and tv (where the alien did its research) our extra-terrestrial friend would believe that all humans were tall, thin, and more often than not, white and flawless. The alien would believe that we were all young, unable to understand the concept of ageing, or know what a wrinkle is. The alien would be intrigued by cellulite, having not seen it in the magazines, and its eyes would widen at the variety of our body shapes and sizes, because it was led to believe we all had the same body. The alien wouldn’t understand how many races we as humans have, how many skin colours there are, or how many versions of beautiful exist.
And that is a complete outrage.
I completely recognise that I am writing this from a place of privilege. I am, after all, a slim, white, blonde woman born and living the UK. I don’t know what it feels like to have a body that society makes me feel ashamed of, and I don’t know what it feels like to have to apologise for taking up space in the world. I don’t know what it feels like to be judged by the colour of my skin, or to face prejudice because of where you are from. I hold my hands up to that, I apologise, and I promise to make sure to promote this aspect of Body Positivity in my work, because it truly is important to me
Of course, Body Positivity is for men as well as women, but I’m particularly interested in the way women feel about themselves. We all have our own story, and whilst I do not know what it feels like to be plus sized – I do know what it feels like to be miserable in your own skin and uncomfortable with your body. I know many women who don’t feel good enough, and who make themselves miserable over the number on a scale. The impossible standards of beauty set for us by the media, advertising agencies, and modern society means that even those born into privilege in terms of their physical aesthetic are still made to feel inadequate and insecure. The bar of physical perfection is held so high, that even Aphrodite herself would fail to reach it. They design it that way. The success of so many industries relies on the fact that we never feel good enough. The billion dollar beauty industry makes sure we know that every imperfection that needs fixing, whilst the billion dollar diet industry makes us believe that thin is the ideal, and fat is the worst thing you could be.
A few years ago, I had a horrendous realisation – that for the best part of eighteen years, I had been consistently dieting off and regaining the same 9 kilos. 9 kilos. 18 years, never stopping to think that there was no difference in the way I felt. I lived in the fantasy that losing weight would suddenly solve my problems – I would finally be truly happy if I was comfortable in my own skin. I never stopped to realise that the key to happiness had nothing to do with these kilos. They were an excuse I could use to put things off – if I weighed less, I would have confidence, and I’d go for it. Excuses excuses.
When I finally accepted that changing my body wouldn’t make me happy, and I adopted a Body Positive mentality, it changed my life forever. I have genuinely never felt happier, and all I want now is to help other women feel the same.
I’ve been working my little socks off on something very special that’ll allow me to do just that! The Body Positivity Project is coming soon – and it’s going to shake you to the core, and help you get that spring back in your step. Sign up to the mailing list today to be the first to know all the details and for a super early bird discount!