While this should be a common understanding at this point in time, the appearance of a person’s body does not provide any indication of their actual health.
Health goes beyond torn abs and lean calves. Health is a holistic term that encompasses the body, mind and soul of a person. Something that positive body movement doesn’t always appeal to.
Since we are exposed to a stronger representation of a large number of people through social media and globalization, ideas such as “body positivity” have to develop. You have to start somewhere, and that somewhere in terms of body positivity is more developed than previous ideals and standards for beauty – but we still have a long way to go.
Most of these beauty standards are shaped by Eurocentric ideals. This is a harmful view that idealizes European culture and history and shows how we define acceptable body standards, make European traits ideal, and “exoticize” or shame traits that are outside of those standards.
In the same way, European ideals have colonized much of the world, they also colonize our standards of beauty and what is represented and celebrated in pop culture.
European traits are not the epitome of beauty, and the racist undercurrents and practices that grew out of this idea need to be deconstructed and disintegrated in order to move forward and change what it means to be body positive.
Let’s celebrate everything
Even with body-positive campaigns and advertisements, many of these companies often miss the mark and only seem to win people over to what we like to call the “diversity clout”.
The new meaning of body positivity goes beyond depicting a curvy body in an advertising campaign. It celebrates the many differences and variations of people that are possible. So yeah, let’s hug bodies of all shapes and sizes.
Let’s decentralize away from Western standards of beauty and use BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) not only in ads and campaigns to convey the illusion of diversity, but also to normalize the celebration of non-European traits.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about partying …
- Integration of the sexes. There is no right way to have a gender. No matter how someone identifies themselves in terms of their gender, they want to express that it is beautiful.
- Hair everywhere. From the hair on our heads to the hair on our toes, we are constantly bombarded with messages about how our hair should look and feel. No matter how you wear your hair, how much or how little you have, hair is just one of the tools we use to express ourselves and relate to our bodies.
- All skills. Ableism is a form of prejudice against people with “disabilities” or skills other than what is considered “normal”. Ableism also permeates beauty standards. A holistic approach to body positivity encompasses the diverse abilities that are possible for humans.
- Pregnancy and after childbirth. News about how someone’s body should or shouldn’t look like during and after pregnancy can be detrimental if we are really to celebrate the fact that you just grew up human with your own body – not what you should look like. Bodies change after pregnancyIt’s part of life.
- Aging. As in pregnancy, aging is part of being human. These flesh suits, in which we live our lives, grow, shrink, move, transform, fold and wither over time. How nice it is to experience these changes and the growing wisdom that comes with every frown. The smile lines that indicate a life well lived. This is beauty.
All of these conversations about body positivity are nice in theory, but we also need practical tools to hug and love our bodies.
- Look for representation. As you find people who celebrate the qualities you are learning to accept, you will receive real-life examples of how you can thrive in the body you call home. With social media, this is just getting easier.
- Become that representation. This is not for everyone, but some people find it incredibly beneficial to share their journey to body positivity on social media. While no one is entitled to your story or your revelations, use them as a beacon of inspiration for your followers.
- Set limits. Are there certain people in your life or shows and media that you consume that affect your self-worth? We’re not saying to give these up, but if there are things or people in your life that become a constant source of comparison, it can help to limit them by setting healthy boundaries.
- Do what makes you feel good. What is the first thing that comes to mind when prioritizing the health of your body, mind, and spirit? Is it eating a salad and pasta? Great. Does it dance in your underwear? Brilliant. Is it sex with you or your partner? Amazing. Think about the things that make you most comfortable and most comfortable in your body.
In the new era of body positivity, we are here to celebrate all facets of the human experience and what it means to be in a body. This goes to every pimple, every coarse hair, every belly roll, every injury and every scar – everything deserves to be hugged.
Natasha (she / she) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator and sexual wellbeing advisor. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers that people carry during birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.