We hear the term body positivity a lot now. And I’m glad, it’s really a good thing. But quite often it’s not used in the right way.
A few years back, that was me. I didn’t know that Body Positivity was actually a social movement. It originated from the fat acceptance movement in the 1960s and it was created by and for people in marginalized bodies, particularly fat, Black, queer, and disabled bodies.
Body positivity believes all bodies are good bodies; all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and disabilities. It’s about freeing all bodies from body shaming and diet culture. Body positivity strives to defeat the discrimination of marginalized bodies and encourages people to love their bodies just as they are and not try to change their body.
Body Positivity is about people not being mistreated because of their weight, and not feeling pressured to change their bodies to fit some model ideal of “thinness,” aka diet culture, (diet culture is another post I’ll have to write about later.)
That being explained, if you’ve been using the the term in a different way, or thinking it meant something else, here are some other terms that might actually be a better fit for what you may be thinking or feeling.
A. Body Acceptance & Positive Body Image:
Accepting your body as it is, even if you don’t love it all the time. It’s about shifting your focus from how your body looks to what your body can do, treating your body with respect, kindness understanding, and care, despite your insecurities. It means it’s okay to accept your body now while still wanting to make changes.
B. Health at Every Size:
HAES Supports people in developing healthy lifestyle habits, regardless of their size. It reinforces that health does not come in just one size. HAES is a lifestyle that encourages healthy eating and enjoyable physical activity as a way to feel better and live longer. Unlike other programs, it does not believe weight loss through dieting is the way to become healthy. If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out the book: Health at Every Size by Linda (Lindo) Bacon.
C. Body Neutrality:
The idea behind the term body neutrality is to help people steer away from feeling self-hate for their body without the pressure of having to love their body. Body Neutrality is about working towards a place where we respect our bodies, but don’t give too much energy to positive or negative thoughts about it. This is actually a good place to start if you have lots of negative thoughts and feelings about your body.
D. Body Respect
This is another place to start if you hate your body or have a hard time accepting it. Body Respect is the belief that you don’t have to love everything about your body and that it’s unrealistic to think we will love every single thing about our bodies. But regardless of how your body looks, it’s worthy of respect and being taken care of. Body respect says to focus on appreciating the things that your body can do for you and to compliment yourself with things that have nothing to do with the way your body looks.
I know that’s a lot of info, but I hope it makes sense and makes us all think before using the Body Positivity Hashtag. It’s not an umbrella term. It shouldn’t be used to promote weight loss or diets, it’s not for fit inspo, and it’s not for thin, socially acceptable bodies. .
Where do you think you are on this journey with your body? What describes you best or are you working on: A,B,C or D? Or are you in a different place?
PS. I’m not an expert on this subject, but as I’m sharing as I’m learning.
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