I was recently having a conversation about body positivity that provoked the question – what is my take on the body positive movement?
Ever since I recovered from my eating disorder, I have become a fan of the body positivity movement. It was like a breath of fresh air after spending so long being a shell of a person, who had nothing but negative thoughts about body image. Once I found my own balance and self-love, I loved (& still love!) the thought of empowering and encouraging other women to love their own bodies – flaws and all. But I also have developed and evolved my own personal opinion on it.
Not only have I been through hell and back with an eating disorder battle, but I have my Bachelor’s in nutrition, so I obviously encourage an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits. I promote healthy lifestyle choices NOT to “be skinny” but to be healthy. Balance is so key in my life in many aspects but especially for my lifestyle (eating/exercise).
This is where the body positivity movement becomes a gray area in my opinion. I’m all about letting everyone have their own opinion and keeping my mouth shut on mine, but when I actually know what I’m talking about I like to call it out and speak my mind.
Body positivity SHOULD most definitely be… loving yourself regardless of your flaws, embracing those flaws, working out because you LOVE your body not because you hate it, and taking care of yourself — with a positive attitude through it all!
Body positivity should NOT be… using the body positive movement as an excuse to ignore unhealthy weight/unhealthy choices, avoiding exercise, and getting out of taking care of yourself.
NO you should not hate yourself, even if you are overweight/not where you want to be. You are, after all, fearfully and wonderfully made. But YES you should love yourself enough to make whatever changes are necessary to reach a healthy point. And NO you should not let those unhealthy behaviors steal your joy, because your weight does not define you. YES you should still strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle, because you love your body and want what’s best for it – you only get one ya know!
When you get your body to a healthy place – and I don’t just mean lose a bunch of weight because “healthy” has different meanings for every body – then all the rest will fall into place. The body positive movement is great for encouraging people to genuinely love their bodies… I hope and pray that every person can find that balance and love for themselves. But the body positive movement needs to stop making excuses for unhealthy eating and/or exercise habits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes conscious effort, and yes that effort may be impossible on some days… but if you’re aiming for health at least most of the time, chances are you’ll find it easier to love yourself than if you’re making those excuses and avoiding healthy choices.
“Healthy” might mean you need to lose 10 pounds and a small percentage of body fat in order to avoid diabetes or heart risk. Or, “healthy” might mean you need to gain 15 pounds to get your period back and maintain a healthy body fat. Whatever “healthy” means to you, chase those goals, keep your attitude positive, and most importantly love yourself through all of those changes. That is what body positivity means to me. Because I believe that if you have a positive body image, you will have that desire to maintain health through an active lifestyle and healthy food choices (and balance throughout). If your ultimate goal is to be healthy AND happy, you shouldn’t use this millennial perspective to let go of your goals. Use it to fuel your motivation to meet your goals, whatever they may be.
I went from despising every picture I saw of myself and every glance I took in the mirror, to feeling amazing in every photo I see of myself (except for the outtakes where the wind blows my hair in my face and a bug lands on me all at the same time) and pointing out my own imperfections with admiration. I went from working out excessively due to hating my body, to listening to it and exercising in a healthy way to get stronger not skinnier. I love my body now, regardless of the parts that don’t look how I want them to. I would say that is pretty body positive! I didn’t suddenly begin overeating and become completely inactive because it’s the cool thing to do now… because that wouldn’t be good for my health!
I hope this helps clarify the gray area of the body positive movement – not to ramble about my own opinion but to shed light on how it could become potentially dangerous if viewed the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a big fan of it, I just want people to understand how it can be a good thing AND how it can be a not so good thing.
And keep in mind this is simply my opinion, so if you disagree that’s totally fine! I’d love to hear more opinions on this. I hope you feel amazing today! Thanks for reading