Body Positivity or Body Acceptance?

A quick Google search will yield millions of hits in just seconds on body positivity, with mixed messages. It has become an ever broadening movement founded on the belief that everyone should just love their bodies, no matter what the size. This movement is not exclusive to the internet – its’ roots reach back into the late ’60s when certain body types were marginalized and the rights for all shapes and sizes were fought for1. The body positivity movement seems to have reached its’ peak with the invention of social media as millions of people of all shapes and sizes began using hashtags such as #bodypositive and #bopo. This movement urges people to “embrace their curves” and “flaunt what they’ve got.” But in the rush towards “loving the skin you are in”, some people may find themselves left behind wondering how they can truly love their bodies after spending years upon years hating them.

While the body positivity movement has brought to light the importance of seeing all shapes and sizes represented in media and encourages people to love their curves; it may not be for everyone. At least not right away. After spending a period of time not being happy with your body, being told you should just love it – flaws and all – does not seem realistic for some. Perhaps there is a need for a middle ground where body positivity or negativity are not the only two options (and we all know how much change.creates.change likes to point out all.the.grey. between the black and white thinking!).

It is suggested that instead of working towards body positivity, which can seem daunting at first, one works towards body neutrality2. This encompasses the acceptance of the body without the need to change it. A sort of transition phase where one strives, though still struggles, to see their body as more than a body. Where there are neither positive nor negative feelings attached to one’s appearance. These feelings will likely still occur, but will no longer be the basis of one’s evaluation of their self-worth. This middle ground is known as body acceptance.

The idea that your body offers you ever so much more than looking good in that new pair of jeans or aligning with societal ideals of beauty is the basis for body acceptance.  Body acceptance is not a switch where you go from hating your body to loving it in the time it takes for you to evaluate your appearance in the mirror. It is a process and it is also a decision. One that is not based on your appearance but rather the decision to accept your body for more than it appears to be upon a glance in the mirror. Your body, more than just your external shell which is visible to the world, allows you to do many things in your daily life and experience all of the beauty this world has to offer. If you cannot accept the way your body looks, accept what your body does for you. You have air in your lungs; you are able to breathe. You have blood pumping through your veins; you can move and run and play. Your acceptability as a person is not dependent upon your outer appearance therefore while you may not necessarily love every part of your body, you can accept it as a medium that allows you to carry all of your hopes and dreams and put them into action.

First you accept your body and then you move through your day. This will influence decisions you make throughout the day and reduce stress from the striving for feelings of worth through your appearance.  You don’t need to jump on the #bopo bandwagon and love every single part of your body right away. Accept your body not for how it appears, but for what it does for you every day.


References

  1. Alptraum, L. (2017, November 6). A Short History of ‘Body Positivity’. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from https://fusion.tv/story/582813/a-short-history-of-body-positivity/
  2. Stewart, T. M. (2004). Light on Body Image Treatment.Behavior Modification,28(6), 783-811. doi:10.1177/0145445503259862
  3. What If Body Acceptance Doesn’t Work? How About Body Neutrality? (2016, March 21). Retrieved May 25, 2018, from http://nedic.ca/blog/what-if-body-acceptance-doesnt-work-how-about-body-neutrality

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