Seeing Body Positivity from Various Angles to Take Care of Yourself
There is a common movement that is encouraging more body positivity in our society. I’m all for this. I want people to be able to appreciate their bodies for what they are. They are different sizes, colors, and different looks. We’re different ages! Genitals differ among people as well, and sex education continues to work to help people see this.
However, the push for body positivity is coming at a cost. Social media is often the culprit. There are tons of celebrities and professionals who are talking about the importance of being body positive. This isn’t necessarily bad. At the same time, it’s more complicated than this. We live in a culture that has a long history of blatantly and subtly trying to tell us how we should look. That doesn’t just go away because people are talking about the importance of being body positive.
We often get mixed messages. We’ll have someone tell us about body positivity, and then seconds later come face-to-face with some advertisement for a product that can help us look differently.
Unfortunately, when people talk to us like we should just now be able to look in the mirror and love ourselves, the opposite often happens. I have clients who will regularly say to me, “I know I should just love my body.” In other words, they’re seeing themselves as defective for not being able to do that. The truth is that they’re in a culture that doesn’t really let us do that without a struggle.
Of course there are going to be some people who just don’t worry about their appearance at all. I think that they are in the minority. It’s tough to live so freely about your appearance.
So there’s multiple things that we have to keep in mind when we’re trying to respect our body’s.
1. We have to accept that our culture makes it almost impossible to do this completely. That sucks I know. But if we acknowledge this, we’re in it together. We’re not divided between those who accept themselves and those who don’t. We’re all just imperfectly trying to deepen our appreciation for ourselves each day.
2. We need to settle into seeing images that we’re not used to seeing. This can be uncomfortable for some of us and that’s OK. The way we currently see people, especially in the media, is who we should objectify. I know that the human side of us is going to naturally be attracted to certain people. However, we need to see people who might not stimulate that part of us as well. Then we can work on appreciating those people, which can help us appreciate ourselves too.
3. We have to accept that real change rarely happens from people telling us to change. I’m all for people in pop culture speaking openly about body positivity. However, we truthfully change by accepting insecurities, comparison, and fear. We we acknowledge that we have these feelings, they don’t go away. But they don’t go away by trying to believe the opposite either. In fact, when people tell themselves they should think differently than they do, the insecurities, fear, and comparison often intensify. On the other hand, when we acknowledge that it’s normal to have those feelings, we can seek out support. We can address the pain that comes with this. And then the feelings often lessen in their intensity.
4. Don’t overindulge in insecurities, fear, and comparison. Everything comes with balance. Even though it’s normal to feel these feelings, it’s also possible to overindulge in them. People can use them to abuse themselves and shame themselves. How can you tell the difference? If you identify and share the painful feelings with this, you’re more likely just owning how you feel. If you don’t share the pain that comes with this and you’re just complaining and criticizing yourself, you’re likely overindulging. If you’re doing that, it’s OK. You can simply practice changing gears. That takes time and practice, but the first step is identifying what is happening.