Body positivity – reality check

Every Instagram user has probably had some dose of body positivity posts. And everyone has their opinion on them. It’s a pretty controversial topic, really. I guess it started as a countermovement to the perfect(ly photoshopped) pictures of gorgeous, skinny “beach babes” on white sandy beaches, because obviously, a big majority of us don’t really have than kind of body (and most of the models in those pictures probably don’t even have one themselves). That kind of content filling our feeds puts quite a lot of pressure on how we should be, so I think going against that is a pretty good thing to do. Instagram is for sure also a platform for inspiration and dreams, which I don’t have anything against, on the contrary, that’s a big part of what I use Instagram for, but let’s get real. A body is personal although inevitably public, we all have different morphologies, habits and cultures, and instead of inspiring me to be a better version of myself, it often depresses the 1,60cm short, curvy me to see only 1,80m tall, skinny VS models that have a naturally skinny and long figure. Of course, a lot of work goes into that body as well, but nature does favour some people that fit the ideals of our society better than others. No matter how I would eat or train, I wouldn’t get that shape with my morphology. So diversity is the key, we have to show more bodies of all shapes and sizes to not forget the real fact that we are different and equally worthy. We criticise the standards of society like I just did, but we sometimes forget that we are the society and the makers of those standards. We can reinforce the ideals and norms that we have, or we can move our butts to change them.

So that’s what happened with body positivity. People started posting more “real” pictures and comments on the topic, spreading the “you are good just the way you are” and “every body is beautiful”. Which is all true. The problem that many people see with that is a shift in the opposite extreme. Instead of promoting the fact that everyone is good as they are, we have gone the opposite way and started saying that it’s okay to be overweight, even if from a point of view of health, that’s not any more desirable than being underweight. Which is, kind of true. But there again, we hit the fact that every body is different, and what might be a healthy weight for one person might lead to health issues for another. And in some way, body positivity is also working against itself. By promoting the fact that it’s okay to be any size you are, we also put a shame of wanting to change our body. To lose weight if we actually do need to for a medical reason, or because even if we are at a healthy weight, we want to have a certain outlook. In other words, to change or even to want to change, even if change is the one and only constant in the world, even concerning our bodies. We will inevitably change in some way with time, is it wrong to want to have an impact on the direction of that change? If by “body positivity” we mean “you are as you are and there’s nothing you can do about it really so might as well learn to like it”, instead of “our body doesn’t define us”, I think we’ve gone the wrong way.

Then there is the commercial extent of body positivity, which plays a big role in forging our opinions about our bodies, probably even more than what our opinions and publications on the matter as members of the society do. I won’t go into detail on this because the topic is never ending, but Vox wrote an article about the way corporates use body positivity for their profit without actually caring at all about the way people feel about themselves for real, they simply switch the focus of what the standards are, not helping anyone feel worthy as they are but rather giving different models to compare to.

The thing is, I think we have started caring too much. Instead of normalising the fact that we are all different and stopping to make a big deal out of it, we feel the need to shout on the roofs that “everyone can be the VS angel of their lives #realitycheck #bodypositivity”, every time we post a picture where our tummy shows a bit or we don’t think will get as many likes as that other one you just posted. Making a change often requires a strong countermovement before finding balance. It’s a bit like getting over some hard patches in your life. You have to talk and talk about them until you realise you’re done talking, accept te facts and are ready to move on. We are still at that stage of talking and revolting with the body issues, but my dream is that soon we can be over it and take it as an evidence that 1. every body is different and that doesn’t make anyone less worthy, 2. our bodies change with time and that’s inevitable and doesn’t need to be discussed, and 3. nobody should really care about anybody else’s habits or body if their opinion is not specifically asked.

So I’ll just leave you now with these pictures of my posing like a model in my curvy, 1,60m body that I don’t think made this picture any less bomb because it’s not 1,80m and my BMI 18. Life starts when you stop giving a shit about your BMI. BMI and weight are only normative numbers that don’t take into account individual differences. To give you an idea, my BMI tells me I’m almost overweight, which I definitely don’t think I am. Throw those BMI calculators and scales out of the window and focus on listening to your mind and body instead of Instagram trends and useless numbers. There are so many more things to do in life than look at yourself on a picture or in a mirror and wonder if you are good enough. You can spend that time working on your goals, having fun or basically doing anything more productive. You are good enough. With the body you have, with the one you’ll have in a year or in fifty. Learn to trust that and it will change the way you look a thousand times more than dropping or gaining a few kilos. Decide to make it your goal to have a certain type of body if that’s something you want, but do it for the right reasons and keep your feet on the ground. Let’s normalize all kinds of bodies on Instagram and in real life by keeping our head high and just being our wonderful selves. That’s what body positivity is supposed to be about.

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