We hear things like body positivity and inclusivity everywhere these days so it makes sense that some of us are left wondering, "what's body positivity and how do I get some?"
Simply put, body positive is defined as the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance. Ok great, that clears that up, but how exactly do we get it? That part my loves, is a bit more difficult.
When it comes to body positivity there are some common misconceptions. People often believe that body positivity is only for curve sized woman, and that women who appear to be at a traditional weight don't have body positivity issues. I can tell you first hand as a swimwear designer and working with woman of all shapes and sizes that couldn't be further from the truth.
A voluptuous woman with curves for days can be completely comfortable in her skin and very lean woman can have body positivity issues. Size has nothing, not one thing, to do with how you feel about being in your skin.
Instead, it has more to do with what each person has been through in their lives and how those experiences contribute to how they personally feel about their body. It also has nothing to do with how the world views them, it's solely about how the person views themself and how that self view makes them feel.
What Causes Poor Body Positivity
Before we get into how to improve our body positivity or self image, it's worth getting into how so many of us got a poor body image in the first place. In my Living Beautifully Challenge, on day 8 of the challenge I ask each person to do a deep dive by addressing where your insecurities with your self started. That's so hard, and not fun to do. But I truly believe that until we address how our body positivity/self image got to where it is today, we run the risk of continuing to manifest the problem.
For some of us the answer to the problem may be a family member saying something negative about us when we were children or young teenager. For some, it may stem from repeated lifelong images in the media that don't look like us. The list of reasons why our collective body positivity is the way it is will vary from person to person. That's ok. What's important is that we each address it, resolve it, and make peace with it (in our own time), so that it doesn't continue to have power over us.
How To Improve Your Body Positivity
Now that we've started to work on how we got our low self esteem, what can we actually do to improve it? Fortunately for us that work is somewhat easier than addressing how we got here. Going back to day 8 of the Live Beautifully Challenge, what I recommend is:
"While in that quiet place, I’d like for you to think about where your insecurities started. What was said or done to you to make you feel negatively about your self image? Did you gain weight after a pregnancy? Do you have stretch marks from a woman’s developing body? Did someone point out something you rather not have them notice in a rude way? Whatever that is, confront it. Sit with it.
Now, understand that that opinion of someone else doesn’t define you. It’s their opinion of you; most likely said to you because of an insecurity that they're battling.
The next thing that I’d like you to work on is forgiving them. Until you forgive them you can’t properly heal from how they hurt you. Understand that forgiving them is for you, not them. It’s so YOU can move on. So that you don’t have to shoulder the burden of the energy that comes from how they made you feel. That’s their issue, not yours. You’re just the victim of their issue.
Forgiving them doesn’t have to be a “moment” that you verbally express to them. You don’t ever have to speak to them again if that’s what you choose. You just need to forgive them in your heart, so you can move on with your life and see yourself as you truly are.
Once you truly forgive them, then you can begin the work to love that part of you that they felt was less then, that part of you that harbors your insecurity. When you're ready, understand that no part of you is less then. Who made them the authority of beauty? Why is what they think important? Their opinion of your body and your beauty doesn't define who you are. YOU define who you are. What are you going to tell the world by the way you carry yourself and the things you say about yourself? Tell the world "I'm Beautiful!" Own it.
This may take time to do completely. This will take honesty on your part. This will take bravery, because it’s not easy to do. But I promise it’s worth it. Your more confident self, is on the other side of this pain they’ve caused you. You owe it to yourself to get over that hurdle. "
How We Treat Each Other
It's important to call out that things like, "you're skinny, you wouldn't understand", or "you have the most beautiful curves, please you have no idea how I feel". While none of us can ever truly understand how someone feels about a situation, it's important to not invalidate another persons feelings because of how you think they move through the world, or you believe that you know how they feel. We all have our demons that we're battling and your words could do more harm than you know.
Instead, just listen to what your friend/family member/other woman shares with you and treat her the way you would want to be treated, especially when it comes to topics surrounding body image and her self esteem. Just because she may have what you think you want, doesn't mean she's not battling issues with handling it.
How do you feel about your body positivity? What are some ways that you work on improving it? Tell us in the comments below. Let's help each other!