How often do you look in the mirror and smile at yourself at the way you look? If the answer is “always”, you have a positive body image. Nonetheless, people look at themselves with disdain, even horror, as reflections they see do nothing for image positivity. Thoughts that harm you, lowering self-esteem in the process, are those which promote poor body positivity. A negative body image can be damaging and affect your daily life adversely. It affects the way you carry yourself, and hence, how you portray yourself. Understanding the concept of body positivity and coping with negativity are vital to have a positive body image.

What Exactly is Body Positivity?

Body positivity has its foundation in a movement of body positivity dating back to the 1960s. In 1969, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance was formed. From here, stems the movement to promote positive body image. This organization continues to work today, to rid notions of discrimination based on body size or weight, and appearance.

The explanation of body positivity has the following considerations:

  • The assertion that all individuals have the right to have a positive body image, despite how popular culture and society perceive the ‘ideal shape’ of a person, refers to body positivity. Meaning of the word is derived from the fact that body positivity isn’t simply about challenging how society sees people, according to shape and size, but how judgements are made about people based on sexuality, race, disability and gender.

  • Body positivity has a goal to help individuals comprehend how popular media communication contributes to how people relate to their physical selves.

  • In the hope of making people understand the concept of body positivity and thereby, body acceptance, people who have such issues would gain more knowledge about their relationship with their own health, feelings about food, self-care, identity, exercise, clothing, etc. People should be able to develop a realistic view, and a healthier one.

Common Misconceptions

There are a few common misconceptions about male body positivity and female body positivity doing the rounds, and these have tended to become ‘truths’, listed below:

  • Body positivity means that you have to always love your body - A common misnomer about body positivity, what body positivity means is that you should relate to your body with a feeling of acceptance, respect and appreciation. Furthermore, it's a separate concept and shouldn’t be linked to your self-worth as a human being.

  • Body positivity is limited to comparison with the “ideal” body in popular culture - Body positivity doesn’t just apply to people who fit an “ideal image”, but to all people of all sizes, shapes, abilities, colour, sexual orientations, ages and genders.

  • You have to change to feel positive - Body positivity and learning to love yourself is, as the Whitney Houston song says, “the greatest love of all”. So, no matter what you do, dye your hair, lose weight, etc, if you don’t feel positive, it doesn’t matter. Temporary changes bring short-lived happiness, but for body positivity meaning to truly take hold, changing how you think in relation to your body helps.

What is the Psychology behind the Body Positive Movement?

The Body Positive Movement is on a crusade to change how we view ourselves to include all people. More than a passing trend, the movement's motivation comes from a real need to spread the message of physical acceptance of your body and those around you. The movement wishes to dispel the notions of an ‘ideal’ form that relates to physicality, and veers towards a non-discriminatory attitude, eliminating prejudice and judgement.

Steps to Attain a Positive Body Image

Here’s what you can do:

  • It's okay to admit to yourself that you don’t love everything about your body.

  • Tell yourself and others that worth isn’t related to your body shape, size, colour and any benchmark society throws at you.

  • Self-care should focus on doing things that make you feel good about your body presently. Eating healthy, for example, should be done so that you feel more energetic rather than to get skinny.

Perfectly Imperfect: Compassionate Strategies to Cultivate a Positive Body Image

Perfectly Imperfect is an empathetic book, to guide you in the development of a positive body image. Featuring practical researched-based ways to help you gain a positive outlook as far as your body goes, the book shows you methods of healing your body perception. By learning about telling yourself what you can offer the world to being grateful for the body you have, this book helps you adopt positive affirmations.

Mental Disorders Related to Negative Body Image Issues

You may well understand how poor body image issues can lead to degraded mental health, especially among women in our appearance-driven society. These are common mental health problems associated with low body positivity:

  • Depression

  • Anorexia Nervosa

  • Bulimia

  • Body Dysmorphia

Whom do Body Issues Affect?

Women are more susceptible than men, and develop resulting mental disorders with feelings of isolation. As certain platforms place huge emphasis on physical appearance as a benchmark of a woman’s worth, physical and mental, women are at the crux. For instance, in a global campaign for Dove Soap, up to 96% of women said they didn’t feel “beautiful”.

Changes in Media and Advertising

With the Body Positive Movement gaining momentum, media is compelled to be more inclusive, in print and mass media like movies, shows, etc. The widespread acceptance of all gender types now dispels stereotypes, for example. You see more of this in television shows than ever before.

Criticism of the Body Positivity Movement

Even though the body positive message is meant to make people attain the best body image, critics say that problems occur by sending out messages that people should do what they feel to have a sense of positivity. Due to unhealthy messages on social media, people may misconstrue the true meaning of body positivity and reach out for dangerous ways to “become positive”, such as rigorous crash dieting. Another criticism has to do with inclusion, as most communication refrains from showing people of colour, the disabled and those who have alternate gender preferences.

Final Words

While we place an emphasis on body positivity, the importance of physical health also comes into picture. No matter how best you try, you cannot deny the possibility of medical emergencies, which is why getting financial back-up like a health insurance plan becomes important.

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