and less bullshit swirling around social media will help too.
Body Positivity [movement]
Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, in doing so it challenges the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies no matter the form, size, or appearance. The goal of the movement is to address the unrealistic beauty standards and to build the confidence of oneself and others. The body positivity movement addresses the unfeasible about self-acceptance, beauty, and self-esteem. The movement sets forth the notion that beauty is a construct of society, and poses that this construct should not infringe upon one’s ability to feel confidence or self-worth. The idea surrounding the body positivity movement is centered around the notion that people need to love themselves to the fullest, accepting their physical traits.
Body positivity came from a place of good intention. And for the most part, I still think that good intention is there. And I can see why the need for body positivity is needed now more than ever. When the movement started, there were statements from popular magazines that they would stop airbrushing their models to provide a false sense of body portrayal.
The problem, is that now millions of other people have access to the same body editing tools that those magazine editors had. The magazines [might] have stopped editing so extreme, but now these apps exist where you can change the size of your waist, boobs, butt, legs, face structure, give yourself abs, and the list goes on. And these apps are FREE. I was downright flabbergasted to hear about these apps, and I nearly fell to the floor when I downloaded a few myself to see how easy it is for someone, for anyone, to edit their body and PUT IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. You can’t believe anything anymore. Is that fitspo actually fit, or just good with an app?
If you follow me on Instagram [@lifeofcarlyb], then you saw my post last week in regards to these specific apps. In a matter of a few minutes I was able to magically give myself abs, or edit myself in a bikini to appear less bloated, lengthen my legs, enhance my boob size (see exibits A and B below)
So we live in a world where everything is glorified on social media, and I can see why body positivity has become such a widely used hashtag, with nearly 3 million tags on Instagram alone. Millions of people, women and men alike, are trying to spread the movement in an effort to squash the harsh beauty standards that society has created. I love it, I think it is FREAKING AWESOME. Like you go girl (or guy) you love yourself. Find that confidence, strut that strut. Let’s squash those beauty standards.
BUT something is happening in the midst of all of this, and while I don’t think it’s intentional, I still think it is something that needs to be…. re-thought about.
In an effort to make ourselves feel good, we are turning to common stereotypes to put down, bash, almost trash talk…. others. In an effort to build ourselves up, we are tearing something or someone else down.
You might be confused, but hang on for a second. You see, in this effort to post about body positivity, many times we throw in phrases against a certain body type and say things like “I may not be ______, but at least I’m _____ #bodypositivity”. You fill in the blanks, you’ve seen them before.
The idea that we have to compare ourselves against someone else is not squashing any stereotypes, it’s fueling the fire.
There’s a commonly shared meme that says “I may not be a Victoria Secret model, but I sure could pick one up and squat her”. I thought this was downright hilarious the first twenty times I saw it. The intention behind it is to be a strong woman, physically for sure, mentally maybe too. But it was until I had a friend who quite literally looks like a Victoria Secret model (okay she is a model, just not for VS), and she’s been naturally thin her whole freaking life that I saw the other side to this “I’m not this ____ but at least I’m not this_____”.
Some people are naturally skinny. Some people have the metabolism of a 3 year old kid that can’t stop bouncing off the walls, burning more energy before 6am than most adults do in a day. Some people are naturally thin, and to those that aren’t naturally thin, it isn’t something that you like to look at as a struggle. People who aren’t naturally thin, often times get disgusted that thin people can even exist naturally. So we put them down. I mean what can be so harmful in “poking fun” at someone who is skinny, I mean c’mon, they don’t have it hard. Right?
WRONG. Being thin, too thin, or thin to a point you can’t put on an ounce of muscle is an equally hard struggle for some people as it is for people trying to lose weight. You see, my friend, she’s tried to workout to put on muscle, to add some size. It doesn’t necessarily work. And I didn’t realize that by putting it out there that a VS model, or even a model body type is what some people, most people, in this movement are against, that we are demeaning others who have their very own struggle of their own. Don’t dig someone else in order to lift yourself up.
Stereotypes and this body positivity movement cannot be alive at the same time. They will constantly be pulling against each other. They will continue to pin people against each other, allowing us to keep judging one another.
I was reading a book from one of my very favorite authors last night and something in the first chapter really struck me. She was pointing out that she was not perfect in school. She was awkward and not one of the popular girls. She didn’t have a body like the cheerleaders, she didn’t look like them. And the fact that she wasn’t skinny like the cheerleaders, made her an outcast.
I get it, since decades before social media was mainstream, the image of a cheerleader has been associated with not only popular but also skinny, pretty, and entitled. The stereotype has been the same for ages.
But let’s SQUASH THAT.
Coming from a 5’10” cheerleader who was most certainly not entitled for any minute of her life, I’m here to tell you that this kind of stereotype goes against the grain of accepting all, creating body positivity, etc. Maybe I’m just lucky to had been a cheerleader in a school where yes, cheer captains and quarterbacks were also on student council and hung out with people in the band on the weekends. And I recognize fully that I did not fit the bill of what most people thought a cheerleader should look like. You want to know what I did about that? I cheered for SEVEN YEARS including college. Throughout my entire cheer career- middle school, high school, and college, I cheered along side girls who also didn’t fit the bill. Girls that were maybe considered larger than the stereotype were throwing around gymnastic skills like you wouldn’t believe! They were freaking good. So let me tell you, that we cheerleaders don’t go into tryouts with a 5 page essay on how we’re perfect, and how we will uphold standards of perfect hair, teeth, weight, etc. Do some squads exist with tiny girls? Yes, likely co-ed college teams that need tiny girls for the guys to toss up. You want to see something impressive? Look for the all girl squads and see what kind of crazy awesome things they can do, with all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
Cheerleaders have the stereotype that most people in the body positivity movement try to go against. They might post about their weight struggle, or how they are proud of where they are, and then point out that they never were a cheerleader in high school. That they never could have been a model. Never ____ stereotype, never _____.
EveryBODY is a someBODY.
It’s time to stop saying things like:
“I may not be a Victoria Secret model, but I sure could pick one up and squat her”
“I was always twice the size of the cheerleaders.”
“I may not have been a skinny popular bitch, but at least I had fun”
“You shouldn’t be allowed to wear those spandex, I can’t even get ONE LEG INTO BOTH SIDES”
“I can’t do yoga I’m not a twig bitch”
“I may not have abs, but at least I can have pizza”
“Why are you working out, you don’t need to lose weight?”
“Go eat a cheeseburger”
oh yeah or the other popular meme “When I see a fit person in the gym, I’m like ‘What are you doing here, you’ve already won, go home'”
We’ve come to a point where we are almost at a place where we can embrace self love with all that we have without putting others down, but we’re not quite there yet. Do I think that some people are too soft and get offended too easily? Absofreakinglutely. But we need to remember that every BODY is a someBODY. Maybe body positivity should be replaced simply with #selflove and that’s it. There’s no need to point out that in your effort to be your best and happiest self, that you at the same time are not ______. Stop putting other people down.
Instead of saying “I might not be _____ but at least I’m not ______”, we need to start saying “I might not be (insert goal here), yet, but I AM PROUD OF _____”
My strong heart
My kind soul
My easy going nature
My ability to get to know people for who they are
My strong arms that hold my kids
My legs that take me places
….. and so on.
And if you’ve read this far and you’re still not sure you want to take any of this seriously. I mean coming from me that is, because I am one of the skinny girls. Most of you know me as someone who has been “thin” and “in shape” and what not and have been nearly my whole life. You might think it comes easy to me (like previously mentioned scenarios) But I didn’t just magically appear this way, I worked for it. And you know what, if that wasn’t the case, why would it even MATTER?!?! It’s MY body, not yours. There’s backlash at people for being too big. And there’s disgust deriving from likely deeper emotions at people for being too thin.
Hey, how about this. Let’s associate body positivity with not only self-love but also with taking care of ourselves. We should strive to be healthy, from the inside out. And how you want that healthy to look and feel should be up to YOU.
#SELFLOVE #LOVEFORALL #EVERYBODYISASOMEBODY
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