#BoPo What is Body Positivity?

#BoPo What is Body Positivity?

Thanks to social media we’re slowly changing our opinion on standards of beauty. Body positivity is everywhere across platforms like Instagram these days. And it’s helping women all shapes and sizes to accept and love themselves as they are. But what is body positivity and where does it come from?

 

What is Body Positivity?

 

body positivity

 

For most women feeling positive about their bodies can seem like an impossible task.

These days “body positive” Instagrammers are celebrating their bodies exactly as they are. It’s a refreshing change. No photoshop, no filters, and no altering. #bopo

It’s a much-needed change.

However, when you scrawl through Instagram’s body positive photos, you can’t help but notice one thing. Most of the women have a “socially acceptable”, thin body. 

Of course all women deserve a safe and supportive space where they navigate accepting their bodies. Everyone’s experience of body hate is painful to them regardless of what size they’re living in. I would never take that away or dimish someone elses experience (mine included). Especially, when it may also involve dieting, disordered eating or potentially a life threatening eating disorder.

It’s important for all of us to understand where “true body positivity” has come from.

Most of us are completely unaware that it’s a lot more than taking a selfie of a couple of small fat rolls on our stomachs and splashing it around Instagram. At it’s heart, this not what the term “body positivity” is truly about.

It’s actually a really interesting part of our feminist history.

Will the real body positivity please stand up?

 

Body positivity may seem like a modern invention, but it all started with middle-class feminists from the 1850s through to 1890s. This is deemed the pioneer of body activism of today. Known as “first-wave feminism”.

From here fat activism and size acceptance in the 20th century became the focus. Today’s body positivity has its roots in activism and feminism of the late 1960s. Known as “second-wave feminism”.

Instead of arguing that all bodies are beautiful, activists protested for the rights of one particular group of people: Fat people.

Body positive activist and mental health advocate Lexie Manion explains, “Body positivity is a movement focused on shining the spotlight onto marginalized bodies — people of colour, LGBT, disabled, fat, etc. — because they are not well represented in the media.”

Marginalised bodies, including “fat bodies, bodies of colour, queer bodies, disabled bodies and bodies that bear the battle scars of diseases”. 

In 1967 Lew Louderback’s published an essay titled, “More People Should Be Fat”.

Soon after fat acceptance then quickly merged into an organised activist movement. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) was then founded in 1969.

One of the core principles of NAAFA, and fat activism, is that many of our beliefs and the information that is spread about fatness and health, is wrong. Instead of treating fatness as a sign of poor health or lack of willpower and laziness, fat activists encourage a Health At Every Size approach.

Health At Every Size

Under this framework, it’s not the shape and weight of your body that matters. Everyone is encouraged to engage in “general wellness”, by way of a healthy lifestyle and enjoyable, balanced eating habits as measures of health, rather than weight or body mass index (BMI).

The BMI is a flawed, out dated system that only tells you if your weight is average for your height. It doesn’t take into account above-average amounts of lean muscle mass. It assumes everyone has the same percentage of lean tissue and fat tissue. Therein lies the main problem with using BMI for athletes, body builders, or even people with above average musculature.

Body positivity and self-love

For women whose bodies do fall within societies narrow ideal of what is acceptable, it’s important to simply acknowledge the difference between “body positivity” and “self-love”. Sophia Carter-Kahn, co-host of the She’s All Fat podcast says, “Body positivity to me is facing outward, and self-love is facing inward”.

Acknowledging the difference helps marginalised bodies to claim the space they’ve long been chased out of. Working on self-acceptance and self-love, and ultimately knowing your self-worth does not depend on a number.

Ultimately the end goal is to open up and make enough space for all bodies, regardless of what people look like.  But particularly the ones that have been forced to hide or sent the message that they’re not acceptable as they are.

If you’re struggling to accept and feel comfortable in your body, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here>>

kelly renee eating behaviour coach

 

 

Body Image: Becoming Mindful of Your Body from Within.

Body Image: Becoming Mindful of Your Body from Within.

How many of you experience your body on the outside, always striving to improve your physical attributes, but rarely ever truly feeling in to your body?

If this were a classroom, I bet most of you would put your hand up!

Focusing on your appearance isn’t a negative thing. Looking nice is a way for me (and many other women) to feel good about myself. I like fashion and feeling pretty. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

But it’s when outward appearances take over our lives that we can hurt our body image. When we’re all about appearances, we can forget to feel our bodies, our skin, bodily sensations and to listen to our true needs. And, in a sense, we can forget to provide for our bodies. That’s when our inside inevitably suffers.

I want to share with you an activity for looking inward and feeling your body from The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers Behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight by Michelle M. Lelwica, ThD.

According to Michelle, “learn to see and experience ourselves as walking pictures and measure our beauty and goodness based on shallow facades…The more we define and judge our worth based on appearance, the more likely we are to find ourselves doing the same to our friends, family members, co-workers, and people we don’t even know!”

She says that identifying so much with our outward appearance disconnects us from feeling our bodies on the inside. She then asks, “Why do we resist and strive to eradicate the very flesh that connects us to the larger circle of life?”

To move beyond external appearances, Michelle focuses on the importance of digging deeper and practicing peace with our bodies. She writes:

“We need to break through our fixation with how we look, embrace ourselves “as is,” and delve into the deep and powerful experience of being in a physical form. By doing so, we end the cycle of female identification with appearance, create a mature appreciation of our bodies, and learn to enjoy what a gift our body can be”.

She calls the below exercise “Becoming Mindful of Your Body from Within.” She writes that “it can help you reconnect with feelings, energy and sensations and the life inside you.”

Here’s the exercise:

* Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, and take several slow breaths.

* Focus on your internal physical experience. As Michelle writes, ask yourself:

“How does your body feel at this moment? Can you sense it from within? Do you notice any pain, discomfort or tension? Do you feel relaxed, anxious, tired, overwhelmed? Do you feel a sense of hunger or fullness?”

*Scan your body from head to toe. Begin by “bringing your attention first to the feelings inside your feet, and slowly and progressively move your consciousness up the legs, through the stomach, back to the shoulders, and finally all the way through the head.” Having a tough time focusing on each body part? Michelle suggests tightening that part for a few seconds and then rapidly releasing it.

Consider your experiences focusing on your “inner body.” Michelle writes:

“What is it like to be aware of your body from within, rather than focus your attention on the outside? Can you sense the subtle but vital energy field that pervades your entire physical form, animating every organ, cell and limb? You may experience a tingling or buzzing, or some other sensation where your awareness is concentrated”.

* Feel without judgment. Try not to get involved with any thoughts that come up, whether they’re positive or negative. If your negative thoughts get in the way, Michelle suggests: “You might imagine writing them on a leaf and floating them down the river.”

* Practice this anywhere. The first few times you try this, you might get frustrated or feel uncomfortable in your body. That’s OK. This is a skill that you can practice, says Michelle. In fact, you can practice this exercise any time, any place.

She concludes:

“With practice, this exercise will gradually shift your attention away from your external appearance, help you discern what your body really needs and enable you to live more peacefully in your own flesh.”

If this is something you need hep with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here