In these glossy, well-groomed days of social media shares and follower counts, it’s understandable if you’re not sure, exactly, what “body positivity,” or “body acceptance” as we often refer to it, really looks like. Or sounds like. Or, even more importantly, feels like.
As with everything on Instagram, the body positivity movement wears a veneer of fabricated perfection when shared on social. But let’s be real, here: it doesn’t always look like a well-lit photo on a placid beach, paired with thoughtful words. For some, it never looks like that.
This doesn’t make it any less potent or powerful. And in fact, when we see examples of real, honest, messy, vulnerable moments of body acceptance, that’s when we find it most inspiring and educational. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by body positivity, here are four important reminders to help you embrace the movement. Share your revelations and truths with us on using #theeverybodyisbeautifulproject
You don’t have to love your body. For real. We’re serious. It’s not a requirement you adore the skin you’re in every day (or even most days). If finding love for your physical body feels impossible, release yourself from the requirement. What if you worked toward a feeling of neutrality toward your body? Can you acknowledge the things it does well, without even considering what it looks like? Can you respect it enough to meet its needs?
Body acceptance isn’t just about you. We get it: It’s hard enough finding respect for our own bodies. But to truly take part in this movement, you must accept and honor ALL bodies. This isn’t an easy task, and it’s not supposed to be — we’ve been subtly trained by society to fear, oppress, and even hate some bodies. It is the responsibility of all to consider and question the ways in which we’ve been conditioned. It is also our responsibility to find compassion for and seek the beauty in all bodies. Every. Single. One.
It requires a dialogue between you and your body. A big part of body acceptance is learning how to listen to what your body is telling you. Instead of constantly feeling at war with your physical form, try quieting down so you can hear what it’s telling you. Is it craving movement? What sort of movement? Does it want rest? Is it asking for food? What type? How much? Does it want to be touched? Left alone? The relationship you have with your body is just as important as the relationships you have with other people — and it requires just as much dedication.
Body positivity is dynamic, not static. Our bodies are changing all the time. We’re talking countless changes on a cellular level, happening right this second. As we heal, recover, grow, age, and experience all life has to offer, our bodies will continually change and adapt to suit our needs. (Pretty cool, no?) Body acceptance becomes harder when we hold onto the expectation that our bodies stay the same throughout our lives. It is inevitable: They WILL change. This is normal, natural, okay, and hell — it’s beautiful, too. Will your mindset evolve as your physical self does?
If you struggle with body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, or an eating disorder, know that you are not alone. Check out our cause, Ophelia’s Place, for resources, support, and healing help.