WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BODY POSITIVE?
Body Positive has become a bit of a confusing topic for me lately and I thought I’d sit down to really express where my ambivalence to use this term lies. I am go to start off by saying that I completely support any movements that encourage the acceptance of everyone’s flaws and try to diminish any insecurities. I, like many other women, have struggled with self-image and esteem issues in my youth and at times even now in my adulthood. It’s almost inescapable what with the constant advertisements and media outlets exclaiming what the “right” way to look is, despite how unrealistic that venture may be. But this has all been said before. I am late discussing a topic that many more articulate people have already dissected to the bone.
What I really wanted to deliberate in this post is the somewhat confining notion of the term “body positivity”. When I think of body positivity with regards to the plethora of sources and conversations surrounding that term I think of acceptance of who you are in the moment and not being afraid to express this acceptance--flaunt it even. It also seems like many other people on the opposite side of the social spectrum think body positivity promotes ‘fat’ acceptance or ‘fat’ perpetuation, as though it is all a big conspiracy.
While I completely disagree with the latter interpretation, I can’t help but feel like there is one other aspect of body positivity that is being left out and that I believe deserves to be part of the discourse just as much. What I’m referring to is future body acceptance. It may seem redundant to have to state this, but I don’t think it has been examined quite enough for my liking. What I mean by future acceptance is the understanding that everyone is constantly changing, despite how stagnant we all may feel at times. I am not body positive. I am not positive about my body because it is always changing and it has taken me almost a decade to understand that it’s okay to acknowledge this. My body has gone through so many states of metamorphosis since I hit puberty and the idea that at the moment I would have accepted it without considering the future possibilities seems very stifling.
I am not negative about my body, either. But I am also not positive that it will be the body I once remembered in a few years time. This is a scary thought but necessary to recognize because so much weight [pun?] is put on physical appearance to the point where it’s okay to forgo forming a personality, or exploring hobbies that might be considered unfit for the persona appointed to you by other because of the way you look.
Don’t get me wrong, accepting the features you can’t change or don’t even want to change is crucial in forming a sense of self. But what about the features that change you? Your nose might not always be slender. Your hips might lose a bit of that curve as you get older. Even your taste in foods might change. All these aspects will inevitably form who we are and it is vital that we accept these possibilities just as much as we accept ourselves now. I don’t think our happiness should rest only on who we see in the mirror today, but who we might see in the next few years.
We should be positive in our uncertainty and confident in our futures.