Body positivity is a social movement that encourages men and women to embrace their body and be happy in their own skin regardless of their appearance. It was also started to help society be more understanding and accepting of larger frames. Body positivity brings a helpful perspective because no one should hate themselves or be picked on for their appearance. However, it also raises complications for people who are trying to lose weight and be body positive. Can the two coexist? Can you try to lose weight and be happy with yourself?
Although no one should be ridiculed for their size, we also know that obesity has several serious physical and mental health implications. Unfortunately, it’s also rising at an alarming rate. More than a third of American adults are currently overweight. Although body positivity has brought about positive change by helping us be more loving of everyone around us, it shouldn’t make us not want to change if we are putting our health at risk.
It may be difficult, but it is possible to achieve balance between body positivity and weight loss without losing your self-esteem. The key between all these factors is to lose weight by making yourself a better person internally. You must focus on losing weight for the right reasons, whatever that might mean for you. It must be something you do for yourself.
- Body Shaming
- What is Body Positivity?
- Body Positivity Vs. a Positive Body Image
- Healthy Choice
- Bottom Line
To understand what brought about the body positivity movement, we must first understand body shaming. Body shaming, also known as fat shaming, weight shaming, or thin shaming, comprises all the criticisms of people that do not meet societal standards. It is cruel and can lead to several psychological and physical health problems.
Several studies have shown that weight-based bullying often results in depression and low self-esteem. Many become so unhappy that they develop eating disorders to try and change their bodies. These extreme habits include binge eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, and they put the victim’s health in even greater danger. Body shaming has also shown to make children not want to exercise or be active in sports, causing an even greater weight problem.
Body positivity grew out of the need to protect people who do not meet societal standards. It highlighted discrimination against overweight people and the mental and physical distress they experience as a result.
What is Body Positivity?
To protect heavier people from prejudice, the body positivity movement celebrates all body shapes to help them become more accepted by society. They want the general population to lose their obsession with the exterior and just focus on the person themselves. Just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean they aren’t still an amazing, talented person who should be confident in who they are no matter what they look like.
The most complicated, but perhaps important, aspect of body positivity is being able to support and empower whatever people want to do with their bodies. This means that body positivists can’t only support those who are heavier, but also those who decide they want to lose weight. Some people decide to lose weight because it’s best for their health, and others just feel lighter and more energetic at a lower weight. The key in any scenario, whether you decide to lose weight or not, is to love your body wherever it is at that moment.
Body Positivity Vs. a Positive Body Image
Loving your body is actually having a positive body image, not having body positivity. Body positivity is simply the political movement that challenges people’s views of health and wellness. It aims to protect overweight people from being seen as outcasts and from discrimination.
In contrast, a positive body image is very personal. It means you accept yourself and all your flaws. You’re not discontent and you don’t talk negatively to yourself about your body. Positive body image is important for self-esteem, and body positivity is important in order to respect others. It’s possible to have one belief system without the other. Both are important skills to foster.
According to psychologists, self-love has nothing to do with your outward appearance. It actually is a result of mental and psychological health. Although people that are discontent with their bodies may believe they will be happier when they lose weight, they are just using weight loss to distract themselves from a deeper internal problem. If you are unhappy with your body, it may help if you improve your relationship with food and exercise. You may begin to feel more positive about your body if you understand how your family and environment have shaped your relationship with food, for example. If you can understand how and why these social factors have impacted your life, you can change how you view your own body image and the bodies of those around you.
Self-love can also be fostered through positive affirmations, meditation, or therapy, to name a few. These techniques can build your body appreciation, which in turn creates self-love. The more confident you feel in your own skin, the better the health choices you will make for the right reasons. Make your mental health your number one priority, because after that everything else will fall into line. Always remember you are beautiful and that there is nothing wrong with your body. If you decide to lose weight, it shouldn’t be because of the expectations someone else puts on you. It should just be because you want to for yourself.
Throughout your entire weight-loss journey, always remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t attack yourself for your flaws. Instead, remember societal expectations do not determine whether or not your body is healthy. Express gratitude for who you are and what you’re working towards.
“Healthy” means something different for everyone. For some, it means choosing to lose weight. For others, it means staying the same. Regardless of what you do, here are some tips to help you make the right decision for you with self-love and body positivity.
Be Conscious of Your Thoughts
We already touched on this one a couple of times, but a healthy mind is a healthy body. When it comes down to it, your body is simply a reflection of what’s going on inside your head. Speak to yourself positively so that you know you deserve to feel as good as you possibly can. Let this internal motivation be the driving force propelling your forward.
Your physical and mental health are also very dependent on the foods you put into your body. You shouldn’t just diet for weight loss, as this can often lead to unhealthy eating habits and behaviors. Eating a balanced diet each day will set you up for better fitness and well-being down the line. Nutritious foods will give you greater mental clarity, energy, and protection against inflammation.
Find Your Exercise Fit
There are so many different forms of exercise, there’s no reason why you should settle for something that you hate. The more you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, the more consistent you’ll be with it, and the healthier you’ll feel. If you hate running, don’t do it! Find something you can look forward to doing like hiking, walking with a friend, or taking a workout class.
Kick Guilt to the Curb
If you decide you want to lose weight because you feel you’d look better in certain clothes, don’t let anyone tell you that’s a shallow reason. You don’t have to lose weight just because you have a life-threatening disease. Whatever you decide to do with your body, you should, as long as it reflects how much you love and appreciate yourself. You can even use body cleanse products in a healthy way if done in the right mindset.
Bottom Line for Body Positivity
Making responsible, healthy choices is important for your wellness, and weight loss can be one aspect of that. However, it’s very easy to get caught up in looking good on the outside, obsessing over your numbers on the body fat scale, and forgetting a healthy lifestyle is what is most important. If you want to lose weight in a body-positive way, your focus should be on improving yourself rather than on all your flaws and blemishes. For example, make sure you are getting more sleep, selecting nutritious foods, and spending enough time with your friends. This will help you be body positive and create healthy behavior patterns as you change your body.