Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Body Positivity has become a buzz worthy term, and dare I say it, performative. It has morphed into a hashtag that we commonly associate with women in bathing suits showing off their blemishes, cellulite and body rolls.These images can be extremely empowering and freeing, but sometimes (particularly when we are feeling really stuck in our negative thinking) these images can make us feel like #bodypositivity is something that feels completely overwhelming and unattainable. Or leaves us questioning, "am I doing this whole body positivity thing right?"
The popularization of body positivity can often make us believe that loving our body is an "all or nothing" experience. That having a bad body image day means that we are doing something wrong, or there is something about us that needs "fixing".
When the truth is, it is completely unrealistic to believe that everyday we are going to wake up and feeling amazing about how we look that day.
We have been sold a lot of lies about our body, and what it means to love them. Here are 3 common myths that we have been led to believe about Body Positivity.
Myth 1: You will be IN LOVE with your body at all times.
Reality: When we think about loving our bodies it is likely that you imagine lusting after your own body like a hormonal teenager, or waking up in the morning and dancing around the house in your underwear like Cameron Diaz in Charlie’s Angels. Maybe you think loving your body means posting various bikini clad shots of yourself on social media. Despite the messages you may have received from your favorite instagram influencer, diet programs, or even our favorite childhood movies.
This is not the reality.
The myth that we SHOULD love every inch of bodies at all times, is a way to guilt women into believing that there is something wrong with us. And that we must change, or work harder until we find some magic answer, or potion that will bring us life long happiness.
Being in love with your body ALL of the time is an unrealistic pressure that actually amplifies diet culture’s messaging of needing to be perfect. In this case, being perfect at loving ourselves. It reinforces that body acceptance is a state that we must achieve.
Myth 2: Body positivity or body acceptance is a state of being that we will magically arrive at.
Reality: Body acceptance work is a practice. Gaining awareness about diet culture, calling out your critical voice, and learning tools to help free yourself from hateful thoughts about your body WILL dramatically change the way you see yourself, boost your confidence and allow you to spend time focusing on your wildest dreams.
However there will be days where you just aren’t feeling yourself. The key is to begin to identify your voices of self doubt so that it becomes easier to call them out. When self doubt arrises, get curious about it. What else could be going on in your life? What could you do for yourself in this moment to comfort yourself as this feeling passes? Do not add extra shame for feeling down on your self. Body shame X feeling shame for your emotions = Just a lotta shame!
Myth 3: Your weight or body size is something that can be controlled.
Reality: Control is an illusion. In eating disorder treatment so many of my clients talk about searching for a sense of control in their lives, only to find themselves in treatment or therapy for the foreseeable future. Our weight fluctuates day to day, moment by moment. This can look like changes in your weight because of your menstrual cycle, aging, or hormone imbalances. Or you might face injury that keeps you from moving your body. The truth is that 95% of all diets fail (and yes this includes your “lifestyle changes”).
In order for us to truly succeed in the work we must let go of the belief that we have total control over our weight or size of our bodies. Our bodies will naturally land at a weight and work to keep us at that set point (give or take 5 to 10 pounds). After redistricting or dieting our bodies will fight to get back to that point.
So we can spend years at war with ourselves, OR we can begin to learn how to live with our natural set point. Learning to trust your body, while listening to its needs, and wants is essential in this work. (Of course, this work is easier said that done, but that is for another blog post.)
Lastly, there is no "right" way to practice Body Positivity. If you are posting (almost) naked photos of yourself on social media, thats rad. If you are practicing compassion at home when you look in the mirror or when getting dressed, thats rad too. Our experiences are all different, our bodies are different, and we get to acknowledge and celebrate them in whatever way we want.