Body Positive ... what does it mean?
Body Positivity is a phrase we are hearing more and more on social media, and it's certainly something that I am very passionate about. Perhaps because I am a mum to three girls, or maybe just because I have struggled my whole life with negative body image. Either way, it's an important topic that us as women need to talk about, and support each other on.
But what does it actually mean to be Body Positive?
Let's start at the beginning ... from a young age it's almost frowned upon to be confident and to actually like ourselves. Putting ourselves down seems to be wired into us as children and young adults. The Australian way of receiving compliments is to naturally reject them. How dare we think highly of ourselves ... that would mean we are 'up ourselves' or 'think we are better than someone else'. But in reality, thinking highly of ourselves doesn't have to be at the determent of anyone else. It can be something we teach our children to do in relation to self care and self respect.
Negative Body Image is something many women grapple with at some time in their lives, often beginning in their adolescence (or sadly, sometimes earlier). There is no doubt that Magazines and other Media channels have a huge part to play in this. Young girls in particular are affected by the constant images of girls and women who don't look like them, everywhere they turn they see images that do not reflect their reality. Body diversity is something that is being rallied for in our Media, with some amazing Australian Curve Models advocating for change. Including the gorgeous and inspiring Amelia Stubbs (@curvyamelia) and Annaliese Gann (@annaliesegann). This type of change takes time, it takes education and it takes leadership. It also demands a change in mindset, not only of those in charge of such decisions, but the mindset of us as consumers of the content.
In the meantime, and as well as ... there are things we can do to take control of our own Body Image. Firstly, it's important to set an example for those around us ... especially us Mums who have little girls looking to us for guidance. Remember that Negative Body image is something that is taught, we are not born with it. It means re-learning how we relate to our body, how we see it, how we treat it and what we think about it. It means separating our sense of self from the number on the scales, or size of our clothing. It means not looking to other women as a guide, as to how we should look or dress.
Negative Body image affects all shapes and sizes of women, those identify with being 'too big' and those who identify with being 'too small'. Body Image issues do not discriminate, the biggest mistake we can make, is to assume that 'skinny' means zero body image issues and that 'plus size' women are the opposite. Negative Body Image rarely reflects what everyone else sees, it comes from deep down inside a person, to their self esteem and the story of who they are.
So, what does it actually mean to be Body Positive, simply put, it's acceptance. It's loving and respecting your body as it is right now. It's embracing all parts of it and having the confidence to love your life to it's fullest regardless of your size or shape. It's looking in the mirror each day and speaking kindly to ourselves, appreciating our bodies for the amazing things it can do and feeling good in our own skin.
Body Positivity doesn't mean you can't have goals ... you may want to loose, or gain weight, or become fitter or stronger. Being the best version of yourself is important. Learning to love and respect your body the way it is now, will only help and prepare you to reach the goals you have for yourself.
Just like negative body image ... positive body image must be learnt. It takes time and dedication to make a change and stick to it. I wanted to share with you, three things that have made a huge difference to me and my journey to becoming more Body Positive.
1. Say goodbye to your full length mirror! You only need one mirror, probably your bathroom mirror, to do your makeup and hair. Full length mirrors play only one part ... to access whether your outfit looks good enough. My challenge to you is to skip that part of your morning routine, instead focus on how you feel in the clothes rather than how you 'think they look'. Remember that your mood will heavily affect the way you see yourself in the mirror. Simply get dressed in what makes you feel fabulous and then head out the door!
2. Do something each day to treat and respect your body in a positive way. For example, prepare a highly nourishing meal. Take a long walk. Treat yourself to a Pedicure or Manicure. Anything that reflects some self love and that will make you feel good.
3. Develop your own Body Positive Mantra. This is something that you can say to yourself everyday when you brushing your teeth. Some examples are, 'I am fabulous, just the way I am' ... 'I choose to be me' ... 'My body carried and fed three babies'. Whatever it is, make it personal to it and your story. When we hear something enough, we start to believe it, and overtime it will make a huge difference to the way you see yourself and how you engage with others.
I came across this fantastic quote a little while ago ... and I think it's a great way to finish this weeks blog.
'Our body hears everything our mind says' - Unknown.
Thanks for reading.
If you are interested to learning more about being Body Positive, you can attend one of my Body Positive Workshops at Hattie and the Wolf - www.hattieandthewolf.com.au