As of late, the world of social media has been buzzing with the hype of a new movement: the Body-Positivity Movement. At it’s well-intentioned core, this movement strives to teach women of all ages, shapes, and sizes that they should love their bodies exactly the way they are. Sounds good so far, right? Unfortunately, this movement is a powerful cause of more unhealthy body criticism toward oneself and others.
The first time the Body-Positivity Movement was brought to my attention was through a rise in awareness and appreciation of plus size models embracing their bodies, even if they don’t look like the size zero runway models we are accustomed to associating with the world of fashion. This idea in itself is a beautiful thing: women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and no one should tell them otherwise. However, embracing your body type, whatever that may be, does not give anyone license to criticize others who don’t look like them. Thanks to this movement, we have women standing up against calling curvy girls fat. However, it is also breeding a generation of girls who think embracing their fuller bodies in turn gives them the right to call all thin girls anorexic. Perhaps there are fewer social media comments on pictures of curvy girls telling them to lose weight, but there are more and more negative comments on pictures of thinner girls. Telling someone that they need to eat a burger, or that they look lie they are starving themselves is just as harmful as calling someone fat. This movement is not bringing about a new attitude of loving your body; it is bringing about the attitude of loving your body to the point of considering it superior to the figures of others. There is nothing positive about that.
Another glaring issue with this movement is that it is causing young girls to neglect caring for their bodies in a normal, healthy way. It is certainly important to feel comfortable in your own skin, and as someone who continues to struggle with self-confidence I am well aware of this. However, being comfortable with the way you look should never be an excuse to neglect your body’s health. We now have girls telling themselves and others “I’m fine with the way I look, so I can eat this entire pint of ice cream. Denying myself would mean I’m not happy with my body”, and “I don’t work out because I love my body the way it is. only people who don’t like their bodies obsess over exercise”. This leaves us with a “body-positivity” movement that encourages women to neglect their bodies.
If we are going to claim to start a movement promoting body-positivity, it needs only two basic principles: First, that every woman has dignity and she is beautiful for the person she is; no one has the right to beat down or label someone else for the way they look, no matter how different, because we all have innate worth and dignity. Second, truly loving your body means keeping it healthy. That means eating foods that fuel your body in healthy amounts, and exercising regularly because it keeps your body strong and resilient. It seems simple enough. So let’s stop the shaming and excuses, and use the beautiful minds we have to employ our common sense.