“I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.”
We are all social beings, a part of the society as it is today. We, therefore, need no introduction to the subsequently prevailing ideas. Society starts imparting these notions early in life and they often remain with us throughout our lives. The notions of an ideal body are one of them. Such notions are flawed to their very core. Nevertheless, this realization often goes unnoticed. The concept of body positivity was introduced to counter these body-related notions.
The Beginning of the Body Positivity Movement
In the ‘fat acceptance’ movement of the late 1960s, body positivity finds its roots. The word “body-positive” originated in 1996. It focuses on ending the culture of fat-shaming and discrimination against people. Since then, many organizations are working to change how people talk about weight. For instance, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is one such organization. The website, https://thebodypositive.org/ is a platform created to help individuals feel good about their bodies. It encourages concentrating on healthy weight loss. It suggests avoiding unhealthy diets, and exercise efforts. The body positivity movement also began to emerge around 2012. It focused on challenging unrealistic standards of beauty. The movement gained popularity, with its focus being: “all bodies are beautiful.” The aim of the movement is addressing how body image affects a person’s mental health and well-being.
Why do we need this movement?
Having a healthy body image plays a huge role in how people see themselves. People often associate their weight with their self-worth. Body image refers to a person’s perception of their body. This perception may differ from their actual appearance. Body image-related feelings, thoughts, and behaviors often affect one’s mental health. They also affect how one treats oneself. Research associates a negative body-image with an increased risk of serious mental conditions. In fact, a study found that even minor exposure to the portrayal of an “ideal physique” can affect a person. It can lead to increased concerns about body image and symptoms of eating disorders. Body image formation begins early in life. Even young children may, unfortunately, suffer from body dissatisfaction. Moreover, results show that by the age of seven, 25 percent of children exhibit some type of dietary behavior. This is disturbing to its core.
Hence, body positivity strives to address these issues. It helps people recognize the factors contributing to poor body image. The hope is that they can feel confident and accept their own bodies. This can then help combat the mental and physical health toll that poor body image has. Bodies change and so do the notions of beauty. Still, mental health demands attention and care. Our minds and our body are what will walk with us to the finish line. We need to normalize a person being comfortable in their own skin. Irrespective of whether they align with what society considers ‘ideal’. After all, how much soul does one have to bare for people to see beyond the flesh?