Sometimes my bad hair day turns into a bad hair week, and other times my skin is sagging or my face is full of pimples – this is when I feel I anything but beautiful. The body positivity trend has hit a questionable point and deserves a second look.
Status Quo: Body Positivity Had Great Beginnings
There’s no doubt body positivity is cool. I have the utmost respect for those women that happily highlight their small imperfections like stretch marks or cellulite on social media. In recent years this trend has generated a change in direction away from glossy magazines with their skinny models and body shaming, and instead towards bold Instagram profiles that showcase natural, unfiltered women – including their diversity in all shapes and colors. This level of accessibility is important to empowering women that are otherwise at odds with their bodies. However, the message that “everyone should love their body as much as she can” creates a new form of behavioral pressure that is becoming more and more off-putting to me.
The Limits of Body Positivity
It pops up most often with my period: the hormone cyclone occurring internally makes me feel bloated and limp. I absolutely loathe this feeling. Clothes that I usually love to wear suddenly look awful and my body is heavy and clumsy. Add to that the physical pain of my period and I feel it is unfair to expect me to feel positive. It’s just not possible for me at first. Why can’t I accept my body? What is wrong with me? Where has my self-love gone? Have I become two different people? It feels like a system error.
Body Shaming of a Different Kind
Self-love or not – I find it delusional to love and celebrate every inch of my body. It is a bit like having a genuinely good mood versus the performative “keeping your chin up.” Although I don’t want to wallow in self-loathing, there has to be a middle ground somewhere.
Body Positivity Done Carefully – Body Acceptance
The constant evaluation of everyone and everything is a trap that I definitely fell into. As an alternative, I now practise the teachings of meditation gurus and other balanced minds: acceptance, serenity and zen. I prioritize self-acceptance over self-love and above all else, I do one thing: I stay away from social media and well-meaning advice. Furthermore, I try to take the severity out my thoughts and emotions rather than internalize everything – just by telling my ego to shut up.
Experimental Thinking: the Body is Just a Shell
Finally, I want you to consider something: the root of all evil, so to speak, is centralizing the body in general. If we were able to recognize that outward appearances are trivial and deprived them of relevance, then we would have much more time to deal with the essentials. The insight that our value is beyond external features could spark something big. We could focus instead on important topics and concepts that benefit our society as a whole. Deep inside, we all know this truth but it now comes down to us actively accepting it.