In becoming more positive about ourselves, we’ve tackled hearing nice things about ourselves and getting ourselves moving. This week, we’re going to tackle the hardest type of positivity to master for many people: Body Positivity. TRIGGER WARNING for discussion of body image, body dysmorphic disorder, and eating disorders.
I’m not going to lie: I’ve kind of been dreading writing about this topic. It just feels like it’s something so much larger than I’m able to write about. I’ll do my best, but definitely check out the links at the end of the article for further (and more intelligent) reading.
You may think that body negativity only affects you when you look in the mirror, but having a negative view of yourself is something that you carry around all the time. Having a negative view of your body or your appearance has a trickle-down effect. If you feel your shape is frumpy, you try to cover it up rather than dressing to flatter your curves. If you hate your hair, you won’t bother styling it or even drying it some mornings. The next time you look in the mirror, the person looking back confirms what you feel about yourself and so propels the negativity in a vicious circle. Even without looking at cases of diagnosed body dysmorphic disorder, some studies have shown that women in particular have a distorted view of their own bodies (which, of course, can then lead to BDD and eating disorders in severe cases). In a 2010 study, researchers found that the brains of the participants warped the size of their hands in their own mind, and researchers stated that the same warped view could be extrapolated to the rest of the body. In other words, body positivity is something we need to actively work for since our brains are naturally working against us.
So how do we do it?
- First, we have to be aware of the tricks that our mind plays on us and know that what we see in the mirror isn’t necessarily how we appear, especially to others. Consider your reflection like a rumor on Perez Hilton: take it with a massive grain of salt.
- Next, we need to listen to our bodies. Let them tell us what they need and what they’re good at.
- Finally, we embrace what is strong about our bodies and develop it. My big thighs (my own most hated body part) have big muscles in them. I work to make those muscles strong so they carry me through the day, through my yoga practice, through a 5K.
This is a hard one, but as Golda Poretsky hypothesizes in a recent article, “body acceptance [is] a major peace movement of our century.” I’m inclined to agree with her, so come be a revolutionary with us, hmm?
Like last week, I’m only touching on a small section of a very large topic, so check out the other talented Persephone Writers for more on Body Positivity:
Meghan talked about Body Positivity in The Great Orgasm Challenge recently.
Claire talks about the book “Read My Hips” for some further body positivity reading.
All of Golda’s articles are worth a read, but I especially like “You Have My Permission to Love and Accept Your Body, Just As It Is, Right This Minute“and “The Real Deal on Body Acceptance.”
This Week’s Challenge
Take at least one thing you don’t like about your body and re-frame it. Find a reason to love it. Your big feet keep you standing and give you a good foundation. Your curly or straight hair is something people covet so much, they pay salons to make their hair curlier or straighter. Just one thing. Build up to more.
This Week’s Mantra
Love Yourself. Simple and sweet. Love everything about yourself.
If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download the full-size version suitable for desktop wallpapers, printing, or framing.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.
Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!