Embracing Body Positivity: Rising above unrealistic body and beauty standards
If you dropped everything you’re doing and looked in the mirror right now, can you honestly say you are happy with how you look? The question itself is easy. But whatever you may answer is delicate because it will contain truths that can hurt or empower you. Nonetheless, I can almost guarantee you that whatever your answer is, it has been influenced by the society to which we belong.
To support this claim, let’s look at how people perceive themselves after the emergence of social media. Studies suggest that there is a correlation between social media and body image. People, especially younger generations, tend to compare their bodies or appearance to other people on the internet, affecting how they perceive themselves. Because of this, they have formed body dissatisfaction, a desire for thin bodies, and unrealistic beauty standards. These result in eating disorders, depression, lower self-esteem, and anxiety.
Blessed are the ones who have a positive perception of their body. But unfortunately, there are multiple sources highlighting body dissatisfaction, such as movies, commercials, social media, and magazines, and worst of all, people who like to body-shame. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to deeply love and nurture the body we are blessed with. Fortunately, there are effective ways for us to combat body negativity.
Body Positivity is a movement that aims for us to accept our physiques, our so-called body flaws, and the diversity of every single one of us. Body positivity is tied with ‘self-acceptance.’ Acceptance is a commonly used word yet uncommonly applied. It certainly has something to do with our Egos wanting to present themselves according to the norms.
More than self-acceptance, body positivity recognizes your worth as an individual who is unique and beautiful in your way. That appearance dwells only on what’s visible and that the things that matter most in life cannot be seen.
The issue with body positivity is that there can be a blur between promoting body positivity and tolerating unhealthiness. The good news is that I can guide you to accept your body and practice body positivity as we draw a line between body positivity and unhealthiness. Body positivity should always be tied with healthy habits.
Embrace your body. Nobody’s perfect! Most people call it a flaw; I call it character. Anything that separates us from other people adds to our uniqueness. But how can you translate “embracing your flaws” into concrete practices? There are many ways! You can begin by finding clothing or merchandise you enjoy wearing and compliments your body. You can get a new hairstyle that accentuates your favorite features. Wear and do things that empower you. The goal here is that you must feel good about yourself. Changing and enhancing your appearance is not bad per se. The judgment lies in whether you are doing it out of love for or dislike of yourself. So, be adventurous and try what you think will make you feel fabulous! Live the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Embracing your inner and outer beauty will give you more confidence and lessens insecurity.
Do a social media cleanse. Cleanse anything toxic on social media that makes you, even remotely, feel bad about your body. — A comment, delete it; a person, block them; a post, hide it. There are many beautiful posts on social media that will uplift your body image so focus on them instead. Follow people who are going through the same process of self-acceptance and embracing their bodies. Follow inspirational accounts that bring about positive emotions in you.
Accept the things you can’t change about your body. Once you accept that there are things you can’t change, you will develop neutrality about it. You may not even care about it anymore at all. If you can change something about your body, then do it, if it rests in the foundation of self-love and empowerment. If you think that changing a part of yourself is the only way to boost your confidence, then do it if it’s a healthy choice. But remember to do it for yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You were born a magnificent human being. We are all blessed in different ways. Each of us has unique assets and attractiveness. So, don’t compare yourself to another. Comparison breeds insecurity. No one is perfect. When you find yourself comparing, stop yourself and mentally note six things you are grateful for about yourself. Instead of comparing, try getting inspiration from others instead.
The true standard of beauty is the brain. Body positivity is about self-acceptance and sculpting a sexy mind. Mental fortitude in this body-negative world is essential. A sexy mind is one that thinks highly of oneself in a way that makes you focus on the things that matter in your self-actualization. A “sexy” mind takes all distractions away and gives you clarity on what matters. With a mind that knows its desire, you are already miles away from depression, anxiety, insecurity, and other potentially harmful effects of body negativity.
Strive to be whole, not perfect. There are layers within us. We do not become who we are meant to be by being perfect; we become who we’re meant to be by recognizing all our layers to become fully realized individuals. Appearance is only one layer. Welcome the discovery and exploration of all your beautiful layers.
Take the steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Body positivity is not about promoting obesity or an ultra-thin body. It’s about choosing a healthy path. If you can’t take care of yourself, can you really be body positive? Absolutely not. So, eat well, exercise, and rest your body. Body positivity means respecting your body and prioritizing it. Ensure that you are joyfully living your best life by being healthy.
Back yourself up with positive affirmations. Say things to yourself such as “I am content in the body where my consciousness resides,” “I am enough,” “I am successful and happy,” and “I love the way I look and feel.” Tell yourself positive things about yourself. Self-support is the best kind of support. Who can tell you otherwise if you know that you are happy just the way you are?
The Misconceptions About Body Positivity
You will love everything about your body all the time. We are human; we can’t truly feel secure about ourselves all the time. But positivity is not for us to love our bodies all the time but to live with them without self-hate or projection of self-hate to others. Body positivity proves itself during a time of weakness and vulnerability by making us feel okay with the things that might not be okay.
When you’re body positive, everyone else will accept you. You can’t expect everybody to like you just because you like yourself. Not everyone is in the same place as you. So, love and be kind to yourself because there’s a healthy dose of unhealthy insecurity and jealousy in the world.
Body positivity promotes unhealthiness. Body positivity does not tell us to embrace unhealthiness. Instead, it tells us to embrace our bodies, thin or not so thin. This doesn’t mean that you embrace unhealthiness just because you love your body as it is. Instead, it means you love yourself despite your body’s shape, and you take beneficial steps to nurture it.
Your Body is Sacred
Evolution has molded our bodies. It is a culmination of millions of years of natural adaptation. It is a sacred place where our soul resides. If we accept when others say that our bodies are not beautiful, we are no better than them. If we don’t think we’re beautiful, we’re sabotaging our precious lives. Everyone needs to uplift themselves and one another.
After sharing what body positivity is, how to be body positive, and the misconceptions about it, I hope that someday very soon, when you wake up and head to the mirror, you see a person happy about how they look. I hope the person staring back at you has a smile on their face and is deeply in love and content with who they are.
About Karen Quiros:
Karen is a lifelong New Yorker living on the beautiful east end of Long Island. For over 21 years, she has been inspiring wellness seekers in her practice Balanced Wellness Consulting. Where she intuitively guides and supports clients desiring to heal themselves naturally. Karen cured herself of endometriosis & systemic lupus, and utilizes her experience and training in nursing, natural health, nutrition, positive psychology, quantum biofeedback, mindfulness, and yoga to guide her clients.
Karen spends her time between Long Island and Costa Rica, where she facilitates workshops and soul-nourishing retreats using her signature program, the Happiness Compass©. She cured herself of systemic lupus over 25 years ago and is passionate about spreading the message that lasting healing begins with self-reliance. She created the Happiness Compass©, an accessible online self-paced version of her coaching work, to fulfill her desire to reach more seekers to give them hope that they too can heal themselves. Karen knows that illness stems from a disintegration of the mind, body, and Soul. She believes that by going within and trusting the wisdom of the Soul, we awaken to healing and a life of wholeness and deep fulfillment.
To connect with Karen:
Happiness Compass© online workshop: http://www.butterflyeffectworkshops.com/
Franchina, V., & Coco, G. L. (2018). The influence of social media use on body image concerns. International Journal of Psychoanalysis and Education, 10(1), 5-14.
Jiotsa B, Naccache B, Duval M, Rocher B, Grall-Bronnec M. Social Media Use and Body Image Disorders: Association between Frequency of Comparing One’s Own Physical Appearance to That of People Being Followed on Social Media and Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 11;18(6):2880. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18062880. PMID: 33799804; PMCID: PMC8001450.