Body Positivity: Why it's time we stop talking about it and start living it.
Body Positivity is a hot topic right now. Take one look in the media on any given day and everyone seems to be talking about ‘Body Positive’ of some form. As someone who has been working in the area of Body Positive Advocacy for some time now this is SO fantastic to see, but I am not doing my victory dance just yet.
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy to see plus size athletes being featured on the covers of magazines, or seeing the diverse shapes of what a particular Body Mass Index (BMI) actually looks like on different women being showcased - all of these things are changes we have worked hard for. But there comes a time when we need to start talking about Body Positivity less and start doing it more. Each of us need to start practising Body Positivity in our daily lives because this is the only way we can make change that will sustain itself through our generation and reap massive rewards when it comes to the body satisfaction and self images of our younger generations of females.
As someone who spends a lot of time crunching the numbers around body satisfaction, females, and wellbeing, I cannot stress enough why we need to start being fearless with our own bodies. Body acceptance and confidence needs to become so ingrained in our society so that a woman embracing her body is no longer news. So then the image of a woman dressed in her swimsuit at the beach, having a ball without worrying what people think of what she looks like stops going viral with people heralding her as ‘brave' - and she will simply be ‘a woman going swimming’. We will no longer celebrate a larger runner being featured in a running magazine as ‘groundbreaking’ - she will simply be ‘another female runner’.
The funny thing is, as females in this day and age, there is so much about our lives that is assertive - our educations and pursuit for knowledge; our interaction in politics and our willingness to campaign for things we believe in; our determination to be equally represented in business and corporate environments. So much of what we do in our daily lives is powerful and fearless - so why are not being fearless with our own bodies? Why are we confident smashing glass ceilings and busting stereotypes, yet still going to the gym in big T-shirts or to the pool in long boardies for fear of judgement of parts of our bodies?
Let's look at this a little bit more relative to your experiences. You're all reading this magazine because you appreciate adventure and travel. You're either a seasoned adventurer or you're aspiring to take the plunge and go for it. Either way, you're an advocate of ‘brave’ and some level of fearlessness.
So when was the last time that you danced your heart out or really shook those hips in a Zumba or dance session? What about your last physical activity? What went through your mind when you were working your body? Were you relishing in your body's strength, or were you resenting some aspect of it? Did you spend your last boxing class worrying more about your arms wobbling when you punched than executing the perfect left hook?
Talking about being positive with our bodies and no longer fearing judgement is one thing, but doing them is a whole other deal. A journey to body appreciation is as unique to each individual as it is a gradual one, but here are some ideas that may get you started.
Start thinking of how your body serves you. When you climbed that last set of stairs, or that incline on your last ride, what muscles or body parts worked hard to get you there?
Thank your body for what it allows you to achieve on a daily basis.
Stop worrying about making parts of your body smaller and go about making your body stronger. Nurture it with good nutrition and adequate rest and recovery.
Change the language that you use with your body. Next time you head out for a run or a walk, rather than thinking about how hard you’re going to work your body, think about what adventure you can have together: ‘what heights can we reach today my friend?’
Stop training with an aim of punishing your body and start chasing dreams.
That event you have always wanted to do? Enter it. Train for it and relish in the achievement.
That trail you have dreamed of conquering? Learn it, train for it and conquer it.
Those swimmers you have always wanted to wear? Buy them. Put them on and see how the world doesn’t end.
Once your relationship with your own body improves, an amazing chain of events begins. You start fearing judgement less and less. Then once you realise that your body is actually nobody else’s business, you not only put those swimmers on, you actually go somewhere and you SWIM in them.
And you know the most amazing that happens when you call the war off on your own body? You also tend to call the war off on everyone else’s. All of a sudden we have a society where people are judging themselves and each other less, and guess what happens once the judgement is gone - the fear of it also no longer exists.