I was having coffee with a friend the other day and the conversation turned to the struggle of body shaming (by others and ourselves) and body acceptance. We talked about the difficulty of loving our bodies in a culture where we are continually bombarded with messages from media, magazines, and movies that tell us our bodies are not acceptable unless they fit in the narrow definition of beauty.
After this conversation with my friend, the topic continued swirling around in my head as I was writing my to-do list for the following day. Among the many chores listed (which, let’s be honest, I only completed half), I wrote down the single task: “Read Body Positive Blogs.”
But wait a second. First, what is body positivity? What is the Body Positive Movement? (And why is it capitalized?)
The Body Positive Movement is essentially the following belief:
All bodies are good bodies.
The Body Positivity Movement advocates for acceptance and affirmation of all body types – fat bodies, thin bodies, cisgender bodies, queer/trans bodies, differently-abled bodies, bodies of people of color, or any other body type which may be marginalized in our society. The movement strives to bring more media exposure and awareness to a variety of body types in order to counteract mainstream media.
So….why would I add “Read Body Positive Blogs” to my to-do list? Just as we want to be conscious of the type of food or substances we put in our bodies, we have to be aware of the type of media we consume. Advertising is geared towards making us feel ‘less than’ and giving us the magic solution to feeling better. Generally the so-called answer is something like this: Spend Money! Diet! Lose weight! Build Muscle! Eat Clean! (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.)
It’s not just my opinion, studies have shown media exposure lowers self-esteem.
Consider this: The average woman is a size 14. The fashion industry standard for ‘plus size’ starts at size 14, while the average plus size model is a size 8. Now, I may not be too good at math (hence the whole therapist gig) but this just doesn’t add up to me.
For these reason – years ago – I decided to stop buying and reading magazines or publications with heavy advertisement. I made the decision to not only minimize the onslaught of advertising telling me my worth was based on my beauty and weight, but to replace it with literary sources that were counter-culture, exposing me to images and writing that advocated for body acceptance and positivity. I knew I couldn’t just avoid toxic cultural messages about beauty standards, I had to purposely and continually expose myself to media showing a diverse array of body types in a positive and affirming way.
This past weekend, I spent considerable time perusing some of my favorite body positive blogs, and exploring new ones. Whether you have never heard of body positivity or are a seasoned body positivity advocate, I hope that the sampling below is enriching and thought-provoking.
‘Cause we can all use a little body positivity, right?
1) So, I’ve Gained Weight. So What? by Jes Baker
Jes Baker (a.k.a the Militant Baker) is well known in the body positivity world for her blog, book, public speaking, and nationally acknowledged satirical ads around the beauty industry. Needless to say, her website is a gold mine. Here’s one article to start you off. (Disclaimer: Jes is known for her profanity so if that isn’t your style, her blog may not be the best place to start.)
2) What We Forget About Body Positivity by Taylor Sweet
Body positivity is about much more than plus-size women and weight. This article talks about the growing inclusivity in the body positivity movement to include men (and all gender expressions) and also discuss body characteristics that are beyond weight (i.e. acne, scars, hair).
3) How To Get A Revenge Body by Amanda Richards
This article flips the concept of weight-loss shows on its head with a little humor. Who doesn’t love some satire to encourage counter-cultural messages about worth and beauty?
4) The Five Things Body Positive Activists Want You To Know by Spooky Fat Babe
A great summary about the Body Positivity Movement. Also, as I mentioned early, it’s important to expose yourself to a variety of body types. This article includes some stunning and beautiful photography of the author – a woman who doesn’t fit ‘mainstream’ beauty standards and is confidently showcasing her body. (Disclaimer: The photos are tasteful but still may not be safe for work or suitable for children.)
5) I’m Transgender and I Need Body Positivity, Too by Sam Dylan Finch
7) Encourage Positive Body Image by Demanding Mandatory Labeling on Photoshopped Imagery by Taryn Brumfitt
Taryn is well-known for her documentary Embrace. This article highlights the dangers of photoshop in magazines and how they impact self-esteem. It’s important to be saavy about how media affects us on a conscious and subconscious level. (Update: This documentary is now on Netflix!)
8) Exercise and Self-Love – they aren’t mutually exclusive! posted by The Body Positive
Our society views exercise as a means to lose weight, ‘improve ourselves’, or as punishment. Stop! Please exercise because you love yourself (or are working towards that), not because you loathe yourself.