THE TRUE MEANING OF BODY POSITIVITY

Think you know what body positivity is? Dive deeper to understand why it has less to do with appearance, and more to do with gratitude and acceptance.


BY: EMILY FONNESBECK, RD, CD, CLT

It’s easy to think that a positive body image simply means looking in the mirror and liking what you see.  This belief will only limit you, keeping you stuck in the idea that body positivity is related to appearance.  

Instead, body positivity has much more to do with how you care for, respect, and connect with your body’s needs, while cultivating gratitude for what your body can do for you or allows you to do.  It’s very likely that your body shape and size will change multiple times throughout your life.

If you attach or cling to one specific image, you’ll lack acceptance while feeling powerless and frustrated when it inevitably changes.

Life is messy.  This is a hard concept to accept for all of us, especially those inclined toward rigidity or all-or-nothing thinking.  We want straight lines, consistent patterns, and predictable outcomes.  That’s simply not real.  We are holding on to something that doesn’t exist.  All we are doing is driving ourselves crazy while missing out on life.  

Here are a few ways to rethink what you know about body positivity:

1. Control is just an illusion.

A more relaxed approach to your body may feel like you are losing control, but that’s just an illusion.  It’s easy to feel like letting go of your quest for a different body shape and size means you’re giving up. You’ll likely find the opposite is true.  You’ll gain a whole lot more, including the real you that’s been waiting to start living a full and meaningful life outside of weight or body size preoccupation.

This is especially true if you have disordered eating patterns.  You are fighting food because you are fighting your body.  If you hope to make peace with food, you’ve gotta make peace with your body.

2. Comparison is life’s biggest thief.

In the culture we live in, we aren’t naturally inclined toward body positivity.  Although we come in all different shapes and sizes (naturally and biologically!), it’s easy to compare yourself to the thin ideal (or muscular ideal these days).  It’s quite possible to live your whole life feeling broken and inferior.  

You can choose to continue chasing diets and food rules until you finally meet your dream weight or body shape.  However, you can also choose to find and embrace your true purpose for living, which has nothing to do with the way you look.  This will likely result in better self-care of your body that allows you to live to your full potential, instead of living to be in a smaller size.  Don’t ever feel like you don’t have a choice.  YOU get to decide.  

3. You are your worst critic.

While cultural influences may shape your expectations for what your body should look like, you hold the final judgment.  We tend to be our own worst critic, being harder on ourselves than we would ever be to others.  While it would be great to completely transform the unrealistic beauty standards that exist in society, a better, more effective goal will be to transform your own expectations of yourself.  

Take the time to reevaluate the expectations you have for your body, and understand how set-point theory holds true.  This means your body has a predetermined body shape, size and weight that it feels most comfortable at.  In fact, fighting against it will get you nowhere. The great paradox is that dieting, the method we use to lower our set-point, only works to increase it therefore causing weight gain in the long term.

Remember, body positivity is not based on appearance and functions independently from any changes in body shape or size.  It’s essential to cultivate your body and mind for your own well-being and happiness.

That will always remain the most important factor in health than losing weight or changing your body shape will ever be.

Adapted from the original article.

Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Saint George, Utah. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves.  Make a visit and read more from Emily.

 

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