So you’ve probably heard the term ‘body positivity’ floating around the internet a lot lately but do you really understand what it stands for? It’s more than just a hashtag people use on their photographs on Instagram, it’s a movement towards inclusivity that we need today.
It’s a known fact that the society that we live in today treats you differently if you have a different body type. We’re force-fed a certain image of the ‘ideal body’ through glossy magazine covers, through representation on the big screen and told that this is the only kind of ‘beautiful’ there is--and we must all aspire to fit into that prototype. Be more muscular, be thinner, be curvier, these are messages we’re constantly listening to and are being pushed to imbing an unattainable body size.
Body positivity, as the term itself explains, is being accepting and positive all body types out there: her, mine, theirs- they’re all equally gorgeous! It is the unlearning of the idea that only certain bodies are worth loving, accepting and praise-worthy. It’s the choice of deciding what makes you feel more confident and healthy. It’s understanding that you deserve to live in your beautiful body without being the subject of rude comments, prejudice, hate and discrimination. It aims towards a world when such bias doesn’t exist at all.
Let’s clear out some doubts about the movement before moving forward so that you have a clearer understanding of what we mean.
Now that you’ve understood the gist of what it stands for, you need to understand why body-shaming is such a big no no.
In a world reigned by media narratives, we are forced to see just how obsessed everyone is with outward beauty. While the human body gives us life, this fixation with it has led many people to believe that our bodies are our most important feature. The movement shows us that there’s so much more to us- our hearts, our minds, our intelligence and they’re all incredible!
Apparently, thanks to the pressures from those around you, some bodies are more acceptable than others. Why? Because they are conventionally fitting to the narrow standards set by society and if you don’t fit into that mould, you can be shamed and judged. The movement itself is against that. Everyone is perfect and wonderful and deserves to be loved. We also start treating it with the respect it needs, and we actually care for it the way we’re supposed to. The unloved body is often underfed, overfed, over-exercised or under-exercised but one which is given the attention is rested, fed and kept healthy.
When we spew hatred and negativity around, we attract it towards ourselves as well. But when we start seeing beauty in ourselves, we can start seeing it around us as well.
The world needs more love and acceptance, and I’m not trying to say it to sound like a Tumblr post. The body positivity movement is all about loving all shapes and sizes--this includes transgender bodies that don’t fit into the binaries of male and female. It also includes bodies with physical disabilities, because who said only able-bodies are worthy of love? So we need to generally open our arms as a community to embrace one another.
For years, we all bought into the narrative of the media. It represents society, but also shapes it in so many ways, and we took in everything that was told to us. Thanks to the movement, we’re understanding that these showcase only a certain section of our society and not in its entirety. We’re demanding better representation and stories to be focused on, and making sure that the world changes for the better.
According to society and social media, the only beauty standard everyone is supposed to follow is the European idea of fair skin, slim figure, tall, and the list goes on. But we all come from different races and it’s impossible for everyone to look the same (even if they follow the same fitness and health regime). With body positivity, we’re also accepting the different races and physiologies that make us.
Over the years, celebs have faced major criticism for how they look. In the age of social media, they are constantly reminded that they’re either too fat and shamed for being curvier than others or they’re trolled for being too skinny. It seems to be never enough. Here are five stars who have given statements against this kind of hate:
“There is such a false perception about what women should look like and what our bodies should look like. Especially when you are in the (film) business, you put on a couple of pounds and people are like..body shaming you. It happens. Christmas happens to all of us. I am an Indian. I have Holi, I have Diwali, I have hundred holidays and my body fluctuates and you know what… I am fine with it.”
"My priorities are not such that I'm mortally offended by someone thinking that. Insults about the way I look can't be the thing that harms me and my heart the most. It has to harm me the least. If I have a daughter, I'm going to tell her that. Far too many women are much more hurt by being called fat or ugly than they are by being called not smart, or not a leader. If someone told me that I was stupid or that I wasn't a leader, or that I wasn't witty or quick or perceptive, I'd be devastated. If someone told me that I had a gross body, I'd say, 'Well, it's bringing me a lot of happiness.' Like, I'm having a fine time of it. Having my priorities aligned like that has helped me have a happier life, I think."
“The rules of beauty are strict and it’s almost impossible to win. Anushka Sharma has been skinny-shamed, Sonakshi Sinha has been fat-shamed, Katrina Kaif has been fit-shamed. These are women who are and always have been staggeringly beautiful. But where there’s a broken system, there’s a solution. The problem is in mainstream culture’s rigid definitions of female beauty. The solution, for me, has been in the women I know.
“I haven’t had the greatest year. Maybe one day I’ll talk about it but for right now I’d like my privacy. I will say that this year has brought a lot of changes and with that, physical changes. I have been told that I can’t work out. Which for me is very upsetting. I am an activist for activity (and for eating junk food in bed but it’s all about balance, right?!) I love to be outdoors. I love to be STRONG. (I'll be using that word a lot.) Strength is everything. Being strong has gotten me where I am. Both mentally and physically. I am not a fan of 'being skinny.' Which many of you have told me that I am too much of. 'Eat a burger,' 'your head is bigger than your body and that's disgusting.' And you're right! I should eat a burger! 'Cause they're fucking delicious! But guess what. I do. Again, you're right. No one's head should be bigger than their body but considering I've basically been on bed rest for the past few months, I've lost a lot of muscle mass. My circumstances have put me in a place where I'm not in control of what my body looks like. So I strive to be as healthy as possible, as everyone should. Oh, and no, that's not Photoshop. Those are my legs. Those are my arms. I write this because I've been accused of promoting anorexia in, ironically enough, an anti-bullying post. And I want girls to know that that's NOT my intention. I posted a picture of my boyfriend's apparel line, in which part of the proceeds go to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, and am in return bullied. Which made me laugh but then it dawned on me that young girls are reading posts that are saying that I'm promoting anorexia due to my weight. While those comments don't affect me, they may affect others.”
“It’s absolutely shameful. Today if anybody has been targeted for being a certain way, it’s me. But I don’t let it get to me. I know what is more important is that I project a healthy body image for girls who look up to me. Tomorrow if I become skinny, what’s the point? I won’t be able to work well. I’ll fall sick all the time. I know that’s not my body structure, not my body type. I’ve worked very hard to look the way I look today. I used to weigh 95 kilos. What more do you want from me?”
Dove launched a massive campaign when their own research proving that a very small percentage of women think of themselves as beautiful. Women were shown two drawings of them: one after how they described themselves to an artist and another as others saw them. The difference shows just how much we need to love yourselves.
Special K branded itself as the nutritious alternative breakfast cereal that all women need. ‘Everything we’re made for powers everything you’re made of.’ It shows real women doing daily tasks and choosing healthier alternatives to keep them going.’
If you’ve been on the internet you’ve probably heard the term ‘beach body’--what the hell is that all about? Aren’t all bodies beach bodies?! If you scroll through Swimsuits For All’s Instagram accounts you’ll definitely feel empowered and want to throw on a bikini and head for a sunny vacay. The models they hire, bodies they show and faces that are on the forefront of the brand like Ashley Graham prove that they really walk the talk and we need that in our lives!
To get you a more real perspective on the movement, we asked women of all ages how they feel about being comfortable in their skin and here’s what they had to say:
I first fell in love with the idea of losing weight when a few girls from my school called me ‘baby elephant’. That’s when I went to the school dormitory and puked after eating lunch for the first time. For a few days I made it my routine. I just wanted to be thin and that was my only agenda in life. Later I understood that I had developed an eating disorder of sorts and it took years of therapy to unlearn all of that. I’m not saying I’m completely cured or happy, there are days when I still hate the stretch marks on my stomach, but then I scroll through some body positive pages on Instagram and feel better. It’s all a process but at least I’ve started mine.
- Samira Nair
I’ve always been confident in my skin or at least I try to be but at home my mother would always tell me how I shouldn’t wear tight clothes because my thighs and breasts are too thick. I wish there was more media representation of real bodies who can’t afford to go on expensive diets or spend five hours at the gym, it would really help people understand that all sizes are stunning!
- Rhea Chatterjee
People would call me ‘kheera’ in school because they thought that’s all I ate. I have high metabolism and I digest things super quickly, but that’s not my fault. Of course now I know better than to pay attention to these comments but the 16 year old me was so ashamed that I was underweight that I’d only wear super loose clothes to hide my body. It was exhausting.
- Aditi Sinha
So people, let’s embrace ourselves and those around us--stretch marks, side flab, double chin, small breasts--all of it!
Image Source: Giphy
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This story was updated in March 2019.