The Body Positive Movement is taking a strong presence in social media and pretty much everywhere. I am all for promoting a healthy relationship with one’s body, dismantling societal standards of beauty, and instilling an overall sense of love for oneself, but this movement is missing one key component: taking focus off physical appearance.
The body positive movement encourages women to rise above the beauty standards of today’s society, but I believe rising above means going beyond the body, not focusing on it to show your confidence. Excessive focus on the body, positive or not, is harmful to mental health and presents women with yet another hurdle to overcome. This focus prevents women from growing in ways that add depth and meaning to their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, it fills me with joy to see a care-free, confident woman who loves her body and wants to show the world, but how would the world be impacted if we choose to value outer appearance over accomplishments?
In the U.S. alone, at least 30 million people of all genders and varying ages suffer from an eating disorder and at least 75% of women fall prey to disordered eating. It’s clear that this illness transcends race and ethnicity. These patterns of behavior are only perpetuated when we continue to focus on the physical as a way of justifying the mental, emotional, and spiritual.
The body positive movement urges women to love the way they look, no matter what size they are. Your body, fat or thin, wrinkled or smooth, scarred or ripped, is beautiful. This is true, but why does physical appearance still hold so much weight? More than one’s intellect, creativity, fierceness, altruism… all things beyond the body?
What is empowering is learning to love your life outside of what you look like. What is empowering is creating, reading, writing, doing, and connecting. The body is nothing more than a vehicle to set your life in motion, not what determines where and how far you go.