Body Positive — Are You In?
Why being a part of the BoPo movement could change your life
These days having a body is hard. Standards to feel like our bodies somehow fit into the acceptable spectrum seem impossibly high. Social media bludgeons us with fit, scantily-clad bods and inspiration stories of weight-loss success. Catalogs and advertisements somehow sexualize a cheeseburger (think Hardees) and show off just one human form — the long-legged ectomorph — to sell clothes, undergarments and anything else found in a mall. Magazines are filled with messages that on page 12 encourage us to, "love yourself, no matter your shape or size." Then, pages later, we read about "how to lose 10 pounds in 10 days," followed up with, a few thumb turns later, "a decadent nine-layer cake recipe you can’t miss."
It’s no surprise that body images issues are at all-time highs while disordered eating and eating disorders run rampant in our teenage girls. The possibility of a healthy relationship with food and our bodies is in danger of being all but disintegrated. The mixed messages are of no help. But, our bodies are more than eye-candy to some, sexual chess pieces to others and places of self-flagellation or self-congratulation. Enter the Body Positive movement. BoPo for short.
No Body is Exempt
In the face of these lofty standards comes a much-needed reality check about our bodies. Since when, anyway, did we start attaching such moral imperatives to our bodies? We ought get no credit for winning the genetic lottery, and no shame for being unlucky if we did. We had no play in what hand we were dealt. The BoPo movement heralds the random uniqueness in each of us and epitomizes tolerance and diversity. No body is exempt. We need not “earn” food by making qualifying statements such as, “Oh, I’m so hungry! I’ve hardly eaten all day,” or “I can enjoy that cookie since I worked out today,” somehow rationalizing what is a basic human need. We need not hide body parts or wish sections of our body away. We need not compare and despair.
Own What You Have
The BoPo movement is a golden ticket to posting bikini pictures while — brace yourself — sitting down! It’s a free pass to not have abs and to remember (and delight in) the fact that those “last 5 pounds” are the result of living your life. They are drinks with your friends, treats with your children, fingers dipped in batter while making food with love for your family. Is that what we want to give up? Is that what we are punishing ourselves for?
BoPo lets you own what you have. You ought be joyful about this body that has been with you all your life. It’s gotten you through every event — good and bad. You and your body have lived it together. It’s allowed you to be intimate, to be athletic, to bring life into this world, to shield you from harsh elements, or to just get safely and healthfully from one spot to the next, nourishing you and your needs all the while. We have quickly forgotten all the wonderful things our bodies do for us and have just as fast-judged them for all the things they aren’t.
Our kids, in their most impressionable years, are bombarded with these “ideal” images of bodies and lives. Perfection may be possible in our minds — and it appears possible in social media with the help of touch up apps. Even the most inconspicuous of comments can reinforce this impossible standard. Being open to talking to our kids about bodies in a positive way is only a fraction of the work we face in our image-conscious culture.
Thanks to BoPo, social media is also filled with wonderful personalities who offer fresh, bright thoughts and responses to the barrage of toxicity. Catalogs and stores are embracing all types of bodies to show off their products. Even advertisements are openly pushing untouched and natural looks, and the social response is so encouraging. The Body Positive movement marks a moment in our lives that is no longer a moving target and one that gives hope to future generations — that they can live in their bodies with peace and joy about the gift of life.
Katherine Koslowsky is a freelance writer and North Carolina native. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, their two dogs and a cat. Read more of her posts at wordsforbreakfast.com and follow her on Instagram @wordsforbreakfast.