June 6, 2021 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Malita Zara Ali ; Edited by Adya Kumar
Beauty is subjective. So many factors come into play when defining beauty such as culture, country and time of living. But ultimately, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
However, this becomes hard to believe when faced with ever changing standards, especially for women. Today’s beauty standards for women incorporate a “Barbie” or “Bratz”, doll-like aesthetic. This is characterized by a defined jawline, big lips, thin nose, flawless skin with no stretch marks or imperfections, and an “hourglass” figure with a small waist and flat stomach and fuller breasts, hips and butt.
Keeping up with these unattainable standards has caused a massive wave of insecurity and dissatisfaction with oneself, but fortunately inspired a wonderful response: the philosophy of body positivity. Body positivity refers to the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance. More specifically, body positivity includes:
Social media has played a vital role in the rise of the body positivity movement. While many influencers or celebrities like the Kardashians have set unrealistic and idealistic beauty standards, such as Doja Cat, Lizzo, Anne Hathaway, Serena Williams and other celebrities have spoken out on body positivity and the challenges that they have encountered to inspire audiences who have been negatively impacted by the false images displayed on social media.
The beauty industry and the media has bombarded young girls and women with the western idea of beauty on a global scale. Victoria Secret, a fashion company known for their lingerie clothing and for the famous Victoria secret runway show, for example, does not cater to plus size women in order to maintain a certain image, which in hindsight is degrading and toxic. The fashion industry is so toxic that model Filipa Hamilton was fired by Ralph Lauren for being overweight for their standards. Over the years, people no longer have the patience to digest these unachievable standards.
Dove was one of the first brands to explicitly use body positivity in its messaging, and was soon joined by other brands, and media outlets and influencers, who all used the language of body positivity without truly championing the message behind the term. In doing so, they marginalized the very communities the movement was meant to uplift.
A report published by Common Sense Media found that more than 50% of girls and nearly 33% of boys between the ages of 6 and 8 felt that their ideal body weight was less than their current weight. Results also revealed that 25% of kids had tried some type of dieting behavior by the age of seven.
Weight stigma can hurt more than just feelings— negative messages about weight are bad for physical health as well. Messages on weight and body size can be hard to avoid, there are things you can do to tune out the noise and embrace your body in its current state. Here are some of the following:
1. Remember all bodies are different and you are beautiful!
Weight stigma can lead to low self-esteem and higher rates of depression. For instance, some would go through days without eating just to look like a model in a magazine, which leaves anyone feeling hopeless and not having any form of logic to carry out day to day tasks. Such practices can evolve into dangerous eating disorders, which are then hard to recover from. It’s important to remember that all bodies are different and unique and meant to look the way it looks.
2. Don’t just be focused on BMI
Most of us have used a body mass index, or BMI, metric before- maybe at school or on a chart used to determine whether you're in a "healthy" weight range. Some pro athletes, can be obese based on their BMI because of all the muscle in their body. Zooming in on BMI alone can add to weight stigma and actually make people avoid behaviors that promote good health, such as cancer screenings or other preventive health care.
3. Focus on well-being by practicing healthy behaviors, regardless of weight.
We all decide on our well-being. Making small changes such as going for walks or adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can help with making your well-being transition smooth. Making these small changes to your lifestyle and eating behaviors will lower your risk from becoming part of the NCD statics. Remember should only change for your self, not for society.
4. Learn to combat weight stigma with self-acceptance and compassion
Don't beat yourself up if you struggle with body image sometimes. If you want to change, take baby steps and make sure it’s for yourself well-being. Instead of letting the scale determine whether it's going to be a good day or not, put your scale away. Regardless of your weight and appearance, remember to practice self-compassion and treat yourself well.
The body positivity movement aims to help people understand how popular media messages contribute to the relationship you have with your body including how you feel about food, exercise, clothing, health, identity, and self-care. By better understanding the effect that such influences have, the hope is that people can develop a healthier and more realistic relationship with their bodies. No matter your body type, skin color, fashion sense or gender orientation, this movement seeks to include everybody who dares to step outside of the perfect image of skinny, muscular, tall, fair-skinned people that the media inaccurately represents.