Body Positivity is Not Attainable & We Need To Stop Acting Like It Is
Self love is not nirvana. We need to stop expecting so much from ourselves.
I’ve touched upon this subject in my previous blog, ‘Getting Off The Self Hype Love Train’. Self love is not a destination because the idea of self love is not something that we can feel permanently, only something we may feel fleetingly during moments of total contentment.
The wellbeing movement has brought many things to light that needed addressing, for instance; ‘the beach body ready’ campaigns and the ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ era that closed the world off from every variation of beauty possibility there is. It’s forced us to look outside of the ‘norm’ and realise that not only is it okay to be different, but celebrate it endlessly. Nothing wrong with that, so far.
The only issue is that there is a transference of body obsessiveness, and I don’t use that word lightly.
As more and more retailers and marketing teams begin to open up and advertise the body positive message, the more it becomes diluted and twisted. Needless to say the visibility of the variety of bodies that grace this good Earth in these adverts are completely necessary, not just to ‘body positivity’ but to so many other things too. It tackles deep rooted issues of sexism, race, homophobia and transphobia by shining a light on those who are less represented in society. It removes ignorance and opportunity to feign ignorance but most importantly it elevates ideas of difference being acceptable. More than acceptable, normal.
However, I feel we are falling prey to the byproduct of what ‘body positivity’ set out to do and as a result we’ve found ourselves in a body positive toxic cesspit.
We are still obsessed with diet culture, that hasn’t changed, it’s just our language that has. Instead of rib porn we want to be ‘juicy’. Instead of heroin chic, we’re aiming for ‘thick’. Listen, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have goals and aspirations when it comes to our health and fitness, but we’re still aiming for unattainable – which sets us up for failure and in turn disappointment and self loathing. There is not a universal measure for ‘tight abs’ or ‘bubble butts’, no matter how you train or change your body you will always feel as though someone has done it better than you, and therefore you feel lesser as a result.
This has been a phenomenon for as long as the human race has existed. We have a primeval need to survive and to survive we’ve needed to attract. We’ve contorted our bodies throughout history in order to do this. Something that was well documented was the ‘wasp waist’ phenomenon in the Victorian era, where corsetry and high society ruled on your social status.
We may not be stuck in the same loop of ‘get thin or die trying’, instead we have a plethora of loops to choose from. We seem to be on a rollercoaster of self hate inducing options with little or no-one telling us that actually, as you are, is just fine.
Sure, we have celebs tell us that you’re perfect the way you are, but again, this notion of perfection is entirely toxic and without a doubt harmful. Why? Because perfection is binary and unmeasurable when it comes to something as subjective as beauty. To be frank, it makes the message null and void, because who can truly believe they are perfect.
I know many of us are grateful for the body positivity movement, for showing us safer places to inhabit on the internet that offer moments of peace amidst the chaos of agile marketing and Wish’s double ended dildos.
The problem is that when we falter, when we fail at positivity we fall into the same behaviours as we would have if we were actively participating in diet culture. When we slip and begin to feel negatively it makes us so much more vulnerable to the diarrhoea inducing tea-toxes and booty bands than ever before.
We have to remember that body positivity as a destination is not a state that we can achieve on a permanent basis. It is a place we can inhabit momentarily and hopefully for long and joyful moments in time.