It’s almost Independence Day and while this holiday celebrates America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain, we here at BAWDY are pumped to celebrate the skin we’re in by freeing ourselves of body image expectations.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen a welcome cultural shift towards accepting and loving ourselves. This movement has been dubbed “body positivity” and refers to everything from an individual’s size to their gender identification - yas! But what does it all mean and how do we actually go about achieving this enlightened feeling? Read on to find out.
What Does “Body Positivity” Really Mean?
According to Psychology Today, experts consider body positivity to be body acceptance in conjunction with treating it right. However, through marketing messaging and brands tweaking this intention to match their narrative, the message seems to have gotten somewhat convoluted over the years.
Body positivity is a balancing act. It’s important to keep in mind that, while you work to love and accept yourself as you are, don’t “let yourself go.” You should also make positive choices that will nourish your overall health.
Is My Body Image Positive?
Body image can be defined as “a subjective picture of one's own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others.” Having the ability to separate your self-worth from the singular thing that is your body, is the first step in realizing you have a positive body image. Beyond that, understanding and assessing these four aspects of body image will help determine how positive your overall body image is.
- Perceptual body image, or how we see ourselves might not always match what we actually look like. A question to ask yourself: do you see yourself as a size 12 when you’re really a size 6?
- Affective body image is how we feel about our body and refers to the level of satisfaction we have with our shape, weight, and body parts. A question to ask yourself: on a scale of one to five (one being not satisfied at all and five being highly satisfied) how do you feel about your butt?
- Cognitive body image is the way we think about our body. This aspect can lead to preoccupation with body shape and weight. A question to ask yourself: what percentage of the day do you spend thinking about how you could change your body?
- Behavioral body image encompasses resulting behaviors an individual engages in based on how they see, feel, and think about their body. A question to ask yourself: would you skip a Fourth of July party because you feel uncomfortable about the way your body looks?
If you answered in the following ways (1. no, 2. closer to satisfied, 3. a small percentage of the day 4. no) you most likely have a positive body image - yay! If you’re concerned that you may have a negative body image, that’s OK; we’ve listed ways to help improve it.
How Can I Improve My Body Positivity?
There are several things we can do to help develop a positive body image and the self-confidence that comes with it:
- Celebrate and love yourself: Did you walk two miles while cleaning up the local shoreline? Amazing! love all the things you are. Have stretch marks from your pregnant belly? What a lovely reminder of the miracle your body made!
- Get that body movin’: engage in meaningful movement each day. This could be anything from volunteering to walk shelter dogs to training for a triathlon. The point here is to treat your body in two ways. First with physical activity which will get those “feel good” endorphins going, and secondly you’ll also have a sense of accomplishment which is good for your mental health as well.
- Recognize unrealistic imagery: many brands like aerie, CVS, and Seventeen magazine have committed to using imagery with no retouching. However, the vast majority of media do retouch their imagery so it’s good to remind ourselves that a lot of what we see is not reality.
- Nix negative talk: maybe it’s from yourself, about you, or about someone else - no matter what - shut that sh*# down! It’s all-around unkind and hurtful.
- Self-care: whether it’s scheduling a stress-relieving massage or engaging in a cellulite reducing routine - a little self-care goes a long way.
What Causes Positive Body Image?
Body image can be influenced by a number of things. Images on social media, the starring actress in your favorite show, and what your family and friends consider to be “normal,” “good-looking,” or “healthy” are a few examples. These external factors make up a large part of our body image but it’s good to be aware of internal factors as well, like how you talk to and about yourself.
When it comes to consumable imagery, today’s landscape is thankfully a lot more diverse and inclusive. Model Ashley Graham, actor Asia Kate Dillon, and yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley are among some of the role models that have emerged within the body positivity movement.
Even with all these tools and role models, it can still be challenging to love ourselves. And no one thinks that every day we’re going to feel 100% great about our bodies. If it were easy, everyone would always be positive and always be happy. Hopefully, we’ve outlined some ways that will help you become more so and if they help, we’d love to know! Share your body positivity with our community.