My Views on Body Positivity
In response to a media request, I was contacted earlier this year for my thoughts on body positivity by Kristen Dold for an article in Women's Health magazine, "This Is How Women Today REALLY Feel About Getting Naked".
My direct quotes weren't used in the final article in the September 2017 issue, so I'm sharing them with you here---
The body positivity movement is all about telling women to love your body, love yourself, that any body is a bikini body, but women’s mentality hasn’t synced up to the trend. (Almost 80 percent of women say they’re not confident in a bikini—same as four years ago.) Why do you think that is?
It takes a long time to reverse thinking. The male gaze has determined what's normal and desirable for so long that it will take a long time to discredit. That can be seen in the backlash to the feminist movement - those in power are not quick to relinquish it. Also many women support the beauty ideals because of internalized sexism and misogyny. Though a woman may be body positive, unless she's surrounded by a supportive network, and not attacked by trolls and others who aren't happy with themselves it can be lonely and tough to maintain the positivity.
Lots of women said they believe they’re beautiful, but they’re not comfortable having their body exposed in public. What do you think the reason is behind that?
A woman can believe she's beautiful but the minute she walks out the door she's reduced to a sex object. Women's bodies are often sexualized. And when that happens the blame is often placed on the woman. Many woman have to steel themselves against the catcalls and street harassment. It can be easier to just 'cover up' to remain invisible (even though that doesn't necessarily stop the harassment).
If you’ve learned to love your body more over the years, what’s been the reason? (For example, you’ve gotten more comfortable with age, you feel like your body has changed for the better, you've seen more positive images in them media, or you’re wiser, etc.)
With age comes wisdom and an IDGAF attitude. You're given the one body and unless you have the money and will for plastic surgery, it is what it is. I take care of myself through diet and exercise so the positive physical and mental effects keep me in love with my body. In this age of social media there are a lot more natural and 'real' bodies being displayed and praised. I think young girls and women being exposed to different types of bodies, stretch marks, body hair, mesomorphs, androgynous bodies, plus size athletes is wonderful and will hopefully rid internalized criticisms and body hate and shame. They'll learn that the runway isn't the norm.
When women were asked how they felt about their body, the majority of women said “neutral or accepting.” (Compared to positive feelings, or feelings of dislike.) What does accepting/neutral mean to you?
I think accepting my body means being happy with it. I don't want to say I'm "settling" for it, that may read like, "I don't like my body but I'll make do" and that's not the case at all. Self-acceptance is love, unconditional self-love. I accept when I sit down that my stomach will poke out. I accept my back fat, I accept my thick thighs; doesn't mean it's a bad thing, doesn't make my body less womanly or functional or beautiful or strong. Self-acceptance is on the way to self-love for those who are still on that journey.
What are your thoughts on body positivity? Are you body positive? Do you accept your body? Do you hate the term "body positive"?