I have mixed feelings about the term “body positivity.” Here’s why:
On the plus side, I agree that we should all feel positively about our bodies. We should nourish, honor, and care for our physical selves. It’s so easy to engage in self-attack, rather than appreciating our earthly forms for all the wonderful things they enable us to do.
But (you knew there was a “but”) –
The idea of “body positivity” is juxtaposed against the way many women feel about their physical selves – negatively. Badly. Never good enough. The very fact that we have to be reminded to think positively highlights a societal problem – that positive thinking (at least in this area of life) is not the norm.
I should feel positively about my body – compared to what? Compared to the default, the negativity? That just makes me sad.
We must also ask ourselves: What makes a “good” body? For many of us, a good body is a disciplined one. If we exercise and diet without fail, without mistakes, to a point of near-emaciation, we have achieved some sort of physical ideal. We’ll never entirely get there, though.
Here’s the paradox: We can’t live our lives to the fullest if we’re caught up in criticizing ourselves. We must look outward, engage, embrace. To do that, we must do what we can to stay physically healthy, and nurture ourselves through good hygiene and other forms of self-care — then, forget about it. When people look at me, I don’t think they’re dwelling on my uneven jawline, graying hair, crooked nose, or undereye bags (and if they are, they’re the one with a problem). I hope, instead, they focus on my smile and what’s in my eyes, and the connection between us.
So “body positivity” is a step, as far as it goes. But it’s a beginning step in the process of how we enter the world. Take care of your body each day – then look outward. There’s a community out there that needs what only you can give.