In a relatively short span of time, the body positive movement has morphed from a quirky idea that few were familiar with, into a mainstream concept whose presence is found in our every day.
From body image activists disrupting social norms, to front page stories, heated online discussions and even shaping our use of language. Terms like ‘body image’ and ‘body acceptance,’ once unheard of, now grace the lips of popular body positive advocates, plus size models, social media influencers and perhaps even the sleep-deprived post partum mum, navigating the minefield of accepting her changing body.
As a Body Positive Fitness Professional, I’ve watched the rise and fall of micro trends within the body positive movement over the years.
What Does Body Positivity Mean?!
I often find myself asking the question, what does body positivity mean?
- Is it accepting your body, cellulite and flabby thighs, just as it is right now?
- Is it the young women spending thousands on ‘fixing’ their appearance in an effort to feel more confident?
- Are skinny women allowed to identify with the body positive movement?
- Is there a weight limit on body positivity?
These questions are the just tip of the iceberg. As I dig deeper into the complexities of body positivity, one thing remains clear – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer.
While body positivity is a helpful step away from the narrow beauty image standards imposed on women, it still preserves the belief that our bodies are, above all else, for the visual pleasure of others (men in particular.)
Moreover, certain big name brands having come under fire in the past for ‘piggybacking’ on the body positive movement purely for their own gain.
I, like many others, look to explore a newer and even less understood concept – body neutrality.
Body Positivity or Body Neutrality?
Body neutrality encourages one to focus on the achievements of the physical body, rather than appearance.
As a fitness professional who helps women feel more confident in their bodies, I’ve seen time and time again how an increase in physical strength leads to improvement about how a woman feels about her body.
When a woman does something physically demanding that she couldn’t do in the past (like a push up), the seed of body neutrality is planted. For many, this turns into body confidence which begins to flourish into body positivity.
But often, that takes years. The first step to hating our bodies a little less, is to accept our bodies a little more. Developing physical strength opens doors to body acceptance, by shifting the focus away from how our bodies look, to what our bodies can do.
The woman who once got sore arms when hanging out the washing who can now do 10 push ups without stopping sees a remarkable shift to how she feels about her body. Instead of only seeing the loose skin on her arms, she recognizes the strength within them. Instead of honing in on the cellulite on her legs, she remembers those same legs help her hike mountains. They enable her to run on the soft sand with her daughter. They carry her 5 year old son up two flights of stairs to his bed every night.
Her perspective of her body begins to change from one of disdain and disgust to appreciation and acceptance.
This is body neutrality.
I passionately hope one day the majority of women will feel positive about their bodies. But we’re not quite there yet.
Body neutrality is the path we take now, to pave the way for the next generation of girls and women so they can live vibrant, full lives without being held back by the damaging body image beliefs that plague this generation.
Connect with me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Body Positive Fitness Professional and Self-Care coach!
Your local Personal Trainer if you live in Brisbane bayside or Redlands