body image / Club Together / May 2015: Women's Bodies / sisterhood

What Does Body Positivity Mean To You?

photo

Drawing by Zaftig Paint

Club Together is a monthly segment where Katherine & I explore a topic and invite bloggers to share their answers. You can read our previous group post on what happiness means to us here.

Recently, there has been a huge focus on body image in mainstream media. There has been the on-going debate about “plus-size” and the backlash against Jamelia’s controversial comments regarding whether or not shops should sell “extreme” clothes sizes. Plus our very own Catstello has been splashed across the news after protesting the “Beach Body” adverts in London Underground. So we asked our readers to define what body positivity means to them, in an attempt to bring the debate back round to a positive.

keff2For me, body positivity is all about not being ashamed of my body and embracing what I have. Women are constantly being told that their body isn’t right or could be improved and it got to the point where I just thought: fuck that. I used to have an extreme hate for my body, to the extent that I’d self harm, abuse laxatives and starve myself. I’m not that person anymore because I realised that the ‘perfect body’ is just a lie being sold by people who profit off women’s misery.

I’m not at the point where I can look in the mirror and say I am 100% happy with my body, but I can say that I’m not ashamed of it because it’s mine and I’ve learned to love me. I’ve realised that it’s a fantastic tool and not just there to be looked at. It gets me to and from uni, it lets me taste sweet, sweet nandos and yes, it can look banging in the right clothes. VIVA SELF-LOVE!

– Keff
London/Sheffield
Keffnote – The Public Diary

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 23.20.37As you may have gathered by now – body positivity, to me, means feeling great about yourself regardless of what media is trying to sell you. I’m twenty two years of age and I have only started to truly love myself – how crazy is that?! My whole life I’ve been criticized by family, friends acquaintances and bad boyfriends on who I am and how I look. Little comments here and there that suggest I would look so much better if I were to lose weight and so on. I wish I had this amazing and empowering story on how I overcome it all but the truth is I just got bored.

I got bored of trying to meet the norm. I got bored of getting upset by what others thought of me and most importantly of all, I got bored with feeling lousy about myself. One day I just woke up and realised life is too short for this bollocks. I know I’m not perfect but for the first time in my life I can say I’m 100% happy with who I am. There’s so much pressure everywhere on women to look and act a certain way, why make it any harder on yourself? In a nutshell, I feel being body positive consists on owning on your flaws, embracing your uniqueness (we’re all different and that’s awesome!), wearing whatever the hell you want and never, NEVER putting anybody else down. To quote RuPaul “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?

Catstello
London
By Catstello

ScreenShot2015-02-02at74451PM_zps30d8e307Body positivity is being comfortable in one’s skin.  I’ve heard people who against body positivity say, “I don’t think we should promote obesity.”  The thing is feeling so negative about one’s body can be a health risk too: feeling hopeless, ugly or unwanted is just as unhealthy. Body positivity is not just for the obese, it is for everyone.  It is for the guy who thinks his hands are too rough and hides them in his pockets; for the woman who thinks her hips are too small in proportion to her waist; for the little girl who thinks she will only be wanted if she has certain measurements.

Body positivity has nothing to do with promoting obesity and I thought that was obvious.  If someone is telling you that you are ugly or need to make changes, chances are they’re not a doctor.  A doctor wouldn’t make you feel ugly or hate yourself.  Body positivity is knowing that your value is far beyond your body measurements.   Your body is a home to your amazing attributes, why should we feel so negative about the bodies we live in?  Why are people so negative about the bodies that strangers live in?

– Jacky
USA
Do It For The Irony

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 23.23.26Body positivity for me means all bodies, whether big, small, athletic, curvy and so forth are not any different from one another. Not liking some part of your body is something that almost everyone will deal with at some point in their life. Many people are plagued by feelings of not being good enough because they do not like the way they look. Maybe its because they do not think they are thin enough, tall enough or they just do not like the way they look but all of these thoughts can lead to low self-esteem.

Being body positive is a hard but necessary step to take in today’s society. It is a process and you have to constantly remind yourself to think in a positive way. Body positivity to me is reminding yourself that your body may not look like others but it is an amazing thing that allows you to do all of the things you love. Be thankful for the body that you have and remember true beauty is not skin deep.

Jess
Bath
Life: Live, Love and Laugh

imageFor me, body positivity means being able to look in the mirror and see something I’m proud of. I know that sounds vain but bear with me. I’ve always been The Skinny Girl who is naturally super-slim without even trying (okay now I sound vain AND smug – this gets better, I promise). I was proud of being skinny; it was my thing. Other girls were pretty, bright or funny – I was thin. When I became pregnant, the idea of gaining weight scared me so much that I barely ate. I was verging on an eating disorder (which is not something I say lightly or flippantly – my GP described it as disordered eating) and as soon as my baby was born I focused on getting my pre-baby body back. ‘Luckily’ I lost the weight pretty quickly and returned to my usual skinny self.

What I haven’t mentioned is that during this time I was in a deeply unhappy, physically abusive relationship and was suffering with depression so my sense of self-worth was seriously skewed. Fast forward two years and having left that relationship, built a new life and beaten depression, I have so many reasons to be proud of myself. Sure, my body is still one of them but now I’m proud of all of the work, sweat and tears I’ve endured since turning into a stronger body. I’m proud when I beat my personal best on a run – hell, I’m proud when I run – I’m prouder that my abs are stronger than most guys I know and I’m super proud that I now rejoice when I gain weight, rather than cry. So for me, body positivity is about more than my body. It’s about ME, about my determination, willpower and my courage dammit.

– Joanna
Milton Keyes
Teacups & Trainers

When I was a little girl, crying over a bad haircut or such, my mother used to tell me that it’s what’s inside that counts. SDC10834_FotorTwenty-odd years later, I can finally admit that she was right. For me, body positivity is more than knowing that every body is beautiful, it’s about learning to accept that my appearance is not my definition. Bodies get bigger, smaller, more lumpy, less bumpy, hairy and scary but none of that matters!

I’ve realised that what I put out is so much more important than what I put on – whether that’s a few extra pounds or a raggedy old t-shirt. I’d rather focus my energy on cultivating words, art, laughter and love so that when my body grows old and grey, I won’t mourn the loss of my youthful skin. Instead I’ll hoot a big hoorah for all of the glorious things that I unleashed into the world. Next time you’re pinching an inch around your tummy, take a tip from Roald Dahl: “You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

– Jessica Marie
London
JESMGIA

monochrome look 2 3Being body positive to me means that I don’t have to worry about losing weight or changing my body type to suit others. I am comfortable enough with myself that I feel confident no matter my size and I’m not afraid to feel sexy. I can feel confident and I don’t feel bad feeling good about myself.

I’ve been overweight for most of my life and I have now reached a point where I look good and feel great about myself. I don’t have to worry about who likes my body and who doesn’t because it’s mine – my body, my positive! Being body positive has honestly changed my outlook on life in the sense that I take no shit from anyone about my body because I know I look hot.

– Brooke
Seattle
Brooke Elise

Hilary6Body positivity is something I’ve struggled with. It is much easier to tell other people to love their bodies than it is to look at yourself and accept all of your imperfections. I get it, I’ve been there and still struggle. It is a daily fight I have with my own conscience. We are trained by the media from a young age to hate ourselves. We are supposed to look at ourselves and see every single little thing that doesn’t fit into their standard of beauty and hate it.

Well no more! No longer will I hate myself, I am beautiful. I am funny, adorable, and an awesome person. Once I learned that I can be beautiful just the way I am, I felt like a weight was removed from my shoulders. I now dress up for myself. I wear clothes that make me feel pretty and make me feel confident because I want to, not to gain approval from others. As I said, loving your unique self can be challenging but it is a challenge you have to accept and fight daily. You got this. We no longer have to let the media dictate what beauty is. We are beautiful because we say we are.

– Hilary
Washington
Cutie Cameras

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 12.35.00When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you see things you would change? Maybe you would want a flat stomach, bigger boobs, or a bigger bum? Take a moment to think about that. Body positivity is something that personally I have always struggled with, but to me, it means treating your body like your friend. Treating it with care and accepting yourself for the person that you are. Body positivity can be incredibly difficult especially when photoshop is so heavily used in advertisements and magazines. I have to admit this really has a big affect on a person and applies pressure on a woman to be perfect.

Another thing that I feel has an impact on body positivity is the fact that body shaming seems to be everywhere. We should all be able to love our body shape. Our bodies are beautiful, we come in all different shapes, sizes and races. It’s okay to have rolls and it’s okay to have abs. It’s also okay for your legs to touch, to show muscles, to have big boobs or to have small boobs. Your body is fabulous! Nobody ever has the right to call someone ugly, fat, gross or point out something that makes their body different. We are all beautiful in every way & don’t ever let someone make you think otherwise.

– Amie
London
The Curvaceous Vegan

Me!Body positivity – it’s not just a phrase it’s a mind set. It’s not about having the media’s ideal “perfect body”, it’s about accepting the imperfections and being happy with yourself anyway. It’s not always easy and there will always be self doubt. If I’m happy with myself 90% of the time, I’m good with that!

I think to be body positive, you must learn to ignore the media’s perception of how you should look. Ignore people who want to put you down. Whatever size or shape you are, there will always be someone telling you something needs to change, it doesn’t. Body positivity, to me, is accepting that your body might not be “perfect”, but it is perfect for you and knowing that ultimately, that’s all that matters. After all, you’re the one living in it!

– Debbie
North West England
My Random Musings

Cory_U_InstaI don’t think I got truly comfortable with myself and my body until a few years ago, definitely not until at least my twenties. Before that, there was too much judgement and comparison going on around me. It was hard to ignore, I remember girls in my school at the age of thirteen having arm waxing parties when I barely started to shave my legs. The idea of bodies developing at different rates was proved to me then but I really didn’t understand it at such a young age. I was still growing, still developing and always adapting to some new internal change. It wasn’t until this stopped or at least the changes slowed down that I really became comfortable and accepted me for me.

It wasn’t like I wasn’t confident being me beforehand. I still dressed, acted, and did only what I wanted to outside of what everyone else was doing. I just think being comfortable comes with more time and that’s when you feel more happy in your own skin. I finally knew what made me different and what I liked about my body in that way. I think body positivity comes from when you stop comparing and just start to just be you. You learn your shape, form, style, & quirks that truly are unique to you in a way that feels comfortable. Body positivity comes from listening to yourself always.

Cory
Toronto
CUExperiments

denim-stripes-peekaboo1When I first thought about writing this post, my weight loss last year was in the forefront of my mind. However when I really thought about it, I thought about how body positivity comes from within. Over a year ago,I was overweight and ashamed of my body. I am now a size ten/twelve and I still struggle with body positivity. It’s super hard when we live in a world surrounded by the airbrushed, the photoshopped and the cosmetically enhanced. Its almost rare to see a “who cares!” attitude. We constantly feel judged not only by the people around us but by our own psyches.

As much as I’d like to say I’m proud of my jelly belly and tiger stripes, I’m not. I keep them covered at all times. Yet after five and a half months of blogging I have seen people of all body sizes pull together and become an amazingly strong, powerful movement in terms of body image and positivity. I have had my eyes opened and have found incredibly strong women not giving a fuck how other people see them. I aspire to be like this. I look in the mirror and I have made a pact that every day I will tell myself that I am beautiful, strong and can be whoever I choose to be! Being beautiful and having a positive body image is not about being perfect, it’s not about how big or perky your boobs are or how tight your arse is. It’s about learning to be happy in yourself and in your soul. It’s about believing you are a strong incredible woman – no matter your size, shape or nationality.

Anna
Kent
Frazzled Beauty

rJoMZ5TcBody positivity is something near and dear to my heart. For so many years I was always ‘bigger’ than the other girls and all I ever wanted to be was one of the ‘popular skinny’ girls. I never lost much weight until high school and once that was over, the weight started piling back on.

This time last year, I was at the beach with my family on vacation. I was sleeping poolside (don’t judge) when a VERY drunk man started calling me vile names and got so boisterous to which he actually woke me up. I was humiliated – I knew I was big but who in their right mind (obviously he wasn’t) would say those things to someone. I never wanted to put on a bathing suit again – I acted liked I shrugged it off but in reality it slid through the cracks in that armor we all have. I still think that to this day would he have said something to me if I was 20lbs lighter? It doesn’t matter because body positivity to me is being able to put the new bikini I just bought on – go to the same beach – and enjoy myself, my life, and my body. I am DAMN fabulous – and one stranger’s opinion means NOTHING over the voices of the people I love.

Jennifer
Florida
Wench Queen

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.40.57Society forces certain images of ‘beauty’ on us from a very young age. This results in many people growing up believing that some are prettier than others which can lead to subconsciously discriminating against people. I don’t think anybody can fully reject the ideas of beauty that we are presented with but we have the choice of not acting on them. Body positivity is not always expressed through the first thought that comes into your head when you see a person, it’s more about the following one. It is when your first thought (clearly affected by the media) like “my thighs are huge” or “that person’s nose is weird” can be saved  by a simple follow up statement like “and they are fricking beautiful“.
Body positivity is not denying that you may not look like a size six photoshopped model but knowing that whatever a person looks like – they are beautiful. Body positivity is looking in the mirror and smiling because you accept yourself exactly how you are. It is liking your small boobs or fat thighs because they are part of you. When you have learnt to love yourself, body positivity is telling others that they are beautiful too.
Joanna
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2 thoughts on “What Does Body Positivity Mean To You?

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