Body Acceptance Is More Important Than Body Positivity
When it comes to disordered eating and body image issues, the term “body positivity” gets thrown around a lot. Although the intention behind this movement is good, sometimes the execution can get distorted and can cause more frustration than freedom. It’s far more important to have body acceptance than body positivity.
So what is body positivity?
The body positivity movement promotes the mindset that anyone can and should have a positive body image, despite their size, weight, looks, or any perceived “flaws,” and that we should accept others’ bodies. I love the purpose behind body positivity, but I also think that it can be an extremely unrealistic—and sometimes harmful—concept for some people.
The sad truth is that someone who has hated their body for 20 (or more) years cannot just flip a switch and suddenly love their body and themselves. When you struggle with body image and body acceptance, it is usually based on years of negative self-beliefs, patterns, and behaviors. It’s not something you can just turn off.
It takes awareness, commitment, and time to shift to a place of body acceptance.
True body acceptance and transformation begins with honesty. Be honest with where you are at and how you feel about your body. If you hate your body, that’s okay. If that is where you are right now in your journey, then accept it so that you can eventually transcend it.
You can’t truly change if you are denying your current reality.
Even if you can’t fathom the idea of accepting and loving your body, try to channel gratitude for your body. It is an incredible vessel and your lifelong companion. Although it may not look how you want it to look, or weigh what you want it to weigh, think of all the amazing things that it does on a daily basis. These are usually involuntary acts that you don’t even need to think about.
Fending off cold and disease…
Birthing new life into the world…
The list goes on and on. Stop and take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful things your body does day in and day out.
A realization that really helped me connect with my body and stop the vicious self-talk and attacks was this:
Your body is an innocent bystander.
When you struggle with diet and weight, it can be second nature to shame and hate your body. But the truth is that food cravings and addiction stem from the mind. And all that negative self-talk, shaming, and hating your body? That’s the mind, too. When you overeat to numb and suppress a “bad” emotion? That’s your mind trying to protect you from pain. Do you see a pattern here?
It’s not your body’s fault that you struggle with food.
The idea of body positivity, let alone self-love, can seem like an impossibility to many people. I totally get it—that was me for so long. It took me almost half my life to realize that I didn’t have a food problem, I had a self-love problem. The first step to recovery was getting honest about my feelings toward my body. Then I had to dig deep to feel self-compassion as I worked through all the emotional garbage that was making me so unhappy and that was causing me to turn to food for comfort again and again.
Transformation needs to be founded in love, and that starts with honesty and acceptance.
Don’t aim for instant body positivity. Instead, make your goal eventual body acceptance. Start small, with honesty and acceptance of where you are at, how you feel, and where you want to go. Remember that fear-based motivation is never going to “fix” you; it won’t lead to real, lasting transformation. It’s like building a house on a shoddy foundation.
Take the time to lay a strong, loving foundation. From there, real, life-changing transformation will be inevitable.
Images courtesy of iStock