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The Pressure to Be Body Positive

Photographs taken by Holly Smith

DO YOU LOVE YOUR BODY?

When I was 13, I remember looking at my body in a judgemental way. I looked at my thighs, my growing hips and my serious lack of anything to fill a bra, and feeling defeated. ‘Why don’t I look how I’m meant to look?‘ churned in my mind, and I thought one day it would stop.

That day is yet to come, and as a twenty-something girl, growing through the age of instagram and social media expectations, those thoughts in my mind only seem to be getting more frequent.

There’s not a whole lot of room for us to make mistakes, nobody seems to be being honest about what they think or feel, and no matter what they preach on Instagram there is STILL a huge ‘us and them’ mind set when it comes to women’s body size and shape. And then, there’s the pressure to be body positive.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

Taken by Holly Smith

One minute women are told to love their bodies, and have confidence in the skin they’re in – the next they’re seeing people cancelled and exposed for face tuning their images, and lying about the cosmetic surgery they’ve had.

We’re bombarded with images of society’s, and the fashion worlds’, idea of the ‘perfect’ body every minute of the day. Reload your Instagram explore any time of the day and I guarantee at least one picture of a model on a beach in bali comes up.

Now, don’t misinterpret my angst – those girls ARE beautiful, and if I looked like them I too would frolic on exotic beaches in bikinis freely. I don’t have a problem with how they look, or what they do, if anything I applaud them for their dedication to maintenance and upkeep of their tanned, toned figures. What I do have a problem with, is brands and influencers alike, sharing the idea that they are the pinnacle of beauty and health.

This craze of taking up as little space in the room as possible is draining. It’s been drilled into me by all surrounding sources that the smaller the number on my jeans, the more accepted I will be.

SOCIAL PRESSURES

There was uproar in recent months about a new app designed to aid children as young as 8 years old to lose weight through dieting. The app, named Kurbo, was released by Weight Watchers, a popular weight loss brand and company. The app follows a weight loss coaching programme, offering users a means to control their weight by tracking food intake and counting calories.

This app is designed for children. CHILDREN who have not yet fully developed, who are not yet responsible for themselves. And they’re being told to lose weight to conform to society’s ideal of what is beautiful and healthy.

The sad thing is, when I read about this I wasn’t surprised. The shock of how far people will go to profit off people’s low self esteem is way past that point. But, these are kids. Little kids, whose bodies aren’t even fully developed yet, who shouldn’t be worrying about how many calories they’re consuming in a day, or how much they weigh, are being targeted.

Twitter was in a frenzy, with people calling out this app for encouraging disordered eating amongst young people and children, and sharing the dangerous message that dieting was the way to be fit and healthy.

This obsession with diet culture, calorie counting and body fat percentage is ruining what little joy we have when it comes to living our lives.

 

A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE

I have struggled throughout my teenage and now adult life with trying to accept and love my body. I want to love my skin, with all its wiggles, dimples, stretch marks and freckles, but there are days when I truly hate it.

Isn’t that sad? That at twenty-three years old I still look at my body like it’s not worthy because it doesn’t conform to what I’m told is attractive?

I could list off the areas I dislike and disregard, but that does no good. I could starve myself again, and over exercise to make myself smaller, but that also does no good. Neither does sitting on the sofa and binge eating. So what IS being positive in my body?

Do I need to only eat plant based foods and go to the gym 4 times a week to be healthy and positive? Can I be body positive whilst eating junk food and not exercising?

WHAT NOW?

The message has without a doubt for me has become muddled. I don’t know which one to take on board. One post tells me eating dominos and not gyming for a week IS ok, the next one tells me if I do that I’m not showing my body the love it deserves, so I’m now body negative.

I feel lost, to be quite frank. In a sea of bikini pictures, gym videos, dancing in your pants and letting it jiggle posts – I don’t know where to turn to.

I don’t feel I’ve found my community where I feel content and welcome. I don’t struggle to find clothes that fit me and I exercise semi-regularly, with access to healthy food with the odd treat here and there. On paper, I am in a very fortunate position with nothing to worry about.

Yet I still feel the same way I did ten years ago; I still feel this deep rooted resentment and hate towards my form. So imagine what someone who has grown up with social media throwing all these messages feels like.

Taken by Holly Smith

MOVING FORWARD

Though this body positive movement is full of good intentions, and no doubt good people, the minefield that is social media can sometimes leave me feeling very alone and in the dark with it.

I want to learn to really love my body, and I know it’s going to take more time and work for me to rid the negative connotations and thoughts I have associated with it, but I’m ready to make it work.

And more importantly, I want to make it so every other millennial girl who feels like this knows they’re not alone. I know it sucks right now, but you got this. We’re really in this together.

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1 Comment

  1. Nicki
    November 5, 2019 / 8:23 pm

    Brilliantly honest as ever ❤️

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