We all have a body. Our bodies play a pretty big role in our life experience. Our bodies are political, they are a reason so many of us are having such a hard time within society and they are a vehicle by which we try to find peace.
We are trying to create body positivity in our world - but are we actually making our way towards this goal?
What Would We Need To Create An Actual Body Positivity Movement?
We do not yet have a body positivity movement - and as far as I can see, we aren’t making any REAL progress towards having one. Or the progress we are making is slow because we aren’t really aiming for what the true aim is.
TLDR; This world has been historically and contemporarily unsafe for MANY different bodies. Our bodies have been a ‘reason’ for the ways in which we humans have pitted ourselves against one another. It’s through body violence that we inflict the most harm on one another. Our bodies have been the reason we’ve othered and been othered - the justification we’ve used for our deep sense of disconnection and the subsequent feeling of justification in our attacks on one another. Our bodies have been a reason we’ve had to fear for our safety. The reason we’ve been ‘out’ when being out means violence, deep danger and needs not getting met.
If we REALLY want a body positivity movement, we have to start to recognize that what is actually being called for is a movement where all bodies are SAFE to EXIST in this world.
Where we have the capacity to see BEYOND our physical exteriors to the HUMAN BEINGS that lie within them.
Until we start to have ACTUAL REVERENCE for life and what it means to be a part of the human race, we aren’t going to have safety and without that safety we can’t have body positivity. Because this is a political and a humanitarian issue.
Do we want to be a part of the generation that FINALLY starts to lay down our swords of difference, that can accept that YES we are DIFFERENT and that makes us UNKNOWN to one another. But at the same time, we are ONE RACE. Are we going to accept that either we ALL go forward, or NONE of us do? And in that acceptance are we going to move for the freedom for ALL BEINGS to exist in their bodies with a degree of safety that requires a shift in how society runs? Are we ready and willing to accept and embrace that there will never be EQUALITY (equal capacity to meet our needs and to survive and thrive), and thus we must choose to CREATE EQUITY through social movements were we look to one another as a community of brothers and sisters that we all take a collective responsibility for? We take responsibility for ourselves, yes, but we also hold that we are a global village all living in one eco system. Again, either we all make it, or none of us do.
You don’t owe anyone your health or purity in any way. Ever. Forever.
Body safety is what we want. A body positivity movement needs to be about what this is really about, otherwise it will be a superficial trend that never really soothes anything.
Now back to my essay.
But Let's Back Up:
Your body isn’t a trend.
Your body isn’t a fashion accessory.
It isn’t something that defines who you are as a being.
It can’t tell the world what you’ve been through. What you believe. What you’ve seen and experienced. It’s the vehicle through which you experience this life and through which you can be experienced by others - but that’s all.
What we have right now isn’t a body positivity movement.
We have constantly shifting TRENDS that leave us ever grasping for what we ‘should be’ in order to feel worthy, good enough and valued by society.
We have a revolving door of ‘this is ok and that isn’t’ judgements we are making of one another when most of us have little to no actual expertise on what a healthy body is, on one another, or even where the person in front of us is coming from and where they are going.
Even the idea that people ‘should’ be healthy - and if they aren’t (based on our visual assessment) this is perfectly reasonable grounds for comment, concern or even hate and dismissal - is completely bonkers when you really think about it.
Body Positivity Isn't About Diversity - Diversity Is Important - But Not The Solution:
Currently, we’re being fed the idea that we’re being exposed to more diversity in body types. That the world is trending away form stick thin, white, able bodied bodies as our benchmark for health, beauty and status, towards ‘strong bodies.’ Big bodies. Bodies with different colored skin.
Now, I’m ALL FOR diversity. Please understand me. On the most high level we absolutely need and deserve to have representation of all different shapes, sizes and origins of bodies. We have to decentralize what health and beauty are, so that we can start to appreciate and understand that these things show up EVERYWHERE.
At the same time, what I see happening more often than not, is a shifting of the things we are allowed to shame, allowed to judge, allowed to reject in exchange for the new thing we have to embrace, idolize and model ourselves after.
In my view, eating more than you need to and lifting weights for hours a day to get ‘thick’ is no different than starving yourself and doing hours on the stair master.
Obsessing about your macros and posting photos of every meal you eat which fits into some perfect diet mould is no different than scrupulously counting every calorie that passes your lips.
Feeling that you NEED to alter your body in some way in order to be GOOD ENOUGH for OTHERS - this isn’t body positivity.
This is again, shifting trends.
There is no health to be found in this.
Next, the idea that we owe one another health is also completely inappropriate.
We are forgetting a LOT of things when we look at someones body and instantly judge it.
First, we are forgetting that at the end of the day, we have no idea what’s REALLY going on with someone else's body.
Unless we are intimate and close family members/friends with the person owning the body in question - we don’t know what their health status is. No matter how much we may THINK we know, no matter how many of their meals they have posted to the internet, how much they have told us about their lives - we still DON’T KNOW. We can’t make a judgement. They may be doing AMAZING for where they are AT - with the obstacles faced and the realities of their lives - and still be relatively ‘sick’. They may exerting massive effort every day to care for themselves and not be glowing and perfected. We.Have.No.Idea and what someone looks like isn’t a reflection of how they are caring for themselves.
Next, we are forgetting that every body comes with a LINEAGE. You have no idea the HISTORY of the body you’re looking at. You have no idea if that person health status is due to trauma they haven’t ever spoken about. Is due to poor nutrition as a child that led to chronic adulthood issues. You have no idea what that person is doing behind the scenes to take care of themselves. You don’t know why they are the way they are - and their choices in this adult lifetime tell only a fraction of the story. I understand that we want to believe we have ultimate control over our OWN bodies and thus project onto OURSELVES that all of our bodies issues come done to some sort of choice we have made - but this isn’t reality.
This person also exists in an ENVIRONMENT you have no idea about. They could be doing everything in their power to be healthy, but be up against extreme lifestyle stress, chronically poor working conditions, living in a nutritional desert, not having the time or energy or desire to prioritize their bodies, perhaps they are living in a place where food is hard to come by, not having education - there are a plethora of things that again could be affecting someones body and health that you have no idea about.
Come back next week for the second post!