Do We Have A Body Positivity Movement?

Hi Friend 🙂

We judge and shame that which we fear and misunderstand.

Our current body positivity movement is a kind of confusing mess of love and acceptance mixed with guilt, shame and a rejection of one thing in order to try to make room for its apparent opposite. It's liberated some to embrace themselves while calling others to take up a mantle of shame. Turning to blaming those who seem to oppose what some are, for the shame that those 'others' feel and have felt about their situation - ie. turning to those who are doing something to 'lose weight' or 'get healthier' and making them a 'problem' because they then make those who are looking to make peace with their weight or disengage from the whole mindset of 'self improvement' feel badly about their choices.
We are working to become more inclusive. To celebrate the diversity of physical forms that exist while also fighting for equal, humane treatment of some bodies that have been cast into the margins of society. We are working to uncouple the concepts of self worth and self love from body size/shape/capacity or function and this idea is a very good thing. But we are also seeing deep denials of reality to try to release ourselves of mental prisons created from a way of life that's simply dramatically opposed to human thriving.

What Caused Body Negativity?

I feel in this quest for true body positivity, we have to take a step back and look at what caused us to have such a tangled relationship with our physical form, the physical forms of others, and the inner work we have to do of we really want something new. If we want an integrated sense of self that can navigate health, self worth and societal relationships in these human bodies we have.

The first thing we must address here is how much our bodies activate visceral, survival fears in us - without our being aware that this is what's happening.
Our bodies represent SO MUCH of what we fear deep down in our nervous system programming.
Our bodies remind us daily of our separation from one another. Our vulnerability to sickness and disease ie. suffering. Our otherness that gets us rejected. They trigger in us the fear of separation, out of control suffering and death because it is only through the body that we can experience these things. They bring up generational trauma of certain bodies being objectified, overpowered, abused and otherwise treated as less than human - and they trigger in us the visceral fear of not being safe when we posses those characteristics that are likely to get us abused, abandoned and traumatized in our current world. Make no mistake - this world is NOT a safe place for all bodies. This causes us to viscerally reject in our OWN bodies what is unsafe in this world, and to viscerally reject OTHERS bodies who represent these marginalized characteristics. If we can't acknowledge the very real reality of the inherent insecurity some physical characteristics carry with them, we will never have a body positivity movement. We reject that which threatens survival - and due to how humanity has behaved and still behaves, some physical attributes make us targets. This fear is real and must be honored. It's not just that we want to look nice to be accepted - we also don't want to be violated.
We are not really judging the body most of the time - we are being triggered by what the body represents to our deep subconscious or what it represents in a SOCIETY that is NOT a safe place for all bodies - and we are judging in an attempt to separate ourselves - to put space between - that which we fear and the beings we recognize ourselves to be. We feel deep down if we judge the other enough, the self enough, we will be protected from them or will create change in ourselves.
Most of the time when we are thinking anything negative about a body we don't know anything about, ie. Someone else's body, or our own bodies that we often feel deeply alienated from and traumatized by, we are doing so because that body represents suffering to us. We fear it. So we judge and shame in order to distance. It has gotten us abused, rejected and otherwise hurt or harmed. It represents something that our society or the world at large has harmed en mass. It represents losing love and being abandoned. THIS is why we fear bodies.
They represent pain and suffering.
This is real and it still exists in ways that we can feel very out of control around. To deny the trauma of being in a body that is so vulnerable to attack on so many levels is to deny a massive part of why we have so much fear and resistance to our physical experience. The very real insecurity must be addressed. There is trauma in being in a 'womans' body which can be overpowered, a 'disabled' body, a 'sick' body, a body that houses a soul that expresses sexuality outside of societal norms, a body that refuses to succumb to societal pressures and status' quo's on any level, a body with a skin shade that's been historically or contemporarily exploited and so on. So many bodies have been the reason abuse has occurred. Let us feel this.
I feel this point cannot be underscored enough. If we are not willing to talk about the inherent lack of safety in SO many bodies due to the way society is set up we are never going to heal as a human race. Own your trauma. It's not your fault. Your body is not to blame for how society has treated you. Ever. It is not you or your body's fault. You did not ask to be born into the skin you're in and for that skin/expression to be something that puts a target on your back.
It's not your body's fault that you have been unsafe. It's the society that needs to change. Can you own that and allow yourself to feel and grieve what you've been through?

Self Worth And The Body:

Next, we have to address the fact that we've tied in our sense of self worth to our physicality.
Our capacity to perform tasks - ableism - is one way we judge one another and ourselves, which we came by honestly through sick and weak individuals being more of a liability than an asset when we were still struggling to survive against the elements.
For beauty which started as observations of what people who could reproduce strong offspring looked like, which has morphed over the centuries into our view of what success is.
Our ability and our appearance comes as a sign of our worth and value in society - what can you produce vs. what do you cost and can you help proliferate the species. Do you represent prosperity and reproduction or neediness and our human fragility? Are you a producer (back in the days of survivalism) or are you a good BATTERY in this new system of productivity at all costs? These productivity markers are again rooted in a rotten system.
A system that is out of synch with reality and humanity.
In a survivalist/productivity based society - which we still have - these are your worth. In this world where production is praised above all things we will always measure everything by this metric and the body is no exception.
Thus, we need to start deeply questioning the SYSTEMS that exist, that create these feelings of worthlessness, insecurity, inability to love the body and so on. Our every man for himself, productivity at all costs, productivity is your value system we will always feel inadequate. Because our biology is not set up to produce all the time. Our physiologies are not all equal in their capacity. Our unique, cyclical, non-stable body states oppose our societal structure. We will always, always be lacking. We will always have trauma around our natural needs and feelings. Until we change how we operate, because we are never going to change how we naturally function.
Until we can tease apart our productivity from our worth as a human being, from our capacity to SURVIVE and THRIVE or to just live well, we will hate these bodies that can't live up to the mechanistic expectations of our heartless system.
In this, can you recognize where you have been taught that you must be constantly producing, must be 'well', must be 'beautiful,' must be contributing at all times and see that this again is a SYSTEM of oppression, a system of disconnection from our physiology and our natural existence as a part of nature - not something that is wrong with you? Can you own the times and places you have felt that you didn't want to our couldn't live up to the societal pressure and found that you had no choice but to try, or to face negative consequences? Can you see how this isn't your fault but again is a product of a system built in opposition to your physiology?

We Are Dead To Feeling:

Finally we've lost touch with feeling. With nature. Which that which supports true and lasting health and wellness in the body. Diets that have made food all about micro and macro nutrients - this or that ingredient rather than seeing nutrition as a whole and the body as a whole, 'processed' food, excessive stress, the continual drumbeat of productivity, the idea that we must fit into culture, how we are indoctrinated in school to be 'thinkers' never feelers - have caused us again to feel totally alien in our own vessels.
We have been trained to think disease happens to us. That only doctors/experts can cure.
We search for the diet that will make us skinny or ripped or whatever's in vogue but never the diet that will support our capacity to live pain free without chronic disease.
We have coupled weight with health - when the truth of weight and health is extremely complex.
We've tied our self worth to our diet choices which is fully absurd when you really take a step back.
We're told in the cleansing world that weight = waste when in reality the body can store weight for a plethora of reasons, some of which are incredibly health supporting. The fact that the human body evolved to be able to store fat for fuel to be used later on is the reason we're all here right now.
At the same time, putting on weight from eating mangoes is very different than putting on weight due to consuming nothing but ice cream and cookies. Losing weight via starvation and over exercise is incredibly different from losing weight through a program of focusing on whole foods, rest, natural movement and connection to what brings us alive. Even having access to the ingredients for health, for true vibrancy, is not a universal experience. Coupling our worth with our ways of eating and moving again is, at its very core, toxic - because we don't all have the power to CHOOSE for ourselves that which would support us in fitting into the cultural narrative of health and beauty. SO MANY of us would LOVE to have a green smoothie instead of the dollar menu at McDonalds - but simply don't have the means to make that happen. So again these messages of worth and value being attached to how 'healthy' we can be is a fallacy. Another way we are taught to shame ourselves for something we wouldn't willingly choose if we could make another choice.
We have tried to make health an 'ultimate' truth that can be applied to all - to find the 'average' and say THIS is what health is - when the reality is that health is SO individual and SUCH a relative journey that to think we can create an average that applies to everyone is deeply simplistic.
For instance, someone who has been starving from literal lack of adequate energy to keep their organs and tissues functioning, thus causing degradation to said organs over time, is going to actually GAIN HEALTH from eating pretty much ANYTHING - from chocolate cake to apples and oranges. The idea that in some states energy is simply the answer and will produce the health outcome of survival - where continuing to not eat due to lack of 'healthy' food would actually be WORSE for health - is reality. This person is most likely going to see their body 'over shoot' its weight gain past what we may consider 'healthy' - and again that is actually HEALTHIEST for them to do in this moment. Being 'overweight' is relatively speaking, their healthiest state to be in at the moment while the body recovers and comes to terms with the fact that food is going to be available now. If we look at them and say 'you are overweight and thus unhealthy' this is factually false. On their relative path this is the healthiest place to be - for their longevity.
Counter to this, if someone lives in the tropics, works a physical job outdoors, has access to high quality, nutrient dense foods and lives a relatively low stress lifestyle, their body is most likely going to express as very lean - maybe leaner than what we would consider 'healthy' especially by Western standards. This persons body has actually gone into a state of deep efficiency and is lean to avoid the excess heat that would be produced through carrying more weight than needed, and it's thus saving that energy which would then have to be used for cooling the body for more long term tasks. This person most likely won't be able to eat enough to pack on any more weight and that again, is healthiest for them in that moment.
Where someone is at on their health path can't be observed. The human body is ALWAYS doing the best it can with what it's being given.

Next week I will continue this exploration. For now, take this in and let me know what you think!



Author perceptiontrainers

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Verity says:

    Loved this. I hated it when I needed a lot more food and put on weight when my body got sick. But then I learnt that if I hadn’t been bigger, the excess cortisol (which I have but is slowly normalising : ) would be stored around my organs (rather than excess body fat), and I would probably be dead by now. Bodies know best! Xx

    • perceptiontrainers says:

      For SO many reasons, your body is on your side. Always. That cortisol is a response to this world, never your fault and never your bodies fault. you are worthy of all that work you’ve done to bring those levels down. I am here celebrating you in taking care of yourself. That is POWERFUL work you are doing for YOURSELF and for the world <3 <3 <3 Love walking beside you on your path <3

  • […] In case you missed it, you can read part one of this post here. […]

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