Take a look in the mirror. What do you see?
A young man in his prime checks himself out after a chest session at the gym. His ego launches into the stratosphere, but then he remembers his skin color and quickly falls back to earth.
A 33-year-old mother of two feels anxiety when she notices the signs of aging beginning to grace her face. How can she prevent the inevitable? Miracle creams? Botox?
A pre-teen girl poses for a selfie, but the end result doesn't compare to the Instagram model she just saw on her feed. She embarks on a journey to achieve the same impossible physique by researching ways to get thin quickly or move weight to the right places.
All of these people have something in common: when they observe their bodies, they want something other than what they see. They're so taken by what they want to look like, or what society thinks they should look like, that they end up seeing past what's actually there: Someone who is alive, complex, emotional, and beautiful.
It's hard to blame them. From a young age, we are put through a gauntlet of imagery depicting the perfect body, most of which is augmented by poses, lighting, and editing. Infomercials babble on about weight or wrinkles; implicit biases teach us that skin color makes a difference in how people perceive one another. We internalize these images and opinions and soon default to them when thinking about our own bodies. Over time, our self-esteem diminishes and our overall well-being is affected.
This May, we're going to be practicing body positivity to challenge these influences and learn to view our bodies and ourselves through a loving and appreciative lens.
What is Body Positivity?
Body positivity is the art of learning to accept and love one's body as it is, rather than longing for what it isn't. The body positivity movement is most commonly associated with acceptance of one's physical shape and size. But it also strives to challenge judgments about race, gender, and sexuality. By learning to recognize the unrealistic standards and stereotypes we encounter - whether in others or in ourselves - we can begin to challenge them with feelings of love, acceptance, and positivity towards our physical appearances.
Addressing Criticisms of Body Positivity
It's important to address a few problems and criticisms of the body positivity message before embracing it. One common criticism is that body positivity pushes the idea that people should do whatever it takes to think positively about their physical appearances. No doubt there are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about doing this. We're going to focus on what we believe to be healthy and safe methods to achieve a more positive self-image. Another criticism is that body positivity promotes physical appearance as the most important component of one's self-worth. In reality, the starting point for true body positivity is removing our physical appearances from the center of our self-worth.
Body positivity is a way to take the focus off unhealthy diet and exercise habits and replace them with a positive mindset towards our amazing bodies. What does that look like? We don’t believe it looks like eating whatever you want and accepting what happens to your body as a result. Many times unhealthy eating behaviors are driven by dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. People eat to cope with the negative feelings, and the cycle continues.
By learning to accept our appearance, we can take the healthier approach to getting in shape, which is to do so gradually, through making permanent lifestyle changes and by establishing healthy diet and exercise habits. Notice we said body positivity is an “art” of learning. It doesn't happen overnight, and the journey doesn't end with an epiphany that brings people into a state of self-acceptance for the rest of their lives. The challenge of body positivity is the constant push-and-pull with societal influences, the perceptions of others, and our own self-image. But this art is something we can learn, no matter our shape, color, or size.
At Oats Overnight, we believe that positive change is possible through small, daily rituals that result in growth. We create premium, nutritious food that helps our customers reach attainable goals, one morning at a time. Join us as we journey together towards greater health, success, and joy.