More than selfies & hashtags
Folks, don't get me wrong, I love me some unapolegetic selfies.
Keep that shit up.
I am happy to see more and more people sharing photos of their bodies proudly on social media; sharing their truth and opening up about the realities of body-shame. It normalizes the feelings of inadequacy, harsh self-criticism, and low self-esteem we all struggle with. It can also create a sense of collective healing as well as inspire others to seek self-love.
But, while there is value in this form of communication, body-positivity does not start and end with selfies and hashtags.
I'd like to bring up two main principles I've observed to be often missing, primarily from the mass-media friendly version of body-positivity. These are tenets integral to the continued growth and effectiveness of the movement.
#1) Body-positivity is about social justice and body EQUALITY.
It is foremost, through and through a social, political, and feminist movement.
The body-positive movement has to do with dismantling the structural inequities that deem some bodies more worthy than others. Body-positivity involves challenging the systems of oppression and social pressures that impinge upon our ability to exist in our diverse bodies. Take a look at racism, sexism, sizeism, fatphobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism. These are all forms of discrimination that ultimately boil down to... bodies.
Bodies that have been deemed inferior. Bodies that have not had access to basic human rights. Bodies that have endured trauma and internalized oppression. Bodies that face increased rates of danger, violence, and in far too many cases, death.
I believe we must first examine our own experiences with body based oppression, acknowledging our unique intersections and human experience. We must explore what those structural inequities are and how they've impacted our thoughts and behaviors both toward ourselves, and others.
Which brings me to #2.
#2) Body-positivity involves the acceptance of others.
The body-positive movement is inclusive. Don't lose sight of acceptance of others. Increase inclusion as you travel the joys and complexities of your own radical self-love journey.
Once we are aware of the intricacies of body-shame and the negative affects it has upon ourselves, we are given a choice. The ability to make a choice opens the door to freedom from the systems of body-based oppression. We are given the choice to think differently, behave differently, and act differently.
This begins with your thoughts. Be aware of and identify what programmed messages and biases pop into your head when you see or interact with various types of marginalized bodies. Consciously make the choice to change the way you think about (and therefore treat) other bodies into acceptance, respect, and compassion.
From the choice to change our indoctrinated thoughts about both our own and the bodies of others, the movement is fueled to grow and accomplish change. Change that creates space for ALL bodies to EXIST with equality, happiness, and respect.
"When we make peace with our body and the bodies of others, we will turn the world into a more copacetic and compassionate place."
- Sonya Renee Taylor (author, poet)