Body Positivity & Empowerment

Aren’t you tired of hearing from the same-old, run-of-the-mill body positivity enthusiasts that relentlessly keep telling you to LOVE YOURSELF? So much so that you don’t even know what it means anymore? That somehow the sugarcoat-y term “body positivity” in itself seems to be targeting the marginalised, less-than-ideal body types that society-didn’t-conventionally-celebrate but are doing so now in the spirit of inclusivity. 

     (Image Credit: 15 Body Positivity Memes That Will Make You LOL For Days)

It has come to a point where all you know is that you’re supposed to love your curves - even though they aren’t ever in the right places; every rough, jagged edge, your flaws and your scars - all as part of who you are - but what people don’t seem to realise is that we need to stop romanticising self-love. None of us were born a supermodel, yet we’ve been exposed to media-defined stereotypes of beauty being perpetuated as “skinny” and “flawless”; and by contrast, every other body type that isn’t skinny and flawless has to learn to be okay with themselves.  

Body positivity thus stems from an inherent sense of lacking, from feelings of inadequacy which is constantly fuelled by our incessant use and reliance on social media. Ultimately, if we really had it all, would we constantly need to remind ourselves that we are enough in all that we already are?

Probably not.

As such, within this collective ocean of doubt, we are faced with a universal, yet extremely personal struggle of being able to live with our flaws, insecurities and all the other things we dislike about ourselves.  

Stories about high fashion models having to adhere to unrealistic standards of beauty are no longer breaking news, despite changing attitudes of skinny no longer being the only indicator of beauty. 

(See: Ali Michael sent home earlier than expected from the Balenciaga fashion show in Paris, for being supposedly “too fat”.)  

Yet, champions of the “plus sized” community don’t exactly have it easier too; with models like Ashley Graham receiving heavy backlash for losing weight and seemingly conforming to societal standards of beauty.  So as long as you live for the eye of the Other, you simply can’t please everyone.

(Image Credit: Instagram @bodypositivememes)

It is however inevitable that we subject ourselves to scrutiny due to the way in which we interact, communicate and socialise - the compliments that we give each other in casual conversation, are often, in relation to one’s physical attributes.  We’re so used to hearing people, especially other women, tell us things like “Nice Outfit!” or “You look so good today!” while compliments about our intellect or personality seem much harder to come by. It’s no wonder that a part of us will always feel preoccupied with the way we look in front of other people.

The desire to look good, and hence feel good, comes from within, yet, we inevitably derive pleasure from external validation. Compliments are meant to feel good. Just as insults are meant to hurt. When we don’t feel all that great about ourselves, our self-awareness becomes our defence mechanism and we turn to self-deprecation as a means of coping.  We’re quick to be critical about ourselves before anyone could get to us. If you made an announcement that you were having a bad hair day, no one is then going to point out that your hair’s kinda messy today. In fact, they might not even have noticed until you pointed it out.  We’re somehow wired to think that everyone’s going to notice this huge, oh-so-conspicuous pimple on our nose and that we should point it out before they make a comment about it, as a way of protecting ourselves. (See, it probably isn’t that huge.)

We are inevitably tied to the way in which others perceive us. We’re so hyper-aware of our own flaws so much so that we assume people are scrutinising us down to the pore of every imperfection.  In this day and age, it seems almost as though our self-worth is made of glass. So we’ve learnt to develop a literacy of self-effacement to which our language becomes a proxy to protect our egos that bruise all too easily; and as such, we subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) impose the harsh, critical eye of the Other onto ourselves. 

(Image Credit: Twitter @rachelPLZdotcom)

So how do we learn to accept ourselves in a culture where body shaming has become so second-nature to us, where the ideal of self-love is ever so elusive? 

Perhaps it’s in the language we use, in the way we speak.  

And perhaps a little awareness, a little mindfulness in the way in which we speak of ourselves could go a long way.  After all, you could be petite, plus-sized, or somewhere in between, but as long as you’re seeing yourself through the eyes of the Other - you’ll still feel unhappy with the way you are.  Either way, you’ve only one body which holds a very precious life and perhaps the best thing left to do is to learn to love it.

(Image Credit: Instagram @bodypositivememes)

Let’s start with the way in which we communicate with each other.  So today, before you very instinctively compliment someone on their appearances, consider choosing from this list of Non-Appearance Related Compliments:

(Image Credit: Instagram @bodypositivememes)

By Cheryl Tan
Pursuing my dreams of being a content creator 'cause my horoscope told me to.