Welcome back! I hope you’re doing well. My family had a crazy busy weekend full of birthday celebrations that were incredible. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come together with friends (in person!) and celebrate; our kids all get along and play really well together, and it was just a really wonderful weekend. Totally filled my cup and, although I was hesitant to come into work Monday morning (hellooooooo June for a teacher!), I knew I was ready to take on this week and do what I gotta do.
Last week I touched a little bit on intuitive eating and, while I’d love to do a series of posts on that, I’m not quite ready for it. There’s a lot of reading and research to be done, and I really want to give intuitive eating the attention it deserves. Instead, I want to talk about something that I’ve seen popping up everywhere lately. Does that happen to you? You’ll see a post about something and think, “Oh wow, how interesting.” And then that’s all you see for days?! That’s what happened to me with today’s topic: body diversity.
We live in a time of “body this” and “body that.”
But what does it all mean, and which one should you really be paying attention to?
The answer to that question is entirely up to you, and I can’t tell you what to think or believe. But I do intend on outlining these ideas so you can make an informed decision.
Let’s start with body neutrality. Basically this mindset emphasizes decentralizing the body as an object and promotes accepting your body as it is. It’s important to recognize your body’s nonphysical abilities over the appearance of your body, and that your worth is not connected to your physical appearance. Basically, focus on what your body can do versus what it looks like. Accept what you have and celebrate what you’re capable of doing!
While I like the allure of body neutrality, I think this is a difficult mindset for anyone who is new to ditching diet culture. It’s hard to go from being obsessed with appearance to abandoning that entirely.
Next up is body positivity. This one emphasizes having a positive body image and loving your body for how it looks. According to Very Well Mind, “Some of the goals of the body positivity movement include: challenging how society views the body, promoting the acceptance of all bodies, helping people build confidence and acceptance of their own bodies, addressing unrealistic body standards.” So while body neutrality wants you to not really think about your body’s appearance at all, body positivity wants you to love and accept how you look.
Still following? These ideas are very nuanced and you might identify with some parts of each. That’s fine, it’s not an all-or-nothing kind of thing.
Finally, let’s talk body diversity. Body diversity debunks the idea that there is one “ideal” body type. That simply isn’t true. Humans are unique and our bodies are just as diverse. Although diet culture and our society have driven home a certain physique as being “better than” the reality is, some of us just can’t attain that “perfection.” And the big question I have is: why should we try?! Why should I want to look like someone who I’m not? Why shouldn’t I be happy with my body just as it is, with everything it has done. I’ve run hundreds of miles, lifted thousands of pounds of weights, lived for over 35 years, carried and delivered two healthy babies…the list goes on. Why on earth shouldn’t I celebrate all of that because I don’t fit into a mold made by someone else?!
The biggest issue with body diversity is that for it to work and become more mainstream, we need people to accept and love their bodies and for diverse bodies to be represented fully, in every aspect of life. This isn’t one “plus-sized” actress in a movie or embracing the Thor dad-bod, this is truly requiring diversity of all body types and abilities in movies, shows, all forms of media. BUT if that takes off and body diversity really picks up steam, where’s the downside? The only pitfall is for the diet industry, a $71 BILLION industry that preys on us hating our bodies and wanting to shrink ourselves in every way possible. Once we start including everyone in the narrative and we see that, in fact, people are very different and there is a nuanced spectrum of bodies in the world, we’ll be more well-equipped to appreciate our bodies and the role they play in the scope of diversity.
So, what do you do? Body neutrality, positivity, or diversity? Which horse do you bet on in this race? Honestly, that’s up to you and where you are in your life. I don’t think you have to pick only one; like I said, these ideals are nuanced and really blend together in a lot of places. What I do want you to do is take a minute and jot down the things your body does for you that you appreciate. Rather than obsessing over your weight or lack of celebrity-like physique, think of what your body has done that you should feel proud of. Let that drive you.
Until next time!