Body positivity is not just for the ones you expect

The more I talk about body positivity, the more I come to realize one thing: body image affects far more people than you realize.  Because body image can feel so personal and vulnerable, we tend not to share it with others and that secrecy only increases the feelings of shame.  When we keep quiet about it, we feel more and more alone with it, convinced we are the only ones who feel like this. And yes, each of our personal journeys is unique to us, but when you actually start talking about this it becomes clear that so many people have had their own struggles with their body image.  

And it’s not just the ones you might expect.

For starters, women, we do not own the market on body image issues.  Men are much less likely to bring it up in conversation, but I have had enough men reach out to me to know that it’s far more common than you might expect.  On that note, when it comes to talking about running shirtless, so many times I have heard women say “Yeah because men don’t care what they look like, they run without shirts all the time!” I get this stereotype, but to assume all men are fine with how their bodies looks discounts a lot of valid feelings out there.  The next time it’s a hot day and you know it would be more comfortable to run shirtless, I challenge you to take note of the men who keep their shirts on. Because it’s a lot of them. They feel a lot of pressure to fit in just like women do, and they need our sensitivity on the topic just as much as women.

Your “skinny” friends or the ones that seem so effortlessly beautiful?  That doesn’t inoculate them from feelings of insecurity either. Regardless of what their journey has been, I guarantee you they receive their fair share of comments about their appearance.  I know it’s easy to assume all compliments are good, but so often those compliments still boil down to an emphasis on the importance of appearance, diminishing all other qualities in a person.

People older than you, younger than you, stronger or weaker, bigger or smaller, male or female, cis or many of us are working with body image issues to some extent.  And so many of us could benefit from some genuine body positivity. The kinds of messages that go beyond saying “everyone is beautiful” and instead remind us that human bodies are diverse and wonderful in all their variations.  The kinds of messages that remind us that our value is not dictated by our appearance and that we are so much more. The kinds of messages that let us know we’re not alone in this, that it’s ok to not like everything about our bodies, we can still like ourselves.

Jessie BarnesComment