Body Positivity: The Beauty Industry and What SHOULD Be Important

There’s been a change going on in the world—and I want to see more of it. I am all for body positivity. I feel like I need to say that up-front. The world has too many messed up ideals that it forces into people’s minds about bodies and appearances.

We have to be a certain size, a certain body weight, in order to be deemed attractive.
We must have the perfect face, the perfect teeth, the perfect wardrobe.
And people have become so obsessed with these things, their effort to achieve them is also costing them their health.

This mentality drives me crazy, as I know it must do to others as well. I’ve been victim to the “looks and body perfection” ideal. I have had self-esteem issues due to my looks and my weight throughout my life. And I’m tired of it. Seeing reminders that bodies aren’t defined in their value, worth, or health by just weight alone has been reassuring—though I admit I can still get trapped in the “I’m not thin enough” mentality. And I’ve grown more confidence and resilience in my looks as I’ve gotten older as well; that feels like an accomplishment in and of itself.

But the Body Positivity movement seems like it can be somewhat clouded by different ideas regarding looks and bodies. So, I felt like writing down some of my own ideas regarding Body Positivity and what I personally think it should be about. But, first, let’s chat about the beauty industry.

Perfection is a Scam

We’re all subconsciously being told what we need to look like. From Victoria Secret models walking down the runway to the Chris Hemsworth’s half naked Thor. And each of these is plastered on everything we consume: TV, film, magazines, the media. We are overwhelmed with it. And when we constantly see it, it makes us think this is normal. It makes us believe that we should be striving for this—this “ideal”, this “perfection”.

The beauty market is designed to make you insecure. We all know this, don’t we? We’re constantly being marketed products that will fix all of our problems.

But:

It’ll never work. Because there will always be something that makes you unhappy. The second you get your body looking the way you wanted it to, the standards will change. The goalposts will move.

Part of this is because each generation likes different things, and our standards of attractive change. But a lot of it comes back to the beauty industry, which is just here to make money.

So long as we’re tied to this mindset of “the perfect body and appearance”, we’re essentially brainwashed. We need to overcome this in order to move forward in a better, healthier way.

What Body Positivity Should Mean

In my time hanging out on the internet, I feel like I’ve seen several ideas on what Body Positivity is and should be about. So, instead of arguing them, I’m just going to use my corner of the internet to write about what I personally think Body Positivity should be about.

And I think it needs to be a combination of things, which I’ll expand upon below. But a summary of what I think it needs to be: a combination of love, understanding, education, and continued improvement.

To me, Body Positivity has to include loving yourself, your body, and your looks just as they are. Because without that, you’ll stay stuck in a negative space regarding yourself forever.

But Body Positivity has to also include effort to improve yourself: your health and your well-being overall. Because I feel loving yourself doesn’t just include treating yourself to the pleasures and joys in life; it means disciplining yourself now and then and making sure you do the things that your body and mind need to stay healthy.

So, let me go into those a little bit more down below.

Take Care of Yourself

This seems obvious, right? Plain and simply: take care of your body. You only get one.

When I say this, I don’t just mean do all the things you want to do. Don’t overdose on all the sweet treats, soft drinks, while watching Netflix. Doing that now and then is okay—all things in moderation.

But do things that your body needs.

Eat the right food: your fruits, your vegetables, the stuff that helps your body. It can still be tasty, but we all know constantly eating fast food isn’t helping our health.

Drink water: I love my coffee too, and I do treat myself to a full-fat Coke every once in a while. But the water is what my body needs. Human beings are made up of mostly water! We all need to be drinking more of it than we do.

Exercise: a lot of people hate that suggestion, but our bodies are meant to be moving. They’re not meant to be as stationary as they’ve become. So, find some form of exercise that you genuinely enjoy doing, and make sure you do it a few times a week.

Push yourself to do these things now and then if you know you need to do them, and you’ve been ignoring them.

But also: know yourself and your well-being enough to know when it’s TOO much. In the effort to achieve the perfect body, some people go overboard on exercise. This equally isn’t healthy. Sometimes, we do need to do nothing; chill out, relax, and just be.

Find the right balance. Taking care of yourself has to mean finding a balance between pleasure and discipline when it comes to our bodies.

No Negative Comments

There’s just no need for it, really. Your body does SO much for you. More than you realize. You don’t need to be making negative comments about it. So what if you gained a little weight on holiday? Your body still carries you, keeps your heart and brain going, and ensures you’re still healthy. You can return home and start working on losing the weight if you want.

But your value and worth as a human being didn’t change because you gained weight. So, don’t talk about yourself like it did. Don’t tie your validity up with your body. Doing that is exactly what the beauty industry wants: because if your worth is directly linked to your looks or your weight, the second you find something you don’t like, you’re now a customer.

Just remove the negative comments about your own body and looks. You can want to change, but the negativity doesn’t need to be associated to it.

And while I’m at it, this goes for other people’s bodies as well. It’s not just ourselves we’re being negative about; it’s other people. And they don’t deserve it either. Because for the most part, none of us know what anyone else has going on in their lives. So, snap judgments about why a person looks the way they do almost always ends with the judge looking like an ass.

Just don’t do it.

Don’t Make Decisions for Others

You do not get to dictate what other people do with their bodies. So, stop trying to have that weight in their life.

If someone wants to have body hair, that’s their decision. If someone doesn’t want body hair, that is also their decision. You can’t tell them what YOU want them to do with their body; their body is not yours. And what works best for you might not work best for them.

I say this even if you are someone’s partner. You can have an opinion about what your partner does with their body, and they might take it into consideration, but it’s ultimately not up to you what they do with their body.

To use the body hair example again: if you like your partner to be shaved, but your partner doesn’t want to shave, you don’t get to tell them to shave. You can discuss your preference with them, but their body and what they do with it isn’t your right. And if it’s that important to you, you can choose to not engage with them or even leave.

But their body, their choice.

And I mean that beyond relationships too. Parents don’t get to tell their kids “no tattoos” once their kids are independent. Church members shouldn’t be shaming their people for who they have sex with—because it’s, quite frankly, none of their business. And if your sibling wants to dye their hair blue, but you think it looks dumb, it doesn’t matter.

Their life, their rules.

Be Realistic

Bodies are different. They come in all shapes and sizes. But there’s also a lot of similarities. Be understanding of the difference and the similarities alike. And when you’re not sure of something, research it. Even if you are sure of something, consider researching it.

I still see too many men who do not understand their girlfriend’s period. And it’s very hard to be realistic or even consider what she’s going through when you don’t understand the menstrual cycle. So, research. Learn a little better how it works. Ask her about her own individual experiences. Find out if there is something she would like you to do or understand about her cycle. Understand that it’s a sensitive time, and each woman handles and experiences her period differently. If a previous girlfriend had a different experience with her cycle, that doesn’t mean that your current girlfriend is wrong or lying. Be realistic and understanding of the differences of experience.

Similarly, a person’s body size doesn’t indicate health. Someone who is thin can be unhealthy, while someone who appears overweight can be in good health.

Be realistic about your own expectations about another person’s body: you don’t know what any individual is going through, nor do you know the full scope of their health. So, you don’t have the right to make those snap judgments.

Final Thoughts

In terms of our bodies and our looks, the world constantly seems against us. With big corporations eager to sell us the next product that will bring us one step closer to perfection, while constantly moving the goalposts to perfection, we’re never going to win.

At least, not against that, we won’t. Instead, the best solution seems to be embracing ourselves, our imperfections, and the beauty that comes from our individuality. Beauty shouldn’t be about what corporations or the brainwashed masses have come to believe signifies true beauty; it should come from our own individual uniqueness, as cheesy as it sounds.

And I think Body Positivity should be both about accepting our own unique beauty as it is, while also incorporating a better outlook on taking care of ourselves.

I’ve always thought life needs to be about balance. I feel the same way here. Love and embrace your body and looks as they are—now, today—but also make sure you discipline yourself with regards to what your body needs to be healthy. Find a healthy dose of pleasure and healthy activities—for going to the extreme on either end won’t do us good. That is not only the secret to being positive about your body and looks, but the way to ensure longevity as well.

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