The Body Positivity Movement: healthy or harmful? – the Gauntlet
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The Body Positivity Movement: healthy or harmful?

The Body Positivity Movement has become a point of controversy. Which side will you take?

September 22, 2020

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The BPM is here to stay

The Body Positivity Movement has helped people become more confident in their bodies and reformed societal views.

The Body Positivity Movement encourages people to embrace the body they were born with.  The objective is to promote self-esteem, self-love, and self-confidence.  And while the Body Positivity movement can be seen (by some) to be “unhealthy” because it doesn’t focus on achieving a physically fit body, it focuses on mental health, which is just as important. I have struggled with my body image before and as I started to understand this movement, I began to feel more confident about myself, and you can too.

A common misconception is that the Body Positivity Movement focuses on encouraging people with unhealthy bodies. But this isn’t the case. Every single person is different and has different physical qualities, so assuming that someone is “unhealthy” because of their body type can be dangerous.

With the growing awareness of and spread of mental health issues (eating disorders, included) we must learn as a society to accept ourselves and others. We cannot tell someone that their body should look a certain way because of unrealistic norms (particularly those created in the media).

If someone has a health issue, it’s up to their doctors to discuss it with them as opposed to unsolicited health advice or expectations from others, as people have less control over their health than you would think.

“Body positivity is about accepting and being confident in your body for what it is.””

— Sydney Henry

As a society, we’re constantly getting more and more knowledgeable about the impact of genetics on physical body attributes and mental health afflictions. The results are in— genes have incredibly powerful impacts on body weight (there are 400 genes that have been implicated in obesity) . If someone is born with genes that lead to a slower metabolism, they are going to struggle with their weight. That is something that is far more difficult to change than once was thought.

The same goes for mental health issues like depression.

The bottom line is you don’t know what people go through, and you don’t know their genetic makeup, so you have no right to judge or concern yourself with how they look. The Body Positivity Movement is about self-love. It is about looking within oneself and regaining that power and self-assurance that so many have been robbed of from years of societal judgment. The movement has changed the way many people see themselves.

The movement has also changed the standard of beauty. There is no longer the set beauty standard of the “tall, skinny, beautiful girl” or the “tall, muscular boy.” The world is now starting to accept everyone, and companies have begun creating and marketing  clothing to fit realistic body standards.

Thus body positivity has been an uplifting movement that has helped change many industries for the better.

The Body Positivity Movement isn’t about promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, or lowering the standards of health and motivation. It is about promoting who you are, how you look, and how you should feel.

I, personally, have been body-shamed, and so I feel very passionately that people need to embrace this movement and learn to love and respect everyone. This movement is trying to heal the wounds that have kept people from loving themselves.

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The BPM has got to go

The Body Positivity Movement gives the impression of positivity and love, but in reality it is detrimental to individuals and society

Recently, I have come to a realization about the Body Positive Movement. Put simply, it isn’t as great as people make it out to be. In reality, the movement is detrimental to the physical and mental health of individuals who might feel insecure about their image. In fact, it accomplishes the exact opposite of what the alleged goals are.

The Body Positivity Movement is a movement that focuses on self-love and reforming societal views on body image. BPM’ers believe that all bodies are beautiful just the way they are. In an effort to spread positivity, they promote this message through social media and other platforms.

Although a noble cause, this campaign may prove to be more harmful than helpful. I believe that it is necessary to redefine Body Positivity as a whole, focusing more on motivating individuals to improve themselves rather than pushing for mere acceptance.

Loving yourself is important. I could never expect someone to look in the mirror and sneer in disgust at their appearance. That doesn’t necessarily mean that people should accept something that they can change, though.

I completely understand self-acceptance when it comes to inalterable characteristics. If there’s nothing you can do about it, don’t sweat it. But, if you can do something, go for it! Why would you settle when you have the power to better yourself?

“Love yourself, no matter what you look like” seems to be the motto of this movement. Despite the positivity of this message, there are some very negative consequences that inevitably come with it.

For example, the main target of this movement appears to be those who are considered overweight. If loving yourself means that you shouldn’t do anything to change your body, then this movement is essentially telling those with an unhealthy lifestyle to keep up their bad habits. In case you don’t think that being overweight is a problem, here are some health issues that can result from obesity and weight problems from the CDC.

Now, here’s something that I think has been majorly overlooked concerning this topic: the Body Positivity Movement actually deflates individuals instead of empowering them. The way I see it, this movement is telling people that they don’t have the potential to look the way they want to, so they might as well get comfortable with their appearance.

Apparently, society sets “unrealistic expectations” for what the human body is supposed to look like. Is being trim, toned, and healthy unrealistic? Yes, it can be difficult to make healthy choices, but not impossible. This campaign is demotivating people by telling them that they don’t have the ability to improve. It’s too difficult to look the way you want to and you’ll never be able to do it, so you should just accept yourself and give up. Shouldn’t we be boosting people’s confidence, letting them know that they can look however they want if they’re motivated enough to live a healthier lifestyle? I guess not.

Instead of spouting fake positivity that may have damaging effects or unintended consequences, these organizations should be spreading the message of self-improvement and encouragement. Tell those who are unhappy with their bodies that they are more than capable of achieving their goals. Let them know that if they feel this way, they can gain the confidence they so desperately need and live the life that they desire.

On top of that, provide people with the opportunities to reach these goals. For example, fitness programs, guides to a healthier lifestyle, wellness counselors to offer assistance and reassurance, and in general, a chance for people to help themselves.

Don’t just strive for acceptance, strive for improvement. Don’t tell people that they can’t do something, tell them that they can.

The Body Positivity Movement is going in the wrong direction, and if they really want people to feel good about their appearance, they need to change course. For someone to truly love themselves, they need to look in the mirror and see someone who they want to be, not someone who they can tolerate.

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