Body positivity doesn’t come naturally to me. When I log into my Instagram and see thousands of perfectly posed images of beautiful women, sporting perfect six packs, it certainly makes me feel a bit self conscious of my wobbly, slightly misshapen stomach. When I walk past magazine covers in supermarkets that are graced with beautiful women sporting flawless skin, it gets me a bit down about the blemishes, spots and large pores I’ve been battling with since having children. Body positivity isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but it is something that I work hard on each and every day.
I recently posted a photo on my Instagram of me at the poolside while in Bali, drinking a cup of tea. My hair was scraped up in a messy bun, I wasn’t wearing any makeup and I looked knackered from a lack of sleep. I faltered about posting it to be honest. I pulled apart every part of the photo and thought to myself, ‘Ugh, I look so ugly in that photo’. I then realised that I had just spent far too much of my time pulling apart how I look. I quickly realised that I would never say any of those things to another person and therefore should be more mindful of the messages that I give to myself. I noticed that while I often talk about boosting other people, other women up, I don’t always practice that in regards to myself. From that moment I decided that instead of letting my insecurities overpower me, that I would begin to accept them as a perfectly, imperfect part of me.
The thing is, the beauty industry as a whole works on creating insecurities and then selling a product to counteract those insecurities. From wrinkles to stretch marks, there is some form of product that is advertised as a ‘solution’ to the beauty ‘flaw’. When in the UK, I walk down the beauty aisles in shops to find myself faced with tanning products, because we are sold the idea that sun-kissed, bronzed skin is beautiful. Yet when I walk down the beauty aisles in Asia, I am faced with whitening products, because in Asia women are sold the idea that paler, whiter skin is beautiful. What is quite disconcerting though, is that a number of these completely different and opposing products are made by the same companies.
This difference in societal beauty standards across continents has really made me sit and think about what it means to be body positive. On one hand, I feel like I need to fight against the hypocrisy of it all, but then another part of me realises that my journey with body positivity is actually a lot less about the unattainable societal beauty standards and is more about being okay with the fact that I don’t always match them.
Body positivity for me, is about seeing the unique beauty of all women. It is about seeing our differences and celebrating them. Body positivity for me is about making a mental note about the negative thoughts I have of my own appearance and then overwriting them with a positive acceptance of my flaws. Body positivity is largely about self acceptance, but it is also about feminism and a connection to other women. Ultimately body positivity is about celebrating beauty in all of its unique and wonderful forms and that is why I will continue to work on it every, single day.