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No More Body Positive BS

We are sold a lot of bullshit when it comes to body positivity and I am OVER it. Part of what I believe can make social media so dangerous for women, young and old, is because of the mixed messages about body confidence and positive self-image. A lot of what is sold as body confidence is in fact a contradictory message. In one breath someone may proclaim body confidence and then turn around and bombard their social media with images showing them photo shopped, changing their body to meet a ‘societal standard, posting only ‘perfect’ photos, and/or marketing extreme diets or cleanses. How can anyone really learn how to be body confident with such a mixed message? And in a society where we are bombarded more than ever through social media with images of opposing ideas we need to align to reach a much healthier state when it comes to our bodies.

We all have insecurities, there is no doubt about that, and being a female is not easy. We too often have a feeling of constant scrutiny to look a certain way and to maintain that all the time. So when those claiming body confidence are also doing extreme things to look better, it is a terrible and confusing message. A message that is saying in order to be body confident you have to have this mythical ‘perfect body’. In order to be happy with your body you have to look a certain way. Convincing us that happiness with our bodies comes only from changing them. We are not teaching young women to love what they are now. Or reminding them that every body is valuable and worthy of love, regardless of size or appearance. We are not convincing them that there is no such thing as a perfect body. We are definitely not encouraging healthy bodies by encouraging extreme measures. In fact portraying those as the answer to a happier and healthier body to the social media masses is much more likely to cause adverse effects for young females (and really all of us). Ones that have the potential to lead to harmful behaviors such as disordered eating.

During my career I have been surrounded by female athletes who scrutinize every calorie they take in because the message being relayed to them by society is ‘less is more’. They have no idea how they are failing their bodies and athletic abilities by not consuming enough calories. I have had more conversations than I care to count that involved dangerous eating behaviors. So many of these talks come back to the photo shopped images, the altering of looks, or the extreme diets. These women who sell body confidence and then go to extreme measures to chase the ‘perfect body’ are really profiting on inducing insecurity and fear in women. Maybe what is most disheartening is that these smart, beautiful women are still buying in to society’s pressure and in turn teaching others to do the same. Whether they mean to or not they are perpetuating the dangerous behaviors they have been taught, passing them on to the next generation, and continuing a vicious cycle.

Confidence in one’s body is not about living up to anyone else’s standards. And it is not about selling dangerous behavior to others. Chasing the ‘perfect body’ will not bring higher confidence; in fact it is more likely that constantly chasing the unattainable will bring poor self-esteem by never feeling like enough. The message has to change. Body positivity is not just about loving our own body but encouraging other women to love theirs as well. We need to take responsibility for how our message affects those who follow us. We need more real and completely unapologetic images. We need to see cellulite, rolls, bad hair days, no makeup days, and images that are not photo shopped. We need to stop convincing females that they can always be better. The true message of self-confidence has to be about teaching girls to love who they are and showing them healthy behaviors. It needs to be about real body confidence, the kind that can’t be sold or bought, but rather comes when we learn to embrace our real selves and unapologetically share that with others.