By Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani
Accepting Our Bodies as They are
“Life’s too short not to love every inch of yourself!” My social media feed and Explore page is filled with posts advocating for more body positivity and self-love — a sight that makes me both happy and worried. I’ve found that while these posts are intended to be encouraging, bombarding yourself with the idea that you must constantly feel positively towards your body is unrealistic and can be damaging.
It’s no secret that, for decades, the media has pushed idealistic and largely unattainable beauty standards, across all genders and ethnicities. Whether it be Victoria Secret Fashion Shows touting dangerously underweight models or protein powder ads with 8 pack abs on display, we’ve all been subject to these standards. This constant pressure has largely become the root cause for mental health issues and eating disorders affecting both youth and adults worldwide. Some days, I’ve woken up, looked in the mirror, and thought, “Huh, my nose is a little bit too big,” or “Yikes, I wish my face was more symmetrical,” and I know friends have experienced similar feelings.
The movement towards loving your body regardless of whether or not it matches the media’s “perfect body,” is a welcome sentiment. Though the idea started off simple — echoing the mantra of loving yourself — it has mutated into a host of influencers sporting plastic smiles and contorting their bodies to show off their perceived flaws. “See, we’re just like everyone else! We bloat throughout the day, and we still love our bodies during every second!” This constant positive preaching puts us into a black and white mindset: we’re either always repulsed by our bodies or we’re always unconditionally in love with them. And who doesn’t want the latter?
When I tried putting this positivity into practice, all I ended up doing was place myself in a vicious cycle. Though I’d start off my days with the intention of having no negative thoughts about myself, insecurity would creep in gradually. The damage done by years of internalizing unrealistic beauty standards makes it hard to transition immediately to constant body positivity. There will be highs and lows on the journey towards loving ourselves. So rather than punishing ourselves for not being body positive 24/7, we should redirect ourselves to body acceptance — accepting that this is our body, and it’s a functioning body that helps us move, learn, and live. We don’t have to tie our worth and value to being happy with our current appearance; we’re all work in progresses and accepting this fluctuation is crucial.
I appreciate the thought behind the body positivity movement, and I believe that its original intended message is something we can all benefit from. However, we don’t need to love our bodies ALL the time. It’s alright to have days where you feel insecure about your body, and those days don’t make your journey towards loving yourself any less valid.