You probably recognize these hashtags from social media. Often attached to pictures of men and women celebrating their unfiltered, un-Photoshopped bodies, they promote loving your figure and eschewing society's restrictive definition of what and who is considered beautiful.
Sounds great, right?
After being inundated every day with messages that we should eat less and exercise more in order to transform into the skeletal models or impossibly toned athletes we see in magazines and on television, it seems we could all benefit from a movement that promotes loving our bodies just the way they are.
But I have a bit of a bone to pick with the body positivity movement.
Why is body positivity not the answer? In essence, because we are so much more than our bodies.
You may be thinking, What’s her issue? What’s so wrong with loving my body? And I want to clarify by saying — absolutely nothing.
If you love your body, that's amazing and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you. But, at the same time, it’s just a body.
Don’t get me wrong, our bodies do some pretty incredible things. We wouldn't be able to drink that nourishing green smoothie or hug that loved one without them. But these are things our body does and they have nothing to do with what it looks like.
Your outer package is an amazing miracle, but it's secondary to the truly amazing creation that is you.
I can guarantee that "her abs and toned shoulders were magnificent,” or “her curves were out of this world, truly a sight to behold” won't be written on your tombstone.
So, rather than focusing on figure, I'm suggesting that we all start celebrating these aspects of ourselves a bit more:
1. What can you do?
Appreciating function over form will allow you to focus on how your legs transport you from one spot to another — no matter how many stretch marks you have or how many spider veins weave intricate webs over your calves.
2. What makes you great?
Are you kind, generous, determined, confident, loving, empathetic, spontaneous? People often take these traits for granted. But they're the reason your friends love hanging out with you, and why you got that amazing reference letter from your boss. Your defined thighs and toned shoulders had nothing to do with it.
3. What have you done that you're proud of?
Did you climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Stand up to the bully at work? Provide a meal to a family in need? I know that fitness goals like losing weight and hitting the gym can fall into this category, but they're often just by-products of much more important lifestyle shifts. Rather than focusing on the last 15 pounds you have to lose, be proud that you’ve incorporated healthy habits into your life by eating more vegetables and improving your strength.
You’re magnificent, and your appearance is such a small piece of the package.
Photo Credit: Selma-Rachel Swire for mbg creative