by Shravani Priya
I'm sure all of have those days where we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel less than good about our bodies. Now, this isn't a frequent enough occurrence that you feel horrible about the way you look, but it certainly makes you question whether you're practising body positivity. The truth is, its nearly impossible for anyone to feel good about ourselves ALL the time. So, on the days you don’t feel so good, what do you do? The answer is to that lies in body acceptance.
Now you might be wondering what body acceptance is, but you don’t need to worry, I’m here to explain it to you in the simplest of terms. Here it is: body acceptance is accepting your body as it is, the good and the bad. That’s it! Let me break it down for you a little more so that you don’t think I took the lazy way but rather understand what that small sentence means. We all have parts of ourselves that we love just as we have parts of ourselves that we don’t and that’s okay. What is important is that we acknowledge this and allow ourselves to be at peace with every part of ourselves. The idea doesn't imply that we constantly love every aspect of our physicality or that we can't change what we don't love. It does, however, entail that we save room in our thoughts for a certain degree of insecurities and a certain desire for change.
I’m sure you are thinking that body positivity already exists, so why is there a need for body acceptance? The answer to that is quite straightforward really, we as humans don’t function with an all or nothing ideology, which is what body positivity requires. It involves you loving every part of yourself, tirelessly for every moment of every day and it suggests that if you dislike something or have the desire to change it, then you don't have a positive outlook towards your physical appearance. The concept leaves no room for those "bad days" where you feel less than great. It also doesn't leave any place for bodily changes you might have to make due to health or instinctual reasons. Also, there is no space for the process of achieving body positivity, you’re either here or there. There are no grey areas and I for one don't like that because I have the right to change things about the way I look without being considered insecure!
So, how do you achieve body acceptance? There a few ways you can do that.
1. Intuitive Actions
This means that you engage in exercise habits or eating habits that make you feel good from the inside. If that means eating cleaner and actually working out, then that’s great! On the other hand, if it means doing less physical activity or not changing your daily practices, then that’s also great! You do what makes you feel good and what works for you, if changes occur in your physical structure, then it's okay.
2. Focus on health and not on the inches
I have heard of so many women who have faced hatred on social media for weight changes due to health reasons. They received many comments saying that people don’t connect with them anymore or that the women shouldn’t lose/gain weight to fit a societal standard or that they shouldn’t hate their bodies and change them. The truth was that these women changed the way they ate and their physical activities because they wanted to feel more energetic or
stronger and to reduce the risk of various diseases. Some women gained weight and some lost it and they felt all the better for doing that, both physically and mentally. They diverted their attention from the measuring tape and the weighing machine to their health.
3. Accept the in-betweens
There is a huge area of grey between body positivity and hatred. This area covers some insecurities anyone might have, their bad days, the areas they want to change or improve for various reasons and many other things. The grey areas need to be identified and acknowledged so that you spend less time thinking whether you’re body positive or not and more time in the process of accepting yourself. The road to body positivity is long, and may never be achieved by most, but that doesn’t mean that you spend time hating yourself for being in the process.
4. Change the narrative
This basically means changing the way you approach a conversation about your body. The conversation can be with anyone, including yourself. Instead of cruising the parts of your body, you don't like, focus on things you do like. You can also say that everything has parts that are good and not so good and that it's the combination of the two that makes things good. You can also simply acknowledge that while some parts of your body are not the way you want them to be, there can be little that can be done to change it, so acceptance is the way ahead.
Body acceptance is not something you can get to overnight; it will take time. But don’t be disheartened as most good things in life take a while to come. Don’t be too hard on yourself and leave room for thought so that it can be the catalyst for change to get you to a point in life where you don’t see your physical appearance as a limitation.