Hashtag “Body Positivity” – a movement that has made waves around the world in recent years. We live in a world in which many women feel under great pressure to achieve perfection. On Instagram & It seems that everyone has the perfect hair, the perfect skin, the perfect life and the perfect body. Even if somehow everyone knows that this is obviously an artificial illusory world from the right perspective, flattering light, a skillful pose, filters, Photoshop and other tricks, more and more women are still emulating these role models.
Body shaming must come to an end
The ideal of beauty has changed several times over the centuries, but there has always been a “right” or “wrong” for women. Anyone who was not plump in ancient Greece or the Italian Renaissance was not considered attractive. In the 1920s, women were suddenly “ideally” boyish and in the 1960s they were as slim as possible, following the example of the first supermodel “Twiggy”. Ten years earlier, the “perfect” woman was plump with a slim waist, similar to an hourglass, and around 1970 suddenly the desire was for healthy curves and sportiness. It is almost impossible to keep up with all these trends and so there were always a lot of women – yes, usually the majority – who did not have such an allegedly perfect figure.
And even today, not everyone has a bottom à la Kylie Jenner or the “thigh gap”. The result is not infrequently a form of “body shaming”. All the supposedly imperfect women feel uncomfortable in their skin, strive for unattainable ideals of beauty, maybe even risk their health in return or are hostile to other users on social media. “Body shaming”, be it passive in the sense of dissatisfaction with oneself or active, for example through nasty comments on the Internet, has become a major problem of our time and one of the reasons why more and more women – and men too – suffer from inferiority complexes due to their figure.
Almost every woman is dissatisfied with her body
The consequences that the focus on outward appearances and the risk of “body shaming” mean by now have reached enormous proportions: a total of 92 percent of German women are according to ÄrzteZeitung dissatisfied with her body. In the case of men, it is also almost 80 percent. For some, the shame goes so far that they are reluctant to show themselves naked in front of their partner. More than a quarter of women would have to pay up to 30,000 euros to make their problem areas disappear. This explains why the number of cosmetic surgeries is growing steadily at the same time.
What potential does “Body Positivity” have as a countermovement??
“Body positivity” is supposed to put an end to this development. Even if it is currently on everyone’s lips, it is strictly speaking not a new invention. Instead, the movement began as early as the 1990s and a look at the statistics showed the first successes at the turn of the millennium in terms of greater satisfaction among women and men with their bodies. Thanks to Instagram and other social networks, that changed quickly. The “body shaming” currently seems worse than ever before. The reason why “Body Positivity” is experiencing an upswing and made it into the established media for the first time in 2012 when SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE decided to stop airbrushing the models.
Further campaigns such as the banning of words like “Bikini Body” from WOMEN’S HEALTH or features with models for plus sizes in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED followed. In the Miss Teen USA election there is no longer a “swimsuit competition” and more and more influencers on platforms such as Instagram are deliberately deciding against processing their alleged flaws in their photos. Suddenly cellulite, or stretch marks, moles, rolls of fat and scars can be seen in the feeds that were so perfect up to now.
But what is “body positivity” really??
To a certain extent, the hashtag “Body Positivity” actually means a small revolution when it comes to the topics of body awareness and self-love. What sounds good at first glance has also been criticized more and more recently. Because the prejudices that prevail in our society persist. For example, obese people have to accept disadvantages in their professional life, as they are associated with attributes such as laziness or a lack of discipline. Unfortunately, a positive attitude doesn’t change that. These stereotypes won’t change in a matter of months or years due to a hashtag.
In addition, “body positivity” runs the risk of being used as a marketing tool and thus being misused to some extent. Many brands are using the hype to grab attention by, for example, stop retouching their models’ photos. A development that is beneficial. However, it remains questionable how long the good intentions will last when “body positivity” has become the new normal. The sustainability of the movement cannot currently be assessed. Between Instagram feeds, marketing tools & Co quickly gets forgotten about the real thing: It should be about feeling good in your body. This does not have to be the case every day and not always for 24 hours a day and does not mean that you cannot or do not want to change. But there should be some basic self-satisfaction. The keyword has already been mentioned: self-love.
A positive self-image does not rule out optimization
Some people are now trying to use “body positivity” again as a clue for “body shaming”. Suddenly it is no longer allowed to want to lose weight or to go to the gym, because that would inevitably mean a lack of self-love, right? Not correct! Loving yourself doesn’t mean not being able to optimize your body or lifestyle. Burn excess fat should be a goal for everyone for the sake of their own health and in combination with a mindful lifestyle, not just because of the external appearance. Instead, “Body Positivity” is about a holistic concept of life with the goal of self-love and self-respect for the benefit of one’s own (mental) health – being yourself, being healthy, being happy. So it is much more than “just” a hashtag!
Pixabay.com / jill111, StockSnap
Unsplash.com / rawpixel, Court Prather, Laura Marques, Sharon McCutcheon