We Should All Be Body Positive Role Models | 1010 Park Place
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We Should All Be Body Positive Role Models

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I was recently introduced as a “Body Positive Influencer.” Whilst I know it was meant as a compliment, being described this way made me feel uncomfortable.

I’ve spent decades obsessing over my body and food and when I finally made peace with both and learned self-love, instead, I was tempted to bare my body and start shouting about how we all must love ourselves, just as we are. I believe that’s incredibly important, by the way.

However, one of the problems I had – and still have – with becoming a “Body Positive Influencer,” or activist, or ambassador, or whatever you want to call it, and aligning myself to what is now a recognized movement, is I felt at risk of replacing one obsession with another. Instinctively I knew I’d shift my obsession with changing my body and eating habits to obsessing over proving I love myself, belly rolls included. Also, I felt there’d be no room for change, and I’d actually have to maintain my curvier figure, otherwise I’d risk accusations of being a traitor to the movement.

I’ve confessed this before…I love my body now, but I still want to change it. Only these days that desire doesn’t come from a place of desperation – believing I’ll only be worthy if I reach a certain weight – it comes from a desire to be my fittest and healthiest self, for myself. There’s an enormous difference between the two, but I don’t feel there’s much room for this type of thinking within the body positive movement. There’s little room for a woman who loves her body but who can also be honest and admit she wants to change it. Yet a change made from a place of love, is the most powerful change of all.

These days if a woman admits she wants to change the body she’s got, it’s almost like she’s committing an act against feminism.

There are other things about the movement that make me feel uncomfortable. Let’s talk about the lack of diversity. Recognized influencers, activists and ambassadors come in similar body shapes and sizes. Whilst I admire the work of Taryn Brumfitt and Ashley Graham, they are typical, high-profile examples. The same thread runs though advertising campaigns by brands keen to cash in on the movement, yet these brands are being applauded simply because they didn’t use “regular” models.

Do you see what’s really happening here? Once more women are being told what the “ideal body” is under the guise of being “body positive.”

The aspect that disturbs me most however, is the way some body positive influencers encourage woman to love their bodies, whilst simultaneously trashing women who have bodies that don’t match their own or who want to change what they do have. When will women stop pitting one body type against another?

What if we all become body positive role models; leading by example through our attitudes, behaviors and values and encouraging all women to love their bodies rather than focusing on a certain type of shape, size and woman?

What if we support one another’s decisions, even if another woman’s choice for her body is different from our own?

What if we become brave enough to have difficult conversations about what we want to change and why, rather than trying to force acceptance? Maybe then we’ll actually get to the root cause of body image issues because we’ll finally be listening.

Even better, let’s go beyond viewing our bodies as being an entity detached from our heads, hearts and souls and start encouraging women to form a relationship and connect with it, to tune into their intuition and actually trust themselves.

Now that would be revolutionary.

The Pro-Body project is usually published fortnightly, but I’m taking a summer break, see you back here in September! And thank you so much for all your wonderful support this past year. 

You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “My Body Is Not A Project” here. Some of the most popular entries in the series are as follows:

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8 Comments

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 2, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Before you began this series, I’d never heard of the body positive influencers, or at least have it phrased that way. Doesn’t it seem as though there’s always someone ready to shake a finger at us no matter what we do? Perhaps I’m aging into a curmudgeon, but I’m less receptive to the message from people who judge and scold. I would hope women read your wonderful series and think about your experiences with dieting and body image and become inspired to find what works for them. Above all, let go of the judgement on ourselves and others. Frankly it makes me want to tune them all out. xoxox, Brenda

    • Reply Esther Zimmer August 14, 2017 at 2:55 am

      Brenda, if tuning out makes you an ageing curmudgeon, then so am I! These days the moment someone tries to shame me into acting or thinking a certain way, they’ve lost me. I truly believe the first and most important form of activism a woman can take, is deciding what’s right for her and what works for her and to embrace that, whilst accepting that we’re all different. Essie xxxx

  • Reply Shari Broder August 2, 2017 at 9:05 am

    SO well said, Esther. As a weight loss coach, I teach people that they have to love themselves and their bodies before they can lose weight and keep it off. I’ve lost 46 pounds and kept it off, and still want to lose more weight, but for the first time in many years, I truly love my body, sags and flab and all. We should all strive to be healthy, and not abuse our bodies. We only get one.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 2, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Yes!!! Congratulations on feeling good about your body! Have you read the rest of Esther’s series? She approaches “dieting” and body image from a unique direction. I think it’s brilliant. Brenda

    • Reply Esther Zimmer August 14, 2017 at 3:00 am

      Wow, Shari! Congratulations, 46 pounds is amazing! Most of all I simply love that you love your body just as it is, whilst acknowledging that you’d still like to lose more weight. I’m so happy there are women like you offering weight loss coaching and teaching people to love their bodies first and foremost. As you say, we only get one and we also only get one life, so losing precious time and energy hating our bodies is such a waste and gets us nowhere in the end. Thanks for commenting! Esther x

  • Reply Mamavalveeta03 August 3, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    I think we DO have to tune the negative voices out! Yes, there are magazines, advertisers, some feminists and even models who have differing opinions about what “body acceptance” actually means. I don’t think that debate about this subject is a bad thing, nor do I believe that there is only one correct opinion. I intend to decipher my own opinion based on voices I respect, health experts, and my own experiences.

    • Reply Esther Zimmer August 14, 2017 at 3:06 am

      You’re right, the debate isn’t a bad thing at all and with obesity rates rising, anyone who can get us to think more positively about our bodies is doing good work. Where I believe a lot of women get lost is forgetting that they can form their own opinion and decide for themselves what’s best for them (as you say, based on voices they respect, health experts and personal experience) – but from my experience, having talked to over 100 women and counting – very few think to question whether the messages they’re being fed actually ring true for them. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Esther xx

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