Love Your Body Week has ended (*frown*) but loving your body never should! Our last meeting was led by Women’s Center coordinator and power wom Theresa Eultgen!
So first we dissected mainstream media. Messages from the media about women’s bodies permeate almost every aspect of our lives. Beauty for women is defined by mainstream media as being white, cisgender, having long, straight hair, being very thin, being able-bodied, and conforming to gender norms.
Even when media is telling us we should love ourselves and every woman is beautiful, the underlying message is that only a certain kind of woman gets to feel that way. In advertising, folks can only love themselves and feel beautiful if they buy this product or follow that diet. Unapologetic and radical self-love does not exist in this media environment.
People who fall outside these extremely rigid and limiting standards of beauty are punished by society. Whether it’s in the workplace, the military, online, or internalized, people are constantly being told that their bodies are somehow wrong and in need of correction. This is just not true.
The concept of beauty is socially constructed. It has changed over time, it is subjective, and it is not a set-in-stone thing. We need an intersectional, all-encompassing view of body love. People of color, people with disabilities, trans and non-binary people, people with different body types are all beautiful and worthy of love and celebration.
We also need to change our ideas about health. Health and fitness are not the same thing. Is your body and all its organs functioning properly? Great, looks like you’re healthy. Fitness is a completely different concept, and it’s also one that can be very subjective.
Beyond this, we also need to look at mental health differently. Mental health is too often overlooked by society and even the medical community as invalid or less worthy of attention than physical health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and mental illness cannot be treated by simply trying harder. These toxic ideas stigmatize and shame those with mental illness and lead to insufficient treatment.
So how do we take steps toward loving our bodies? One thing you can do is celebrate the things your body can do. Did you get up this morning? That’s amazing! Did you walk to class? Great! Did you solve a problem, blog, play a game, use your mind? Awesome! Your body (including your brain) is capable of so many amazing things, and you should thank it for that.
Other steps to take could include:
- Critically analyzing the media we consume
- Forgiving ourselves for body negativity and working on positive self-talk
- Encouraging others, spread love and compliments
- Realize that someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own
- Nourish your body with good food and activity, even if that’s just stretching
- TREAT. YO. SELF.
You are wonderful and beautiful. Remember that.