Written by Lily Parikh, Account Executive
With the emergence of Social Media, there has been an emphasis on the importance of body positivity and representation. Between influencers, models, and regular everyday people, everyone is being criticized and critiqued more than ever on their physical appearance.
Throughout the years, different terms have been brought to light in regard to how to reference one’s view on their body, one being body positivity. Body positivity references the love someone has for their body in light of their size, skin tone, shape, gender, or abilities. This term emerged from the Fat Right’s movement in 1960, but with social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok, it has evolved even more.
However, more recently this ideology has been re-looked at, and with algorithms like Tiktok that give everyone a platform to speak up, people are realizing the detriment that these terms may have on someone physically and mentally. One of the problems is that the public is commending people for being ‘body positive’ when that was never their intention. For example, someone posts an unrelated video, such as ‘a day in my life,’ and they receive comments about how confident and body positive they are. While the comments seem harmless, it insinuates that their body type does not meet society’s standards. Another reason that this mindset is toxic is that it employs toxic positivity. Some may feel inclined to force their minds to feel something they don’t, and it critiques people solely based on their mindset which is a personal thing. According to Psychologist Susan Albers, “Body positivity wouldn’t even be needed if we appreciated and found all bodies inherently beautiful. Society is reflective of what our culture and environments teach us to believe — to dislike our bodies for so many reasons.”
With the public criticism of body positivity, there has been a new light shed on the concept of body neutrality. This is a more realistic and attainable mindset that is not toxic or formed based on societal standards. Body neutrality gets rid of all body judgment, both positive and negative, and focuses on appreciating and respecting your body for what it is and how it operates. It also reduces pressure to eat a certain way or exercise in excess, and rather than focusing on the outward appearance, it brings light to fueling your body from the inside by ensuring you are mentally healthy. An article written by The Washington Post, touches on what this would look like in practice, “What would settle well in my body? What would give me energy for the things I want to do? What’s going to taste good, and what’s going to nourish me?” The idea of not letting weight not define your worth is something many people struggle with, but through employing a body-neutral mindset, it is an achievable way to live.
Overall, social media has led the body movement through different waves, and it is still emerging and shifting daily to lift societal pressures and lessen the mental burden that so many face when looking in the mirror.