Black bodies, like all other bodies, come in various shapes. We even come in different shades and sizes. Often when talking about being “body positive” we wonder “what does the term mean?” When the term started to become a cultural discussion about 5 years ago, various fashion brands were advertising clothes for plus-sized women. Female celebrities began calling out magazines for making their cover photos overly photoshopped. Then, women everywhere were celebrating their cellulite. It was a remarkable thing to witness. But now, the term seems to take on a more personal and introspective approach, other than fighting for your body type to be represented in the media. So what does body positivity mean today?
Body Positivity Doesn’t Mean Idolizing One Kind of Body
Let’s quickly go over what body positivity isn’t. Being body positive is not about wanting a specific kind of body. The thing with mass media is, more often than not, the “ideal” form of physical beauty is portrayed as a size two white woman. These kinds of images leave out women of color and diminish those women who are not of that size. In the end, they can make most women feel they’re not beautiful.
With the rise of the body positivity movement, women from all races combat that ideal. No one should be made to feel less than they are because they don’t fit into someone else’s standard. What the body positivity movement does is that it forces the masses to accept the fact that women come in various sizes, color, and shapes; they should all be shown in a beautiful light. There’s nothing wrong with being a size 2 but you are just as perfect being a size 12. There’s no such thing as the perfect body, so there’s no point in trying to attain a specific image to be accepted in anyone’s eye. If there’s a part of you that wants to change, do it only for yourself.
It’s About Accepting Your Own Body At Every Stage of Life
Women’s bodies go through many stages in life. Things like puberty, menopause, and childbirth have emotional and physical effects. Being body positive, as cliche as it might sound, starts within you. First, you have to accept your own body no matter what stage your body is currently at. Embrace it and feel great about it! When you do this, you will find yourself doing small things that make you feel even more comfortable because you will know what your body needs.
I use to feel insecure about my petite size. Being small chested and only 5″1, I always felt I wasn’t womanly enough (despite being 28!). It wasn’t until a few years ago, I started accepting these aspects of myself; ignoring what other people, especially men, think of me. I may never be tall enough to walk the runway but being petite is awesome! I wear clothes that fit my body shape to show the little curves I do have. I listen to my body’s needs by maintaining a balanced diet and exercising to keep my weight. Keeping a spiritual practice, like doing yoga, helps me to feel good on a soul level, which helps improve my external world.
It’s Also About Appreciating Other People’s’ Bodies
Being body positive also means appreciating other people’s bodies as well. As women, we are often pinned against each other, even within the black community. We need to remind people that not every black woman needs to look like Beyonce! Some black female bodies look more like Viola Davis, Oprah, or Octavia Spencer’s! The minute you learn to love your body for what it is, you’ll understand there’s no room for competition because everyone has their own battle. So when you see another woman, don’t envy her. Compliment her. We all think we have flaws but we’re all uniquely beautiful at the end of the day.