"To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are."
We are a generation that’s grown up consuming glossy fashion magazines for lunch and some more fitspo on Instagram for dinner. Our culture is seemingly obsessed with washboard abs and skinny waists that seem too good to be true. These perceived ideals of beauty have taken over our lives, so much so that nutrition and being fit have almost always been ignored.
While a majority of people still gape at airbrushed models on social media, there is an alternative movement that has surfaced alongside – The Body Positive Movement. You could call it a buzzword of sorts, but there’s much more here than meets the eye. For a lot of people, body positive only translates to embracing your body in whatever shape and size it comes. Yes, there’s no denying that this movement propagates self-love, but it comes with a rider - it is about how you care, respect, and connect with what your body needs. It is common for your body to change its shape in myriad ways throughout your life, but what’s important is to disconnect from a particular body image and accept it in all its form.
Body Positivity and Nutrition
The biggest myth that exists in society is how a skinny waist and good health go hand in hand. For many young girls, it’s about starving and skipping their meals to achieve a certain body image, because skinny has always been associated with beautiful. While shattering this myth will take some time, it is important to shift the spotlight on nutrition and fitness.
Our relationship with food has largely been complicated. Eating for health has never really been at the top of our minds – either it has been to endure emotional pain or about losing weight. We’ve heard this time and again – a healthy diet and lifestyle impacts our mood, energy levels, concentration and of course, builds immunity. What we have done all this while is lay emphasis on external appearance rather than build a healthier lifestyle. The result – unhealthy diet patterns, low immunity, crashing energy levels, and insomnia.
Obsessing about calories, carbohydrates, fats is certainly not healthy eating. Stressing over every morsel you eat makes meal times an unpleasant experience and can ruin your relationship with food. This is where body positivity kicks in. It is about making food choices that nourish your body, mind and soul; it is about overall well-being from the inside, not just the outside. It is about building strength and immunity, without comparing your body with someone else’s.
Take the leap
It isn’t uncommon to hear women starving themselves and skipping meals only to stuff their faces with fat-laden food later during the day. Add to it, fleeting feelings of guilt, shame, anger, frustration, and you have a recipe for a dysfunctional relationship with food. This is primarily because we consider our bodies unworthy of love and the numbers on the scale are all we care about. It’s time we change this attitude and take that much-needed leap towards celebrating our bodies.
While it may sound easier than done, begin by developing a healthy relationship with food. First of all, remember food is for pleasure, not therapy. It is about associating what’s on your plate with health, and this needn’t be about weight loss. Relish every morsel without thinking of piling on those calories and sooner or later, your body will thank you. One golden rule: eat fresh, eat local. Believe it or not, it will give you unimaginable sensory pleasure as well!
There’s another problem – most of us tend to categorize food either as healthy or tasty, and it’s rare to combine the two words in a single sentence. While applying moral attributes to food is fine, bracketing them into boxes again triggers unpleasant memories at meal times. Of course, it is great to gorge on those fresh fruits and vegetables for lunch, but that chocolate bar once in a while does not hurt. Moderation is key, after all. Do not punish yourself for an indulgence, in case you go overboard. Those guilt trips aren’t worth it!
Lastly, your body is your body; nourish it your way. There will be all kinds of theories put out on social media, but you know what’s best for you. Beauty standards will always change, but what remains is how you love, care, and respect your body. After all, body positivity means doing whatever is right for YOU and your journey. And it’s certainly much more than the number on that scale!
Geetika Sachdev (Author)