Body positivity celebrates bodies that don't conform to the common ideal of beauty. That's good, that's important – and yet not quite as simple as it sounds.
Who is more beautiful: Ashley Graham or Lena Dunham? Selena Gomez or Pink? You or me?
If it were up to the Internet movement Bodypositivity, that would no longer matter. With bodypositivity, we are all beautiful, each in our own way, with all the flaws we carry around with us. Images of less than perfect bodies on social media have long been more than due, I think. That's why I stand up for this movement, even if it has weak points (sic!).
"Thanks to Bodypositivity, we are all beautiful, each in our own way with all the flaws we carry around."
I can't hear it anymore: My best friend thinks of herself being to overindulgent and clearly too flabby with a BMI of 21. An acquaintance said to me at a New Year's Eve cocktail party that she had put on two kilograms and now had a huge tummy. Another friend no longer comes out to party since the birth of her daughter, saying she did become fat and could no longer show herself looking like that. And when I talk to young women between 15 and 20, practically all of them think they're too fat.
There's something going wrong!
We women quite often believe that we are more lovable when we are thinner or have a well-trained body. What's even more crazy: We often prefer compliments about our looks and bodies than a praise for good performance – and all of this in times of emancipation. It's quite possible that all the images of half-naked and trained women's bodies that we encounter every day on social media, in movies or especially looking down on us from an ad, are to blame for this.
Or that this gave rise to a mania for the need to optimize ourselves. Is this the result of patriarchy or our upbringing? I don't know. I am not a psychologist or sociologist, I only observe what is happening around me.
"We women quite often believe that we are more lovable when we are thinner or have a well-trained body."
In the meantime, for example, many of the women around me follow a special diet: gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, Atkins, 10 weeks Body Change, the Chrono Diet – you name it. At the lunch table in the office or over coffee with other moms, people chat about abdominoplasty, fasting, detox vacations or even boot camps.
One thing that became very clear to me is that this craze can't be healthy. Not for us. And not for our children. That's where the body positivity movement comes in handy.
I've seen too much
In any case, I'm saturated with all the naked, shapely butts and smooth, flat bellies. I'm bored by it and it makes me sick. We are sold false happiness by the minute. Teenagers my son's age (17) are suggested on Instagram every day: if you're beautiful, you're successful. Whoever is thin or muscular is popular. These students actually believe that the more likes they get for a photo, the more recognition and success they will reap in real life.
"There is an urgent need for diversity instead of uniformity and reality instead of perfectionism, also in social media."
The "bodypositivity" movement is perhaps a first step on this path to more tolerance and self-esteem. On Instagram and Twitter, we suddenly see everything but pure perfection under #bodypositivity: mummy bellies with overstretched skin, women with very small, medium and huge breasts, with cellulite or dark circles under the eyes, girls bald or gray hair and porcelain skin, with huge bottoms or those with very flat butts.
We see men with sagging bellies or pale chests, people in wheelchairs or with prostheses. Teenagers with braces or skin eczema. This does not free our society from today's ideal of beauty, but it does provide a bit of relief for a brief moment.
For us, our mothers and for our teens. Especially since such photos are more interesting and varied than the standardized bodies we are usually shown.
Not everyone is that optimistic. "Bodypositivity" has recently attracted a lot of criticism; journalists smell double standards and think that this movement is also all about self-promotion.
Here, too, only the most beautiful (i.e. the best-shaped or most well-proportioned) are popular. The followers talk themselves blemishes beautifully and demand that everyone finds everyone attractive. Others criticize that being overweight is harmful to health and should not be glorified.
Well, I think the criticism is justified. The movement should not be seen as a liberation strike or a revolution of the beauty ideal. It is swimming in the pond of the narcissist sharks – and yet I believe that in the best case it leads to being more at ease with oneself.
"The way I see it, #bodypositivity is not about glorifying obesity, but about reconciling with one's own body."
The more we accept our body, the easier it is to distance ourselves from it. If we make peace with the way we look or how light ore heavy we are, we will be more relaxed and healthier.
If we love ourselves, we also show our children that they don't have to be perfect to be loved.
This article was first published on Any Working Mum and has been softly edited for this publication.