Image Source: Stocksnap / Katie Treadway
In the age of "Me Too," women are beginning another movement, one of accepting their unique identities. Many influencers are advocating this in real life and on social media, with no apologies, no Photoshop, and sometimes with no clothes on. Women are redefining their roles in society, as well as what it means to be healthy and beautiful in their own skin. For too long, women have been comparing themselves to cookie-cutter images of what society portrays as "beautiful." Unlike diets and fashion trends, this isn't a fad.
Our perception of what our bodies should look like began when we picked up our first Barbie doll. The one with a thin frame, long straight hair, light skin, and perfect makeup. This was when we started telling ourselves, "We want to look like this when we get older." However, we learned when we got older that humans weren't made like dolls. That in an ever-evolving world, with the meldings of different races, genders, and body types, no two people are alike. Growing up and flipping through magazines with ads of size zero models and photoshopped pictures, and reading about celebrities being criticized and ostracized for gaining or losing "too much weight" have deeply impacted how we view ourselves.
Grace Francesca, a spiritual blogger and body-positive advocate, openly shares her personal healing process to inspire other women. Grace said, "When you realise that your purpose in life is to heal yourself and then help to heal others, you begin to look at your body differently."
As women, we we're raised on a one-size-fits-all view on how our bodies should look and how to dress and carry ourselves. However, the reality is we all are made differently. We all come from different backgrounds, have different skin tones, body types, and styles. Instead of apologising for the way we look, we are now learning how to celebrate what many of us used to hide. Body positivity is about adopting more forgiveness and releasing any negative judgments that have accumulated over the years. Michelle Elman, a body confidence coach and activist said, "Everyone is made differently and it would be really confusing if we all looked the same. How would we tell each other apart?" She advocates that when you're called fat, allow this "to open up the conversation and use it as an opportunity for body positivity."
Women have been living in the shadows of the truth. That there are real people out there with bodies similar to our own. Women are liberating themselves from these unreasonable standards that have caused self-hatred and negative self talk for too long. Being healthy isn't only about feeding yourself nourishing food, it's also about feeding yourself nourishing thoughts — developing a healthy relationship with yourself mentally and learning how to love and accept yourself. Happiness isn't something that can be acquired through material means, it's something that is healed and dealt with on a deeper level. When you wipe off all the makeup, when you take off your Spanx, and when you look in the mirror, there will only be one person looking back, and that's you.
There are two options anyone has, which is to change your perception of how you view yourself and love every bit of it, or allow other people's perceptions of how they define beauty to determine how you feel about yourself. Women are a strong and resilient species and tired of the pressures and body comparisons. It is time to free ourselves and praise individualized beauty.
Instead of hiding the curves that show the world we are women, hiding the stretch marks that show how much we have grown, or hiding the cellulite that make us human, women are posting all of their vulnerability on social media. Stephanie Yeboah, a curve blogger and body-positivity advocate, has no reservations about taking picture of her bare skin to show girls of all ages that we need to embrace and love our unique shapes that make us who we are. Stephanie said, "Everyone is beautiful and everyone deserves respect regardless of what body type they have."
We didn't come here to fit in a mold. We didn't come here to quiet our inner feminine rawr. We came here to stand together, united as sisters, and support one another and celebrate our realness. We've learned that trying to look like someone else doesn't foster a healthy relationship with ourselves. Iskra Lawrence is also a popular influencer, curve model, and health and wellness advocate, and she said, "I believe in being true to myself and I encourage you all to do you too. Never be scared to show vulnerability, share your story, or your beliefs."
Instead of depriving yourself of self-love because you aren't like the girls in the magazines, shine positivity on whatever makes you feel uncomfortable. Accept yourself, your shape, your skin colour, your hair texture, because no one is made as unique as you were. Work on being the best version of yourself. Gather inspiration from fellow body-positive women. The more women stand up for and support one another, the more beautiful this world will be. Katie Willcox, a mother, curve model, and founder of Healthy Is the New Skinny, wants to redefine people's body perceptions and bring women together with her message of support: "I believe we are all connected and when women come together, it can be healing for us all."