The Body Positivity Movement Isn't Just For Adults

The Body Positivity Movement Isn't Just For Adults

Healthy looks different on different bodies.

Let’s do an experiment. Think of your best friend, your significant other, someone who means a lot to you.

One day, you ask this person’s opinion on an outfit. They look you over and proceed to tell you everything negative you’ve ever told yourself about your own body.

Maybe that you’re too fat to wear this, too thin to wear that, too short, too tall, that you have too much cellulite, that you have too many stretch marks, that you should cover up your fat arms, that your legs are too twiggy and that they just don’t have any suggestions for you to improve — you’re just a hopeless case of ugly.

Would you stay associated with this person?

I wouldn’t.

So why do we consistently put ourselves down?

Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. We’ve all heard this before, so maybe that experiment wasn’t very effective.

Here’s another one. If you have kids, think of them. If you don’t, pretend you do.

Now, pretend that for an entire week everything you say to yourself about your own body, you have to say to your kids about their bodies.

Could you do it? Probably not, because you love them.

You would never say those things to someone you love that much. So why can’t we love ourselves?

We’re taught to think that there’s always something worth fixing or improving, so we can never be happy with who we are naturally. But are we ever any happier once those things are “fixed?”

Even once you reach a healthy weight for your body type, you keep pushing for those extra five pounds to melt off, and then another five, and another five, and another and by this point, what you’re doing isn’t even healthy anymore – you just want to see that number drop.

We can blame these problems on celebrities, social media, sexualized advertising or mean teenagers all we want because, yes, they can make the issue worse. But poor body image has much deeper roots.

The reality is that these thoughts aren’t inherent, they’re not organic, they don’t just exist on their own. These thoughts and their resulting behaviors are learned and socialized from the moment kids step into a preschool classroom, and in some cases, well before.

Kids as young as six have poor body image and consider dieting. Surely, they’re not hearing dieting tips from other six-year-olds, but their wide-open eyes and ears leave them thinking about their bodies in the same manner that their parents do.

Parents lay the foundation for poor body image when they ask their kids if they look fat in a piece of clothing when they let their kids hear them talk about dieting or when their kids see them refuse to wear something because of how they look.

This doesn’t mean they’re bad parents — they were socialized to think these things in the exact same way.

And as we get older, it only gets worse.

I was in the second grade the first time a peer commented on my body. We wore uniforms at my school, and a kid in my class told me that my stomach was too fat for my jumper since it poked out over the edges of the waistband.

I was seven years old. That’s almost 13 years ago.

A little later on, two different kids told me that they would never want me to be on their team in PE class. They didn’t say it was because I was fat, but that’s how I understood it.

That was nine years ago.

Another time, someone else laughed in my face when I told them I wanted to play volleyball. Again, it’s all about implication.

That was six years ago.

There’s more, but I think I’ve made my point.

I haven’t forgotten any of these instances. I started thinking about these kinds of comments every time I got dressed, and I made a habit of crossing my arms in front of my stomach when I sat down. People asked me why I sat like that and I just told them I was always cold.

This is why body positivity is a movement, not something we just automatically know, like our hair color or our name.

But we can’t just word-vomit physical affirmations and expect body positivity to magically appear in the minds of our most vulnerable.

Tell your kids, your young siblings, your little cousins, the kids you babysit and even your own parents that their bodies are good bodies. Remind them that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes and that numbers on scale mean nothing.Teach them how to nourish and take care of their body instead of punishing it. Debunk the perfection myth, and help them grow to love the body they’re in. And don’t forget to love your body, too.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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No, I Don’t Need To Be Told How Or Why I Need To Get In Shape For Summer

Because you shouldn't feel like you have to look a certain way for a season that lasts two to three months out of the year.

As the school year is coming to a close, summer is rapidly upon us. For most, summer means long days spent by the pool and no more strenuous hours spent at the library cramming useless knowledge of limits and integrals into your mind the night before your Calc exam. However, for some, summer is the most dreaded time of the year.

Crazy, right? It’s hard to imagine that there’s a group of people actually dreading the most wonderful season of all.

For this group, summer turns into a season of dread and insecurities — bikini season.

Unfortunately, I used to belong to this group of people. While summer was a still a season of relaxation and freedom for me, it became clouded with the anticipation of bikini season.

In today’s society, so much emphasis is placed on getting the perfect ‘beach bod’ or getting in shape for summer that it pressures girls and boys alike to reach unattainable and unhealthy body types in honor of this season.

Articles and advertisements stressing the importance of shaping up for summer fill the pages of every health, fitness, and fashion magazine. Social media feeds become cluttered with toned, double-zero models sporting the latest string bikinis. Workout regimens increase and diets intensify.

How can one season bring about so much stress surrounding body image?

It’s one season. Merely two to three months out of the year. Two to three months that people feel the need to transform their bodies for. Is it really worth it? To sacrifice your happiness, health, and well-being to look a certain way in a bathing suit?

No, it’s not worth it.

Coming from someone who’s dealt with an eating disorder first hand, it is not worth it.

What seems to be a “simple diet” can turn into something much more dangerous. What seems to be insignificant frequent thoughts surrounding food may not be so insignificant. The habit of constantly comparing yourself to the models seen sporting those string bikinis in magazines or social media is not a little habit.

These behaviors have the potential to transform into something much worse.

And this is what happened in my case. My “simple diet” turned into consuming less than 600 calories a day. My frequent thoughts surrounding food turned into constant thoughts about every calorie consumed and every calorie burned. The habit of constantly comparing myself to the models I saw in magazines and social media turned into self-hate and feelings of inadequacy.

Those behaviors managed to turn into a full-blown eating disorder, just in time for summer. So instead of sporting my ‘beach bod’ poolside, I spent my summer days at doctors appointments trying to restore the body I had neglected for so long— just to look a certain way in a bathing suit.

Yes, my case was extreme. Not all diets are bad and not everyone who tries to ‘get in shape’ for summer is going to develop an eating disorder. However, people need to be cautious of the messages seen in magazines and social media regarding body image, particularly surrounding summer.

If you want to get in shape, get in shape because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. Especially don’t feel like you have to for a season that lasts two to three months out of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. Working out makes me feel great and serves as a therapeutic outlet for me, however, I workout because I want to, not because magazines are prompting me to.

So no, I don’t need to be told how or why I need to get in shape for summer. We don’t need to be told how or why we need to get in shape for summer.
Cover Image Credit: Hayden Mitzlaff

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To The Girl In Front Of The Mirror

You are more than meets the eye.

Dear Beautiful,

I know that you avoid the sight of yourself. You run from your image as if you are afraid of your own reflection. But that's what it is isn't it? The sight of yourself is too real. Too uncensored.

The truth is, I know you pull at your skin when no one is looking. I know you imagine a miniature version of yourself in unreasonable proportions. I know you hold your breath just looking at yourself, hoping to be satisfied. I know all of this because I too have pinched and prodded my body trying to become content with the sight of myself.

I remember the day I saw the cuts on your legs in the cafeteria. I couldn't process how someone so artfully made could be so cruel to herself. I remember wanting to hold you. You were so young and full of light. I feared what happened when you shut out the light once the sun went down. My heart broke for you that day.

You have always been enough. Why lessen yourself? I wish I could create for you a mural of your worth, it would be endless.

I had always compared myself to you. I wanted what you had. How didn't you see it? Would that even be of benefit to you? Is there any way for me to convince you that you are much more than your external beauty?

I still wonder what dark deserted place your mind can wander off to. I worry about you everyday.

As much as I want you to see the flawless nature you have, I know it is hypocritical of me. Nevertheless, I want the best for you. A home for your lonely and aching. I wish I could take it all away and bandage up your broken heart. I would replace all of your painful incisions with chains of small flowers so you could see the beauty on your own skin.

I know you are on the way to loving yourself. You change your own mind when stepping away from ignorant bliss and into reality. You stand in front of the mirror and repeat phrases that you do not necessarily believe yet.

"I am beautiful."

"I am worth it."

"I am more than this."

You repeat these things until they become true in your own eyes.

There is no running from yourself. You are all reality and nothing artificial. All blood stricken and bones, no plastic or metal.

I hope one day you will see what I see. All I want you to know is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are made with the greatest care and you should be treated as such. If you cannot find it in you to love yourself know that I and many others do.

Stay your strongest for yourself.


A Friend.

"Your body is not a temple.
Your body is the house you grew up in.
How dare you try to burn it to the ground."

-Sierra DeMulder

Cover Image Credit: Nora Handelman

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