Back to Basics #3: Body Posi Club! Starting Now, Ending Never!

By: Sierra Voorhies

Welcome once again to Back to Basics! In these posts, we break down feminist concepts for readers curious about feminist vocabulary, concepts, and ideas! Today’s question is….

“What is body positivity?”

Body positivity is a movement and a set of ideas based around body acceptance and challenging social norms of thinness as beauty. It challenges diet culture and the thin ideal with radical body acceptance and practicing intuitive eating.  We as a society have been policing fat bodies and shaming fat people, and body positivity is a response to diet culture, limited sizing, and discrimination based on size. 

 

“So what does it mean to be body positive, like for me and my body?”

It’s different for everyone, but the basics of the practice are…

1. Practice appreciating all your body does for you instead of evaluating it on aesthetics

2. Do what feels good for your body, not what others tell you to do. This doesn’t mean eat sweets 24/7 because it feels good, it means listen to the cues from yourself to eat when you’re hungry, take naps when you’re tired, and  exercise when you can.

3. De-center your body from your self image and self worth, and cast off magazines, billboards, and other media that would tell you to become thinner to conform to a beauty standard. 

 

“Isn’t body positivity unrealistic? I mean, bodies can’t be healthy at any size.”

 It is literally impossible to know someone’s health by just their body. Body positivity is a response to fatphobia and policing bodies based on their size and beauty standards. The whole idea of body positivity is to not judge yourself, or others based on looks and size. So, if someone is very large or very small, it’s not anyone’s societal duty to shame them. Making inferences about people’s health and shaming them to eat less, or exercise more is not helpful or healthy. 

We should all practice body positivity, regardless of your gender, age, or size. Some people feel like “body neutrality” or “body acceptance” is a more suitable name for the movement, but all three terms describe roughly the same ideas. Wanna learn more about body positivity? Click here. And, if you want to learn more about basic feminist topics, check out our post on the myth of “man-hating feminists” or  intersectional feminism!

The Weight of Diet Culture


By: Ebony Taylor

In celebration of Everybody is Beautiful Week, I want to share my journey of accepting my body. Body confidence took me a while to conquer, and I still struggle with keeping it intact some days. With all the social media influence and diet culture being a trend, it’s hard to not compare yourself. It wasn’t until freshman year of college that I started to realize who I was apart from my insecurities. Attending a big university, there were people of every shape, size, and body type. They say college is where you find yourself and I would agree. Living on campus, I could choose who I wanted to be, what that person looked like, and how to make the new me happy. There are days when I can wear a fitted dress or crop top and feel the most confident. Then diet culture and social media can make me second guess myself.

For those not familiar with the term diet culture, the term refers to societal expectations that determine a person’s worth by valuing ‘thinness and attractiveness’ over emotional well-being. Diet culture focuses on calorie restriction, “good and bad” foods, and normalizes self-critical talk about oneself. According to UC San Diego Recreation, this toxic idealization and obsession with physical appearance can be a risk factor for body dysmorphia and eating disorders. I did not realize how much I used to talk bad about my body and how those comments left a feeling of imperfection.

The Freshman 15 (when attending MU, it was the Mizzou 22, yikes!) was something I experienced over time. Add bloating, inactivity for a short while, and then COVID’s “pandemic pounds”, I noticed I didn’t fit into the same clothes. Family members would point out that I was heavier or say things like, “that [outfit piece] used to fit looser, didn’t it?” Unconsciously, I was engaging in diet-culture behavior. I didn’t realize at first that I was avoiding going to the gym or participating in group workouts because I felt I didn’t have the “right appearance”.

Social media constantly portrays what girls and women “should” look like. On Instagram, I couldn’t scroll for five minutes without seeing a post about restrictive eating or pictures of women modeling body types that didn’t portray the average woman. That’s when I knew I had to change my habits, leading to me deleting all my social media. I cannot express the feeling of that weight being removed. No more filtering photos. No more wasting time finding the “perfect” picture to post. I focused on accepting my body the way it was while learning healthier habits that were achievable for me, not what others’ claim works on everyone else.

So, for my journey and others walking their own, this last week of February is a reminder to focus on you and your body, listen to your body, and treat it kindly. If you came to the Every Body is Beautiful Information Table event, the Women’s Center partnered with other campus organizations, worked together to bring awareness to body image, body positivity, and eating disorders because every body is, indeed, beautiful. Take care of it because you only have one.

 

Mass Media and Body Image

By: Brittany Soto

In a world that is heavy on technology and social media usage, it makes it easier to communicate and connect with others, but the question is, is the media always trying to spread a positive message to people out there in the world? This is especially true when it comes to body image. Advertisements such as TV commercials, for example, tend to emphasize that a person’s body should have a slim appearance to them and that they are less-than if they look any other way. This is far from the truth because, in reality, everyone has a unique body shape and structure and just because someone is thin, doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy. These kinds of expectations that the media portrays can have a serious effect on an individual’s mental and physical well-being leading to low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction issues leading to even more serious conditions such as eating disorders.

Generally, women are thought to be the only ones who suffer from body image issues and eating disorders as a result of what the media portrays, but this can also have an effect on men as well. “Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than among women, but it is still significant.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2018). This is a growing problem since, nowadays, people spend the majority of their time on the media. I think it’s important for people to understand that what is portrayed on the media isn’t always the truth. I think it’s also important for people to practice self-love and self-acceptance, so they aren’t constantly measuring their self-worth based on the media. As human beings, especially as women, I think it’s important to emphasize these things when the media tries to tell us that we aren’t enough.

Participate in Every Body is Beautiful Week 2014

Hello everyone! The blog below is a guest blog from UMKC’s USucceed Blog. It features our Every Body is Beauiful Week events (taking place dureing the 2014 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week), so check it out!

EveryBody“UMKC’s annual EveryBody Is Beautiful Week will take place February 24-28.  Stop by informational tables to get information on body image and eating disorders and “trash your fat talk”.  Take part all week in Operation Beautiful by posting sticky notes with positive messages around campus.  Supplies are available at the tables and all week at the Women’s Center, Counseling Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Swinney Recreation, MindBody Connection, and Student Health & Wellness.

Join us on Wednesday, February 26 from 5–7pm in the MindBody Connection (ASSC 112) for a Love Your Body Party, with creative and relaxing activities designed to celebrate all our bodies do for us and fight back against unhealthy messages about weight and eating!

Schedule of tables:

  • Monday, February 24, 11 am – 1 pm in the Health Sciences Building Lobby
  • Tuesday, February 25, 11 am – 1 pm in the Atterbury Student Success Center
  • Wednesday, February 26, 11 am – 1 pm in Royall Hall

EveryBody Is Beautiful Week is offered by the UMKC Women’s Center and Counseling Center, with co-sponsorship from MSA, Swinney Rec, OSI, Student Health, UMKC Athletics and MindBody Connection.  Contact Rachel Pierce at 235-5186 or the Women’s Center at 235-1638 with questions.”