In recent years, there has been a movement online centered around body positivity and finding love for your body despite all its “imperfections.” This is probably something many young people have encountered on Instagram, TikTok and a variety of other social media platforms, but sometimes it can be hard to interpret and incorporate these views into our lives.
Body positivity is important, and I think everyone should learn to love their bodies. But let’s face it: It can be really, really hard. It’s important to remind yourself that bodies change and grow and fluctuate.
There are going to be different mindsets when it comes to making body positivity a reality in daily life, but I have found embracing a mindset of body acceptance helps me to feel more secure in who I am.
In light of body positivity movements, we are expected to find ourselves beautiful and embrace our imperfections. I think this is great, but for some it's a long journey that will take a lifetime. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to find a place to start working toward a healthy body image, and it can make it even harder to start trying to love your body.
Claire Wilhelm is a student and former director of the Body Project at IU, and she has worked toward promoting healthy body images on IU’s campus. The Body Project works with women in sororities to lead body image workshops and programs.
“I typically use ‘body acceptance’ when I talk about body image because for a lot of people, it’s hard to feel super positive about your body all the time, but if you can get to a place where you feel neutral about it or you can accept the way you look, sometimes it can feel a little more realistic when you are working on reducing some of those harmful body image related behaviors,” Wilhelm said.
The first step to learning to love your body is to stop hating on it. This sounds a lot easier than it is, especially when you constantly see images on social media of seemingly flawless people or you hear parents or peers critique the way they or others look.
“We have our phones in our hands almost every second of the day, and when you are constantly exposed to that, it can be really draining,” Wilhelm said.
Not only are we constantly exposed to certain standards on our phones, but phones are also constantly recording, taking photos and documenting everything.
How many people have avoided wearing certain clothes because they knew photos were going to be taken? How many people have avoided events all together because they couldn’t find clothes they felt comfortable in?
My mindset of “my body is the least interesting thing about me” won’t work for everyone, but for some it might. You don’t have to change your body to be worthy or appreciated. Sometimes it's hard to remember this, but if you start to remind yourself of these things every day, your mindset can really change.
“It’s not realistic to expect that you're going to love every single thing about your body and yourself all the time,” Wilhelm said. “There is, from the moment we are put on this earth, pressure to look a certain way.”
For me, some days, these pressures win out, and it can really suck. Other days, I am able to remind myself that there are so many more important things about me than my body, and it can be truly liberating.
Aidan Kramer (she/her) is a freshman studying microbiology. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine after she graduates.