Hey guys, author Alicia Rades is here with us today discussing her take on the Body Image Movement happening around the world. Let me say this regarding her post (and this will make more sense when you read it). Not everyone is saying that you don’t have to change yourself by this movement. People are saying that you are beautiful as you are. But if you want to change, go for it. Personally, I want to lose more weight, but I still want people to love themselves for who they are. Heck, I love myself as I am, but I still want to lose weight for different reasons. I think we can all agree, though, that if you want to change, you always have that option, but I also think it’s important that you love yourself for who you are. Don’t EVER feel like you have to change because that’s what is expected of you. Anyway, you know how I feel, but here is Alicia’s point of view on it.
There’s a topic that’s been weighing on my mind over the last few months, and it has to do with today’s body image movement.
Now, I’m not here to talk about the health of our nation. While that’s a growing concern, I won’t pick on an individual’s health status. That’s a personal matter.
I also won’t tell you who is beautiful and who isn’t. I love the fact that people are preaching beauty and confidence at any age or size. Yes, I find true beauty in people who are underweight or overweight and those with disabilities, cancer, depression, and everything in between.
I’m also not here to discuss what the definition of a “real woman” is. Whether you have curves, a thigh gap, breast implants, or a friggin’ mustache, there’s a “real woman” behind every outward appearance or Photoshopped picture.
No, I’m here to talk about something that I rarely hear discussed but I feel needs to be said.
That’s the growing notion that beauty=perfection.
That’s not to say that only “perfect” people are beautiful. The problem is that everyone is hearing that they’re beautiful, and that means they’re perfect in every way.
Now, I’m not going to argue with the concept of beauty. I really do believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Go ahead and strut your confidence and show off your beauty!
I also won’t say that you can’t be your version of perfection if you want to be. Heck, give it all you’ve got!
The problem I see is that this concept leads down a dangerous path into convincing everyone that there’s no reason to change yourself—even if you want to. (I’m not just talking about weight, either.) We have this idea that everyone is beautiful, and therefore everyone must be perfect. Henceforth, they shouldn’t consider changing themselves, if even for the better.
That’s where the problem comes in.
Many of us realize that we’re not perfect. BUT that does not mean we lack confidence. It just means that we want to strive to be the best we can be. Yet, why is no one encouraging that?
Let me give you an example. A Facebook friend recently announced that she wanted to start losing weight. Here are some direct quotes:
- Hey, don’t get too down on yourself!
- You are beautiful!
- You will always be beautiful!
- I think you are a beautiful woman with a beautiful heart.
- You are a strong, independent, and beautiful woman.
- You always look great!
- You’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are…If anyone tells you otherwise…[f***] them.
The biggest thing that irks me is that her desire to change her body was immediately met with a chorus of “Don’t change a thing. You’re beautiful the way you are!” Don’t get me wrong, these are nice, uplifting comments, but where are the comments encouraging her to go for it? The one bit of encouragement was a friend offering to go on walks with her.
Let’s also consider that “wanting to change” makes people automatically assume you’re self-loathing or that you don’t feel beautiful. Too many people think that being beautiful and having confidence means you’ve hit a peak, meaning that if you want to change something, you must have low-confidence, or if you have confidence, it must mean you think you’re perfect.
That may not be the case at all. Why can’t we be confident and beautiful and still want to respect ourselves and strive for a better life?
The terms beauty, perfection, confidence, and health are not synonymous, yet the body image movements I’m seeing today are treating these words as such.
What if you don’t want to change anything about yourself? That’s great! You shouldn’t feel the pressure to change—but when we’re teaching no-judging, we also shouldn’t be fine judging people who want to change something about themselves, taking it into our own hands to tell them they’re too good to reach their goals.
Again, it’s not just about weight. People who want to find love, eat healthier (for non-weight related reasons), quit smoking, further their education, etc. all hear the same thing: “Don’t change a thing! You’re beautiful the way you are.” Granted, some get more encouragement than others, but changes like this are still treated as an assault against your beauty.
I love the body positivity movement, but I wish we lived in a world where confidence wasn’t all about how you looked. I wish we lived in a world where you were allowed to change yourself for the better without being judged for it and encouraged to “not change a thing because you’re beautiful.” Furthermore, I wish those who don’t want to change don’t have the feel the pressure to change because of what other people expect of them.
Be beautiful. Be confident. But give yourself the courage to be who you want to be.
Sound off on this. I want to hear your opinions! Thank you, Alicia, for joining us. I’m happy to hear your point of view on the matter. I think we can all be respectful of Alicia, as well.