‘Body love’ is a phrase which echoes throughout social media and is endorsed by most public figures who believe that everyone should be proud of their body, no matter what it looks like. I, too, found myself to be an avid supporter of this movement – I mean, doesn’t it seem logical to believe that you should be comfortable in your own skin? Your shape, size and weight shouldn’t determine your mental state, right? When I started thinking about these questions more deeply, I came across ideas which lead me to think that perhaps ‘body love’ isn’t as beneficial and favourable as it seems at first glance. So, if you know anything about ‘body love’ and what it stands for, maybe you can straighten out my concerns.
I want to start off with explaining what I interpret ‘body love’ to be. I actually have 2 interpretations of the phrase, and throughout this post I’ll be commenting on each definition in turn. Firstly, what comes to mind when thinking about ‘body love’ is accepting your body for what it is – this means that you should not try to change it. The second way I see it is as a mindset where you love your body, so as a result, you take care of it by feeding it the right nutrients, giving it enough exercise etc. – in this definition, change is a part of the process.
The main concern I have with the first definition, and many other people who oppose ‘body love’ have, is the approval of obesity and other weight-related health issues which, from what I’ve seen, is something which ‘body love’ is trying to normalise. Yes, positively thinking about your body when you’re overweight, obese or underweight can have immense mental benefits, but do these benefits really outweigh the costs associated with an unhealthy BMI? I’m tempted to say no, but this is where I find myself in a dilemma.
I mean, we should be trying to encourage people to stay healthy, so should ‘body love’ be promoted to the clinally obese? Or the underweight? Is there a limit to how much we enforce these ‘body love’ beliefs and who this movement is targeted towards? I, personally, can’t really seem to come to a justified conclusion regarding this topic.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I want people to be happy. If being satisfied or joyful about your body, regardless of your physical sitation, is going to make you happy, then that’s great. However, we must consider whether the happiness involved with good health is greater than or less than the happiness associated with ‘body love’.
Therefore, I started to create a list of benefits and costs associated with each of these scenarios (being healthy and body love), but when I got to the benefits of being healthy, I realised that ‘body love’ is one of the main benefits. That means that being healthy is easily going to be more desirable than simply loving your body in whatever state it is in. Consequently, the first explanation of ‘body love’ is not something which I think should be promoted because it entails a life where maybe your mental game is pretty strong, but your physical game is unsatisfactory.
Now let’s move on to definition 2 which is what I hope the ‘body love’ movement is truly trying to encompass and promote. It involves change which is what a lot of people are not willing to accept – it’s one of those things where it’s easier said than done. To fully support this notion of ‘body love’, you need to look at yourself and basically love your body (as selfish as that sounds). Your love for your body should be so strong that it encourages you to stop feeding yourself junk food and lazing about on the sofa all day while watching series upon series on Netflix. You should want a healthy body.
But what does a ‘healthy body’ really mean? It means a body which is fed fresh, organic food. A body which is kept hydrated and clean. A ‘healthy body’ is one which receives enough physical exercise to ensure everything is funtioning perfectly. Most importantly, developing this type of a body should not be an overly strenous, gruelling process. It should be fun, dare I say it, and enjoyable because at the end of the day, there are too many people who have become addicted to the atrocity of fast food and who have forgotten the beauty of organic, fresh nourishment. At the end of the day, no amount of chemicals can beat the taste of food in it’s most natural form.
So, as a small idea, if you have a small piece of land around your apratment/flat/house ot wherever you may be living, grow some fruits and vegetables. Not only do you get some physical exercise, you get to literally enjoy the fruits of your labour. You could even sell any surplus produce, or, if you’re feeling a bit generous, give it out to your friends and family for free. This is just one of the many ways which you can easily incorporate healthy living into your life. In addition, your efforts show that you truly care about your body which is what ‘body love’ should be all about.
After contemplating about my thoughts on ‘body love’ throughout this post, I’ve decided that maybe this phrase which is thrown around in the public realm should be redefined, or reinvented as it can it can cause misunderstandings to be made or confusion to exist. Instead of calling it ‘body love’, which can mean 2 very different things as I’ve discussed in this post, maybe it should be called ‘healthy living’, or ‘eating healthy’, or ‘caring for your body’. Yes, I know that these phrases are not as exciting or intriguing as the phrase ‘body love’, but it is really what we mean when we say ‘body love’.
I’ve personally seen ‘body love’ be used as an excuse for people to eat junk food because they ‘love their body the way it is’, but this is what I believe to a misinterpretation of the phrase. Inputs lead to outputs, so the food you eat is just as important as the body you put it into. Anyway, these are just my initial views on the subject, I’d love to know yours in the comments below. What do you think about ‘body love’? Is the phrase being misused? How should it be promoted? What does it really mean to you?