Proud2Bme | Body-Positivity Isn’t Body-Exhibitionism

  • Body Image
  • Body Positivity

Body-Positivity Isn’t Body-Exhibitionism

By Kaitlin Irwin—Earlier this year, Amy Jo Clark and Miriam Weaver of the Indy Star mused about the body-positive movement and how they just don’t really get it. These two women do understand that women want to feel more represented in popular culture and the media. They don’t, however, see the need to have women “displaying themselves in various stages of undress.” I can see where they’re coming from. Sometimes it seems as though women everywhere are just flinging their clothes off and proclaiming that they’re “body-posi.” Yet there is so much more to this than meets the eye.

First of all, being body-positive obviously doesn’t mean that you have an affinity for streaking or lounging around in the nude. It means that you appreciate and love your body for what it is. Our bodies are the vessels that carry us around and allow us to engage in the activities we love to do. The cool thing is that bodies vary from one to the next, and we need more representation of that in our society. That doesn’t mean we need to see diverse nude figures all over the place, but the homogenization of the white, stick-thin, made-up model has got to go.

Nowadays, you just need to Google “body-positive” to find ads and projects dedicated to the cause. Clark and Weaver are touching on just one facet of body-positivity. Not everyone is stripping in the name of body-love. If it were just a matter of posing nude in order to feel validated, then I would agree with Clark and Weaver’s declaration that “women are still being sent a message that their appearance is the most important thing about them.”

What we need to do is look at the whole picture. Body-positivity is about focusing on the positive aspects of one’s body. Note that I didn’t write “appearance,” but “body.” If a person is truly body-positive, then they don’t have to be naked to love and accept their body. They can appreciate their body and all of the wonderful things it does for them day in and day out. I love my legs, not because they are long and thin, but because they help me run and jump. I cherish my arms; they aren’t toned and svelte, but they allow me to give awesome hugs.

Lingerie ads or nude photo shoots as an expression of body-love may have been inspired by a desire to gain attention for the cause. In a society where we feel inundated with imagery of ideal body types, perhaps attention-grabbing displays help those who feel marginalized by unrealistic body proclamations. We can also look at people like Jessamyn Stanley (a plus-sized yogi), Serena Williams, Winnie Harlow (a model with vitiligo) and Lacey Parker (a cheerleader with Down syndrome) to see gorgeous examples of body-positivity.

Sure, being naked or in your underwear can be empowering, and if it makes you feel good, then feel free to do that (in private, please!). However, sashaying in undies doesn’t make a person body-posi. Taking care of yourself does. Eating well, being active, getting enough sleep…this demonstrates body-love. Of course, there are body-loving things we can do that are related to appearance, such as wearing a favorite outfit or feeling comfortable in a swimsuit at the beach, but we should be doing those things because we want to, not because we feel the need to. 

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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