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  • Writer's pictureLexy Spreitzer

Fake Body-Positivity is Real

[originally posted September 8 2019]

If you're trying to surround yourself with positive affirmations on social media, it's becoming harder and harder to find authentic, honest content. Too often, I'll see suggested content on Instagram tagged #bodypositive when, in fact, the post is not body-positive. This goes for all social media platforms. I've seen similar 'fake' content on a few self-care threads on Twitter and through pins on Pinterest. It's time to shed some light and expose what's really body-positive on social media.

Before I begin my article, I'd like to note that the content I talk about, while not being body-positive, is not necessarily a dishonest post. It's just not body-positive. That doesn't invalidate sharers of such content, but I hope these people realize that what they're posting isn't truly body-positive.

Lifestyle changes and body goals (that don't necessarily involve weight loss)

real bo-po posts don't ask you to change anything about your body

"What are your goals?"

I've had multiple fitness trainers DM me about starting a "body-positive" workout and diet plan. They advertise by stating that they can "help me reach my goals." Before I had learned enough about body-positivity, I thought that changing my body was in alignment with the bo-po movement as long as it didn't involve prominent fat loss. However, body-positivity doesn't have clauses and exceptions for specific people in specific situations. Just because a trainer may not be pressuring you to be thin, lose weight, or restrict many calories, it doesn't mean that they're body-positive. Anyone who is trying to get you to change your body in any way isn't bo-po friendly. To be honest, I have no idea what an official "body-positive" workout and diet plan entails.

A real body-positive lifestyle doesn't aim to change anything. If anything, physical changes in one's body are merely effects of living life. I workout to relieve stress and keep a routine. However, I never aim or expect to see changes in my body. If I lose weight, it's not intentional. If I become stronger or more flexible, it's because my workouts feel good to me. If I gain weight because I enjoy going on a family vacation, it's perfectly fine. It's okay to change your body intentionally if that's what you really want to do, however, it's just not body-positive. Changing your body won't fix your self-esteem or how kind your soul is, nor is it a body-positive action. Change-oriented workout and diet plans can actually influence ED culture. To me, anything that has the power to influence disordered behavior isn't body-positive.

"Before & After"

Before and after posts showcase physical changes. I'm not saying that's bad, and you have every right to glorify your physical changes. Posting these types of images simply perpetuates EDs and a reliance on physical appearance for internal worth. Unless you're making it super clear that you're the same person in both bodies and that happiness isn't based on your change in body type, then you're perhaps unintentionally sending many negative messages to people. You're indicating that being thinner, stronger, or 'acceptably curvier' is better when you compare yourself to a different body type (without a bo-po explanation).

You're telling people that one body type is better. You may only be discussing your own appearance and not be mentioning anyone else. However, indicating that you yourself are happier in one body than in the other is not body-positive. It's harmful to post before and after content because you can potentially send the message that one or both body types pictured are bad. For example, someone may post that they lost 30 pounds and looked 'like a huge cow' before. They may have a friend who has a body type quite similar to the pre-weight loss body. Once that friend sees that post, they are going to feel inadequate. They may feel that their new-bodied friend doesn't approve of bigger body types. Or, they may feel now like they'll be better if they lose 30 pounds too. Either way, it was never the intention of the sharer of that post to spread negativity and shame to others. However, with the awareness that they actually were spreading negativity, should they keep posting such content?

My philosophy is that if you know you're spreading shame and hate, then why keep doing so? Spread love and respect always! Every action we personally make affects others. What kind of energy are you giving back to the world?

"I'm finally able to accept my body after changing XYZ"

I often see this in product pitches. If someone is selling you a skinny tea or waist trainer for slimming down, they're not body-positive. They're encouraging you that you can only love yourself after changing your body type. Another name for this mentality is 'diet culture.' Diet culture has generated an industry that has convinced people that what's on the outside is more important than what's on the inside. It makes people physically, mentally, and emotionally sick. It causes death from eating disorders and suicide. Don't try to tell me that being dead is better than being fat. That's an ill perception and anyone who believes such needs professional help. I apologize if that's forward, but it's true. It's like saying anything is better than being fat - even being a bad person.

To be honest, what you look like isn't important to your worth at all. If you can accept yourself on the inside disregarding your physical appearance, then you'll truly feel your worth. Our worth is not based on how easily we are able to love our bodies. This is a more body-inclusive statement. Feel free to check out other articles of mine to learn more about my stance on body acceptance vs. body positivity.

Photo by Jack Krasky on Unsplash

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