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Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Harmful effects of body positivity: the correlation between beauty and self worth

A+key+factor+in+the+societal+beauty+standard+is+a+persons+weight%2C+which+the+body+positivity+movement+attempts+to+reject.+However%2C+the+idea+of+body+positivity+itself+is+superficial+as+it+relies+on+a+persons+physical+appearance+as+a+determinant+of+their+self-worth.
Photo used with permission from Google Creative Commons
A key factor in the societal “beauty standard” is a person’s weight, which the body positivity movement attempts to reject. However, the idea of body positivity itself is superficial as it relies on a person’s physical appearance as a determinant of their self-worth.

The current body positivity movement formed around 2012 and has since gained significant popularity, especially with the dramatic rise of social media. However, the original message of the movement has gotten lost, and the movement now promotes toxic and harmful ideas about body image, self-love and self-expression.

This isn’t to say that body positivity is inherently negative; the movement was originally started as a fat acceptance movement in the late 1960s with the aim to both challenge unrealistic feminine “beauty standards” and to dismantle judgment against people of color, people of different genders and sexualities and people with disabilities. None of this is harmful or morally wrong, and if this message continued to spread, the movement would most likely be thriving today.

However, the original message has dramatically changed over time. The former mantra of the movement was, “all bodies are beautiful,” but the new message has changed to be, “people should be able to accept their body in the current state that it’s in, no matter what their body is going through.” This sentence, though seemingly positive at first glance, causes the body positivity movement to become extremely superficial.

Societal standards tell people that beauty is considered as a necessity to live a good life, and the movement only strengthens this by saying people need to accept themselves and convince themselves they’re beautiful in order to be seen as worthy to both ourselves and those around them. The idea of someone’s body only deserving love because of its beauty promotes an unattainable form of self-love, and this can have severe consequences on the mental health and overall confidence of people in their bodies.

The movement also creates intense pressure to conform and suppress self-expression. A major problem with body positivity is the insistence that people must feel beautiful in their appearance at all times, and this prevents people from having days where they’re not as confident in themselves. This problem is especially relevant for those who struggled with their self-confidence before the movement became more widespread, as they now face more pressure than ever before to suddenly love themselves when it’s not an easy task in the slightest.

Additionally, someone deciding to change their body in any way, regardless of if the purpose has to do with vanity or health, is looked down upon by supporters of body positivity. Well-known examples of this include the heated arguments surrounding Adele when she lost 100 pounds over the course of two years. Critics accused her of being a hypocrite because she supported the body positivity movement and still lost weight, and others criticized her for giving into beauty standards. Even in scenarios that are more common in day-to-day life, body positivity supporters seem to shame those who take any action to alter their appearance, whether it’s as drastic as plastic surgery or as minimal as wearing makeup or shaving body hair.

This then raises the question: Why is beauty such an important factor of self-worth? Why can’t people just live?

A solution to those questions lies in a different mindset called body neutrality. Contrary to body positivity, body neutrality shifts attention from a body’s appearance to its function; for example, instead of seeing their stomach as beautiful or ugly, a person would simply view their stomach as a body part that digests food for them. In short, body neutrality supporters view and accept their body as their body, and nothing more or less. This dramatically changes the idea of self-worth compared to body positivity, as with body neutrality, peoples’ fundamental value comes from beyond their physical body.

While body neutrality is admittedly not the perfect, problem-free solution to shifting away from body positivity, it is a significant step in the right direction as it revokes many of the major issues with body positivity. The world is pushing beauty standards and unhealthy ideas about self-worth onto individuals now more than ever, and it is crucial that people re-evaluate their potentially harmful mindsets about body image for a healthier redefinition of the importance of physical appearances.

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