I’m not a gambler, but it would be a fairly safe bet to reckon that all of us have, at some stage or another, struggled with the idea of body positivity. I’ve touched on it here and there before – in this post, on finding balance, for example – but I’ve never really felt like body positivity or, more accurately, body “neutrality” (accepting one’s body as it is, without judgement), was in my grasp.
Honestly? I felt a little bit cringe even thinking about it. “Body positivity” felt like a term that belonged to plus-sized American women who embrace their curves – like Gabi Gregg, whose plus-sized body is incredibly beautiful and sexy. It wasn’t a term that belonged to me: a slightly pudgy, in-between-sizes, pasty little white girl from Ireland whose body was never going to be considered “sexy” or even “plus-sized” but was notoriously average.
Then I found Rebecca Flynn on Snapchat (@its_r2theb). I was about to launch into a paragraph on who she is, but, honestly, I know very little about her. She’s a stay at home mum, a pro-choice activist and she’s behind Body Positive Ireland group on Facebook and Instagram. Following her has (no exaggeration) changed my life.
What is body positivity?
Rebecca explained it well in a Snapchat Q&A recently as being, well, like I said above, looking at your body without judgement or criticism. Body positivity is a movement that focuses on empowering women by allowing them to view their bodies as just that: bodies. Our bodies do not represent our personalities. They don’t represent our failures any more than they represent our successes.
It’s kind of been a groundbreaking realisation for me: I don’t need to think that I’m the hottest bitch alive to bring body positivity into my life. I just need to stop seeing myself in the mirror and thinking, ugh; or using the words “gross” to describe or think about my body. It’s about thinking about and treating your body with kindness – a kindness we usually reserve for others.
Don’t be fooled – I’m not ‘cured’
I’m not trying to say that following Rebecca has been some form of Snapchat magic bullet, and that now I love and adore everything about my body. But hearing Rebecca talk about body positivity and watching her dance around her living room in her leggings… Well, it definitely gives me pause for thought.
At first, I won’t lie, I found the idea of it slightly cringe. I think it’s the Irish part of me – seeing anybody, male or female, celebrate themselves leaves a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. (It’s the same part of me that feels weird saying “thank you” to a compliment rather than the usual “oh, this old thing?”)
But the more I watch and the more I engage, the more connected I feel to this woman – who is actually very like me. She’s a little closer to finding peace with her body – something I wish I could achieve.
Where does self-care come into it?
Rebecca talks a lot about self-care, too, and though it’s not, strictly speaking, an essential tenet of body positivity, for me it’s complementary. What do I mean by that? In giving yourself moments where you stop to ask – What does my body want? What does my body need? What will make me feel good? – you’re acknowledging the fact that your body is worth treating well. Your body deserves your consideration.
For Rebecca, self-care very often takes the form of taking the night off with her feet up and a face mask on; for you it might be different. (Mine very often involves food – which then leads into a spiral of binge eating and body negativity, but one step at a time.)
Watch this space…
And just in case you’re still feeling a bit shitty about yourself – there’s a cure for that: listen to this.