You may have heard the term but aren't quite sure what it entails—body positivity. VeryWellMind defines it as the assertion that all people deserve a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance.
It's a movement that has been around for decades, but about 2012, it picked up momentum again on social media. While it has challenged chiefly the feminine body standards that exist across most of the world, especially in North America, it's a topic that affects all genders.
One of the primary priorities of body positivity is to tackle how body image affects mental health and well-being. According to research, having a poor body image is associated with a greater risk of anxiety and disordered eating conditions. People's opinions about their looks and even how they assess their self-worth are influenced by their body confidence.
There is much to be gained about applying this approach to everyday life. People of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures can benefit from learning more about body positivity and neutrality.
Here are some suggestions for books to read on the subject, which can all be found on Booksio’s website.
A First-Hand Experience
The origin of the body positivity and neutrality movement came from the fat-positive movement, a radical and revolutionary movement from the 1960s that spoke up and advocated for the rights of people that revolted against size discrimination.
Unfortunately, those larger than most standard clothing sizes are often seen as lazy overeaters, which is unfair and does not apply to everyone.
Many plus-size authors have penned memoirs on their experiences throughout their lives and how their body size is only one aspect of their overall existence.
A journalist and writer from Seattle, Lindy West has had her book Shrill adapted into a Hulu show starring Aidy Bryant. It discusses her trials and tribulations as a full-figured professional navigating the world of media and the attitudes that she experienced from the general public.
Nicole Byer, a well-known TV & podcast host, and actor has a book called #VeryFat #VeryBrave: The Fat Girl's Guide To Being #Brave And Not A Dejected, Melancholy, Down-In-The-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl In A Bikini which talks about her body size, being a black woman, and her journey of self-pride and acceptance.
Start Building Up Body Image Early
Addressing body image early in life is essential for kids' self-esteem and their growth, development, and overall health.
Children may experience body dissatisfaction even at a young age. Common Sense Media found that more than 50% of girls and nearly 33% of boys between the ages of 6 and 8 felt that their ideal weight was less than their current weight. 25% of the kids had tried some form of dieting by the age of seven, the results revealed.
Some helpful books on the matter are both engaging and fun for children to read on their own or with a loved one. They explain in terms that kids will fully grasp.
An excellent book for kids is Shapesville. Set in a small town, five friends of various shapes, sizes, colors, and talents celebrate what makes them unique. Simple, rhyming verse and playful illustrations introduce early learning concepts.
The Colors of Us is another great read, introducing skin color into the conversation for children and why people of all cultures are special.
Body Image Issues Extend To All Genders
Body positivity and neutrality are concepts that may have been derived from the projection of the ideal female form. Still, men and other genders are also afflicted with body issues.
Almost half of the 215 men surveyed by The Good Men Project expressed some level of dissatisfaction with their bodies, and 86% expressed a desire to change certain parts of them. Over one-third of the sample reported body dissatisfaction, which was even higher among college men, with over 50% reporting body unhappiness - a higher rate than previously reported.
Those not part of the heteronormative population often struggle with body displeasure and dysmorphia. Transgender and non-binary folks may experience both gender and body dysmorphia simultaneously.
Culture Plays A Role In Body Image, Too
Media images deeply influence body images, like advertisements and campaigns that depict the supposedly 'perfect' body size, shape, and frame. Historically, capitalism and colonialism have played a role in the industry.
Unfortunately, there exists a longstanding, underlying assertion that people's skin is supposed to be a certain way—blemish-free and of a particular shade. While this is ever-evolving and brands are making steps forward, it can be intimidating for those who don't fit into one 'look.' This can include people of color, the differently-abled, and other groups.
Overall, a large part of the population contends with body image at least part of the time. Anything that can be done to educate the public about ever-changing roles and expectations is good. We're proud to carry the abovementioned titles here at Booksio and believe every individual brings their unique beauty into the world.
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