Feelin’ myself: A guide to body positivity

The word “healthy” is a word that we have struggled to fully understand in today’s society. When most of us think of being healthy, we use our physical appearance as our go-to determinant and that is how our culture has always been in America.

We applaud and praise those who lose large amounts of weight and admire those who stick to rigorous routines just to meet a certain number on the scale or get that “perfect bod” that is publicized in almost every magazine at the start of summer season.

The contagion of attaining this ideal image affects the lives of those who become addicted to achieving and maintaining it and others who already struggle with feeling good about their bodies. This fixation of achieving a perfect physical image is actually making us really unhealthy and that is wrong.

As Marie Southard Ospina put it, “all bodies are worthy of self love, self care, and acceptance. All bodies are allowed to feel beautiful, regardless of their color or jean size or health status or how attractive you personally find them to be.”

Being healthy is intertwined with several aspects of a person’s life and requires an emotional, physical and psychological personal evaluation. Other people shouldn’t dictate or even comment on what they think is right because overall, we all have different definitions of being healthy.

Just because you’re considered overweight doesn’t mean that being thin is right or healthy and vice-versa. The problem comes from singling out and dictating a specific body image as one that is right for all. That is when you find people body shaming each other in order to justify their own image as socially acceptable. People’s opinions about your health and well-being should be irrelevant as long as you feel mentally and physically positive about yourself.

There shouldn’t be a certain criteria in order to be comfortable with your body. Take for example, the Body Mass Index, something that has been dreaded and feared by kids as they go through physical education in American schools. The BMI is a mathematical equation that is used to calculate an individual’s body fat, but doesn’t take into account how much of that weight is actually fat. It could be from bone mass, water or muscle mass. This can distort a child’s confidence in their own self-image.

We are not helping our psyches either when American media portrays certain body images as acceptable to make fun of. If you’ve seen the movie Pitch Perfect, then I’m sure you are aware of the character Fat Amy, who is played by Australian actress Rebel Wilson.

Rebel revealed that she cannot lose more than a couple of pounds if she wants to continue filming. Her bosses want her to maintain her weight as if it’s the only thing that makes her comedy career sparkle. It’s disgusting that it’s acceptable to prohibit somebody’s personal goals toward their own physical well-being all for other people’s comedic joy. That isn’t what comedy nor Americans are about.

Despite these problems, Portland has been a progressive leader in body positivity. There are places such as Health Club, which is a body-positive barbell gym that focuses on offering people of all shapes, sizes and identities the opportunity to learn transformative movement techniques in a fun and comfortable environment.

The PSU rec center also has been a center which seeks and supports diversity and respect in their facilities. As someone who had to change their habits due to my family history of diabetes, I felt comfortable walking in with no previous knowledge of exercise and I’ve learned a lot by going through their programs.

Overall, body positivity needs be a human right for everyone. Everyone deserves to be free of criticism and be comfortable in their own skin and I encourage you all to be free of such judgmental atmospheres.