When Body Positivity Isn’t Enough


I’m not here to preach about why you should love your weight, or to go on and on about self-image and body positivity. Instead, I want to point out that maybe there are other things more important than our weights. Other parts of life that might improve our self-esteem and self-love if we put them first. Isn’t anyone else sick of hearing the terms “fat shaming” and “skinny shaming?” Why are we shaming people anyways? Why are we emphasizing “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stuff? And what about articles that say “beauty comes in all shapes and sizes”?

It’s sad that this needs to even be emphasized in today’s culture, because it’s common sense, not news hot off the press. Of course beauty comes in all shapes and sizes! Isn’t this a given? Beauty comes in all forms!

We are all just DIFFERENT. And somehow because of how much we as humans focus on categories, and have a desperate need to categorize every little thing, we can’t seem to accept that each body is just beauty, and uniqueness is what makes each beautiful.

We are also going way too far in focusing on beauty from the outside – why is this so essential? Why are we teaching young children that what they look like, including their body, is more important than who they are? While of course the body positivity movement has many strengths, and sends out a crucial message, its downfall is that it’s not really the movement we need right now. When we are constantly focusing on “body positivity” and feeling good about our bodies, we are still ignorant to what we should actually care about: bettering ourselves as people…being better human beings! We need to work to shift this focus to loving ourselves. We need to aspire to use our energy to better our worlds, and parts of ourselves that are greater than our bodies. For all of us now, and for generations to come, we need to make it our obligation to change the emphasis of society from our appearance and our weight to our connections with others, our dreams, our intelligence, and to our passions.

The “key” to a meaningful life is reaching the realization that body weight is not synonymous with happiness. I can tell you this personally. And I mean this with all my heart. I have been smaller than I am today. I have been bigger than I am today. And while at these times, I was at a different place in life, I can say that my weight never affected my happiness or my joy.

What DID affect my well-being was becoming attached to the idea that this number or weight, or what I saw in the mirror, should dictate my self-worth.

So I let it affect me.

But simply from a straightforward perspective, my weight meant nothing to my happiness. What matters is where your self-worth comes from. There is so much more to life than weight. I am finally starting to accept the fact that people will stick around at whatever weight I am. And if they don’t, it’s not tied to my weight. I am no longer going to base my self-worth on my appearance or my weight. Plus, as they say, and as I know, no specific weight equals pretty, and no specific set weight equals happy.

Happiness is an inside job, and people are the most beautiful when they are the most comfortable. Your body keeps you alive and treats you well, so it is only fair that you love your body back.

I do truly believe that we are the happiest when we are at our own ideal body weight. And I believe this because we end up reaching our ideal body weight when we are living our happiest life – your weight becomes secondary and falls into place naturally when you are at peace with life. This is because we are living a life in which our dreams, goals, and passions come first, and our weight is put to the back burner.

Beauty and individuality come from within; true beauty is a light that shines from your heart and soul that doesn’t need to be validated by society. We need to deconstruct the societal view that physical beauty is of the utmost value, and start to strengthen the view that inner courage and individuality are what we truly must value for a better society.

This overemphasis on body and beauty is polluting the minds of people and humanity. Likewise, our definition of a beautiful body often tends to be very narrow, and not necessarily even attainable.

So what good does this do for our psychological well-being? Beauty should never be defined in such a way – there should never be set parameters for anything. Especially beauty for the soul. And that is what we must start to move towards. True beauty comes from the inside – the only pure beauty comes from the inside. It’s what you care about and what you are passionate about that makes you attractive…that helps you to better the world. Anything on the outside is simply created through social constructions. We aren’t valuing people for the right reasons. And with so much going on in the world, if we could at least see people for what they are below the surface, we have so much to gain and little to lose. Why are we so scared to knock down these barriers?

You are so much more than a number on a scale, or a comparison to what this number “could” be. Don’t waste precious time allowing a number to dictate your thoughts. Don’t even bother thinking about it – be self-positive. Love yourself. Work on your self-esteem. Focus on what’s below the surface. Try to be the genuine, real life, vulnerable person you are. A number cannot measure the quality of your life. It cannot measure your hopes or dreams; your aspirations or passions. It has nothing to do with your identity – who you are as a person. Who you are as a friend..,a daughter a son…a parent,..a girlfriend…a boyfriend…cultivate your real person and this will change everything.

Stop caring so deeply about the size of your jeans or dress, and instead start caring about the things that make a difference in your perception of the world. The things that you can do to give back to others and to improve your own life. If you begin to focus more on yourself as a person, and you put all your energy into bettering this person, you will better yourself and you will love those around you even more – because you will be capable of this! Nurture the parts of you that help you that teach you to love the world and love your life. If you can truly cultivate your best qualities, you will automatically better humanity.

Begin to focus more and more on your values and your morals, what you believe in, what you care about.

What do you live for? Dig deep down into your heart. Let your vulnerability shine through as you express all the ways you have learned to love others. Show off your sense of humor. And your being. What is your role on this earth? Find out what is unique to you and use it to paint your own canvas, to make a masterpiece. Use every color you can imagine. Make it bold. Make it delicate. Just make it yours.

You can be so much more of you if you actually find out who you are deep down, rather than who you are on the surface. Be proud of how intelligent you, or how empathetic you are. Maybe you are quirky and downright weird – embrace it! That is your “you-ness.” Are you the shoulder your friends cry on in the hard times? Are you the sensitive one who cares about every little detail of life? Whatever you are, start to emphasize it. Find out what your strengths are, and go out of your way to let them guide your life. Let them help you to design a life that you are proud of. Follow in the footsteps of those you admire – those you look up to. Find out what you love and really allow it to set your life on fire, in the best way possible. Follow your passions, and let them fill any voids in your life. Focus on being bighearted. Ask how the cashier’s day is going. Smile at the stranger you pass by on the street, even if they don’t smile first. Go out of your way to share a little bit of happiness with everyone you encounter. You can light up someone’s entire day, with just going a little out of your way to let someone know you care about them. We need more love in this world, and we always will!

You are so lovely so you must remember that time is precious. Don’t waste it by letting worthless anxiety over your weight or your body overpower your beautiful, mindful thoughts. You have more to live for than this! Because life really can be wonderful – but to make it wonderful, we have to learn to put our energy into the right outlets and get rid of the mediocre thoughts. The thoughts that creep into your head about being uncomfortable in your body…these do not help you. They are hurtful. So to heal your own self, you need to dig deep and start to admire all of your wonderful qualities. All of your very unique quirks and even flaws! Sometimes if you dig deep enough, you realize that your flaws can easily change into strengths. Stop settling for body shaming and start striving towards being the best possible human being you can be.

To put it point blank, to shout it out from mountain tops, we must stop emphasizing that bodies are everything –that what you look like has nothing to do who you are! We don’t need to discuss it. We need to discuss more important things…we need to be more involved in the world around us. We need to cultivate kindness, relationships, love, and shift humanity. We do not need any more emphasis on bodies. Rather than a positive body image movement, what we desperately need in this world right now is a positive human being movement. A focus on what we truly are.

Let’s make a change. Let’s come together and change society.

Let’s focus on being better human beings. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

“there can be magic in the messes” @apeaceofwerk

Keep up with Colleen on Instagram, Amazon and linktr.ee

More From Thought Catalog