For decades, women have been told they need to change their bodies to be beautiful. In recent years we have been challenging that narrative to make the world a more body-positive place for everyone. These best friends are doing just that with their “same outfit, different body types” pictures and videos, proving that all bodies are beautiful. (1)
Best Friends, Same Outfit, Different Body Types
Denise and Maria are two best friends living in New York City. They began sharing videos on TikTok of the two of them wearing the exact same outfit. Their bodies are different, so naturally, the outfits look different on each of them. They want to prove that despite their different body types, the outfits look beautiful no matter who the wearer is. (1)
Their videos went viral, so they built off of that success and started the #stylenotsize hashtag campaign. Since then, other women started posting their own photos using the hashtag, many along with their best friends. This is what true body positivity should look like. (1)
The Importance of Body Positivity For Health
Body positivity goes a long way towards improving our health – mental, emotional, and physical. The stigma around body weight and the pressure that we put people, but especially women, under to be “perfect” or to tie their self-worth to weight and body-related things does more harm than just making us sad or self-conscious.
1. Weight Stigma Physically Harms Our Bodies
Body shaming causes stress, which wreaks havoc on our bodies and our health. We all have different body types and that’s ok.
A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, looked at the health implications of dieting, weight stigma, and stress. They told one group that they were part of a shopping psychology study. They were then told they were being removed from the study because they wouldn’t fit into designer clothes. Their cortisol was much higher than that of the control group who weren’t “rejected” due to their size. (2)
Not only did this show how weight stigma can lead to low self-esteem and depression, but the stress resulting from it can become a never-ending cycle. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can cause your body to store fat in the abdominal region. Fat in that area is dangerous and can lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (2)
High levels of cortisol also cause many people to want to eat more. They “stress eat” and tend to gravitate towards high sugar and high-fat foods. This, of course, can cause weight gain, perpetuating this cycle. (2)
Most importantly, the study found that the pattern wasn’t just found in curvier participants, but that body shaming and weight stigma had the same effect no matter what that person weighed. (2)
2. The Problem With Body Mass Index (BMI)
For years, BMI has been used by doctors as a determinant of whether or not someone was at a healthy weight. The issue is that BMI, which accounts for your weight versus how tall you are, doesn’t take into account the difference between muscle and fat. (3)
Muscle is denser and weighs more than fat, so you can end up with even professional athletes who fall in the overweight category of a BMI scale because they have so much muscle mass. (3)
The biggest issue is that people fear going to the doctor for important check-ups and screenings because they are afraid of their doctor taking their measurements and BMI. Fat-shaming essentially prevents people from seeking the medical care they need because they are afraid of being shamed based on something that might not even be an accurate assessment of their health. (3) So while BMI can be a useful tool, it by no means gives the whole picture.
Focus On Health and Accept Your Body Type As It Is
Our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and whether or not your body is bigger or smaller doesn’t mean you are more or less healthy. Rather than focusing on size and a number on a scale, you should be focusing on:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating a balanced diet with lots of fresh vegetables
- Exercising regularly and incorporating movement into your day
- Sleeping well
- Moderating your intake of alcohol, treats, and processed or fast food
From there, you want to work on loving and appreciating your body more. There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight and be healthier, however, it is important and more sustainable if it comes from a place of loving your body and not from one of hate.
Some things you can do to help love your body more are:
- Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself
- Follow ones that make you feel good and celebrate diversity and self-acceptance
- Treat your body well and give it the nourishment it needs
- Talk to yourself the way you would to a friend
- Combat all negative thoughts with positive and encouraging ones
- Lift up other women, both on social media and in real life
- Have clothing in your closet that you like and that fit your body the way it is now – you can tailor them or buy new ones if/when your body changes
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you have bad days – we all do. Simply continue to promote body positivity both to yourself and those around you, and eventually, your hard days will become less frequent.
Learning to love yourself is an ongoing process, but the better you get at it the happier, less stressed, and healthier you will be.