As we all know; February is the month of love. This is the time where those in relationships, partnerships or marriages appreciate their loved ones by buying gifts, taking them to the spa, out to a fancy restaurant; or whisking them out of town for a weekend getaway. Meanwhile, for those who are single, it’s usually just another month of singleness. BUT, should this month only be for those who are coupled up? Shouldn’t it also be special for those who are single? For everyone in fact? What if the month of February was used to appreciate not only our loved ones but our bodies as well? Instead of wallowing in sadness or loneliness, what if we embraced ourselves and gained some confidence in our vessels? What if we put all that energy into a Body Positivity Challenge?
Thick’N’Stylish (thicknstylish.wordpress.com), my plus size fashion and body positivity blog is currently running a 28 Day Body Positivity Challenge where I encourage individuals to spend this month of February focusing on themselves by gaining confidence in their bodies. The 28 Day Body Positivity Challenge aims to bring awareness to a topic that I believe needs to be discussed in Zimbabwean and African societies: Body Positivity.
Body Positivity is defined as, “The assertion that every person deserves to have a positive body image regardless of society or pop culture’s perception of the ideal body, shape and size”. In a world that is structured with norms and beauty standards, many who do not fit into this perception of ‘perfection’ are ignored, marginalised and left to believe that their bodies do not have any worth.
Who are these marginalised individuals? The Body Positivity Movement identifies the following as those who are excluded from the stereotypical idea of beauty:
Although Body Positivity advocates for the acceptance of ALL bodies, it aims to challenge societal norms and ensure the correct representation of all shapes and sizes. The movement fights to help those with body image problems to gain confidence in their bodies by creating a healthy relationship with them. Lastly, it aims to address society’s unrealistic body and beauty standards. We cannot all be one size fits all.
How then can one become Body Positive and use that as self-care? The answer is simple. “Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” Self-care is crucial for you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. Dear Body Sessions: The 28 Day Body Positivity Challenge allows you to take time out to begin to unapologetically and unconditionally love your body by taking part in activities that help you gain confidence in yourself and at the same time take care of your well-being.
This challenge requires you to spend more time with yourself, discovering your body and learning new ways of loving it whilst simultaneously unlearning certain bad habits or thinking patterns that do your body no good. It is not possible for you to have a healthy relationship with your body if you only feed it toxicity. The 28 Day Body Positivity Challenge wants you to put yourself first and face any issues with your body that you may currently have.
Do you find yourself looking in the mirror and critiquing parts of your body ? Or do you always compare yourself to others, wishing you looked like them? Have you always felt like you are not small enough and the only way you will be happy is if you lost weight? Day One of the Challenge tasks you to identify why you dislike these aspects of your body and why you feel the way you do. This means having a very uncomfortable conversation with yourself to find the root of why you detest what you see in the mirror. It however gets easier after this. This is where real self-care begins.
Let us touch on a few activities in detail. One of the challenge days requires you to wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself. It is true when they say fashion is therapy. By just putting on an outfit that makes you feel extra confident; even if you are not going anywhere, you will see the difference that will make. When you look good, you feel good and that means activating body positivity through self-care. If you also take time to plan your outfits every day, you will begin to notice a change in your thinking about your body. You will start exuding more confidence and before you know it, you are becoming body positive.
Social media can make you or break you. It affects a person’s mental state as well as how they perceive their bodies. The images online can be detrimental to how you live your life if you compare yourself to everything you see. On day seven, challenge goers are encouraged to curate their social media feeds, meaning filtering/unfollowing triggers and following pages that uplift you. Imagine following accounts that help you find ways to appreciate yourself more, bring positive energy into your life as well as develop all aspects of your life. It may be time consuming but it will be beneficial in the end. Make an effort to surround yourself with the right kind of energy; it is essentially taking care of yourself.
Self-care is simple. Find the small things that bring joy to your life. Playing uplifting music, complimenting yourself or others, writing love letters to your body,sending gratitude to your vessel and treating yourself to something that will either nourish or make your body happy: these are all forms of self-care that we should adopt. Life is too short to hate our bodies, to not appreciate the only vessels we have and to think negatively about ourselves. By doing the 28 Day Body Positivity Challenge we are learning to love and appreciate not only our bodies, but we are also accepting all bodies as being important. In this way, we are breaking beauty standards that do not accommodate the diversity of bodies in the world and creating a safe space for everyone to flourish in their own skin.
You can learn more about Body Positivity by following Thick’N’Stylish’s blog series Dear Body Sessions, where I unpack and discuss topics relating to the body such as body and fat shaming and body acceptance.
By Delyse Gimani