“The Body Positive Movement is a feminist movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being.” – Taken from Wikipedia
Ever since I can remember I have felt self-conscious about myself, and suffered with insecurities about my appearance. In a society where from a young age women are told what the ideals of beauty are – we see them in glossy fashion magazines, on TV, and now on social media – it is extremely hard for any woman, of any shape or size, to feel good about herself and not define herself based on her looks.
Now some of you may tell me, what do I have to worry about? I’m slim and tall after all. But that is where we must realize that this movement does not only refer to curvy and fuller figures, but also to “skinny” and thin. I have heard the term “skinny” directed at me countless times, and let me tell you, it’s not really a compliment. Just as women can be shamed for being on the larger end of the scale, so can women who lack certain “curves”, or who are judged as “anorexic”, or told they need to eat more. Some women have a faster metabolism than others, and struggle to put on weight, no matter how hard they try. Others have a slow metabolism, and do eat healthy and work out, yet their weight won’t budge. And then there are others who suffer from some form of eating disorder. As a result, today’s unrealistic standards of beauty lead to a variety of mental and physical health problems in girls and young women.
Consider this though; who has the right to define what beauty really looks like? Who said that we must all strive to look like Victoria’s Secret supermodels in order to feel good about ourselves? The images portrayed in magazines and social media are not real. The majority of them are photo shopped, and use special lighting and makeup to give the illusion of the “perfect” body. But even the fashion world has started to come around and brands are beginning to adopt a healthier approach in promoting themselves.
Take for example plus-size model Ashley Graham and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey who earlier this year landed their own cover on Sports Illustrated magazine. Or more recently, Victoria’s Secret released unretouched photos of model Jasmine Tookes wearing the 2016 fantasy bra, showing visible stretchmarks; a move that is quite unexpected of the brand, but yet another indication that the body positive movement is on the rise.
A more compelling case is that of Charli Howard, a 23 year old British model who was sacked by her agency for being “too big” at 5”8 tall and UK size 6-8. Like many other girls who enter the world of modelling, with enough insecurities of her own to begin with, she responded to her agency in a video titled “Her Modelling Agency Dumped Her, So She drops the Truth on Them”. She has since gone on to create the #iamallwoman project, which encourages women to embrace their flaws and imperfections and to feel more positive and confident about themselves and their bodies. As they state on the project’s website (AllWomanProject), “Our physical attributes do not define us as women; our strength and character does.”
From my experience as a professional model, coupled with my own insecurities as a young woman, I can tell you that the modelling industry has only done more damage to my self-esteem. Despite the lovely photos which accentuate and flatter your “good side”, the fashion world can make you feel inadequate and less of a woman. Instead of helping you love yourself, it draws your attention to what is “wrong” with you. Of course I do enjoy modelling, and working alongside some amazingly talented creative people, but it’s time the Body Positive Movement played a bigger role in the modelling/fashion industry.
Women should be encouraged from a young age to focus on their good qualities; their strength, their character, their brains, their talents. Most importantly, they must be encouraged to believe in themselves. We all need to start accepting ourselves and our bodies, and learn to love ourselves for who we truly are. After all is said and done, our bodies will eventually deteriorate, we will grow old and wrinkly, and we will not be here forever. Our bodies are nothing more than “vessels”, it is our soul, our inner beauty that is eternal.
– Josie xoxo