Is body positivity doing more harm than good?
Being a woman is rife with politics. We are questioned for just being. For simply inhabiting a body. I mean, is your mons pubis beach ready?
It is ridiculous. And we know it, we really do. But from the very moment we are conceived (pink for girls!), we’re told what to wear and how to look, and how we adhere to this will determine our success in life.
Answer this: would you turn up to a job interview with hairy legs?
And there it is. It is so deeply ingrained into our psyche, the ridiculous is now our norm.
But women are fighting back.
Body positivity—or hashtag bopo—is a part of this momentum. Defined by Wikipedia:
Body positivity is acceptance and appreciation of all human body types. It is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, and be accepting of their own bodies as well as the bodies of others.
In other words, bopo is a collective ‘up yours’ to society. It’s taking a stand. It is permission to be our unapologetic selves. It’s for every single body on earth.
A scout around the social media traps will show you how the movement is growing. We are seeing more types of bodies represented, enabling us to feel included and represented. We are being told we are beautiful.
It is the antidote we have been so desperate for. Or is it?
Peer deeper into said traps and you’ll see the exact same attitude we’re trying to fight—in many cases, amplified: judgement.
We are still being judged. We will always be up for judgement, no matter from which perspective, and we will always fall short of the mark. A mark, mind, that is always shifting. Perfected your skinny brows? Make them bushy. Have a little bum? Get a big one. And the latest look for the mons pubis? Who knows.
You could argue that if we’re going to be judged anyway, then ignore the haters and just do your thing. In theory, I think this is an excellent idea. You do you, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can stick it. Your body, your rules.
But ultimately, we are still making this all about ourselves, and therein lies the problem.
We are looking at this through the wrong lens.
What happens if we look at this through God’s lens instead of ours? We see our body as a beautiful gift, given to us by God. He wants us to enjoy our bodies in every thing they can do (including sex), and to acknowledge and thank Him, the gift-giver, for the privilege.
Imagine this. Your music teacher gives you a gift. It is a beautiful, longed-for violin. You:
(a) thank the violin for the gift of itself and for teaching you how to play, ignoring your music teacher
(b) thank your music teacher for the gift of the violin and for giving you the skills to play such a beautiful instrument
Option (a) sounds obnoxious but this is what we do. We give ourselves credit for what our bodies can do (MAKING BABIES), rather than thank God for giving us such a precious gift. Bodies which have been created in his image, mind:
Genesis 1:27 | So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
To be even more hurtful to God, we turn to other humans for approval. We allow our bodies to be judged by beings who had nothing to do with its creation. And we accept and respond to that judgement!
Here are three examples from the Bible that have helped me understand the situation looking through God’s lens:
1 Corinthians 1:31 | Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 | 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Luke 12:22 | Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
So what should be focus on?
Mark 12:30-31 | 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I read these verses and I feel ashamed. Ashamed that I spend so much time engrossed in myself, whether it be in admiration or criticism. I am so easily influenced by what I think I should do to please myself—I’m looking at you, bopo—that I am turning my back on my Creator.
But once I stop making it about myself (sigh, the story of my life), I feel His love and His mercy. I want to give thanks, to devote my life to the being that created me. A life that I wouldn’t even have if it weren’t for Him.
Unlike knowing what to do with my brows, God’s goal posts never move. I always know where I stand.
The reality is we still live in a world full of judgment. We still consume media and go to job interviews. The difference is where we position ourselves in the picture, and who we thank for our gift.
Jeremiah sums things up:
Jeremiah 9:23-24 | 23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.