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How Online Body Positivity Has Evolved And Why The Movement Is Now More Powerful

Are your social media habits supporting, or opposing, the movement?

When body positivity comes up, what comes to mind? More often than not, it's two things: women and weight. 


Since the body positivity movement exploded on the Internet in the last three years, generating over four million uses of the #bodypositivity hashtag on social media platforms, it's gone through a several rounds of scrutiny resulting in change which, we're happy to tell you, has mostly been for the better. (The hashtag has almost nine million mentions on Instagram alone, as of this writing). 


If, in the past, the idea of body positivity was strongly associated with unattainable beauty standards and diversifying the definition of what makes a person beautiful, you'll be happy to know that it's metamorphosed into a wide-reaching idea that includes everything that has to do with, well, our bodies.





Things like body hair, skin pigmentation, asymmetry, and even medical conditions that affect body parts traditionally associated with physical beauty (like alopecia and baldness, or vitiligo and skin tones) have been factored into the body positivity movement and it's great. It took society long enough to acknowledge that body positivity goes well beyond discussions about waistlines and weighing scales!


It's a shift powered by social media that's gaining more and more traction every day, and below, we tell you more about the ways in which body positivity has transformed over time. 


Take it as a time to reflect on your social media habits, too. Ask yourself, "Are the images, videos, and content I like, share, and comment on in support of this change or can I be more discerning and conscious of my actions on the Internet?"


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Beyond curves

While plus-size women were the original audience of body positivity, women on the skinner side of the spectrum have now been enjoying representation, too. Body positivity once meant embracing curves not being pressured to drop pounds to look like the beautifully proportioned women presented in the media—and it still does! But fortunately, it now also means not feeling bad about wanting to gain weight if your body is naturally thin. 




Thin girls don't worry about having to cut inches; instead, they can excessively preoccupy themselves with working out to achieve defined muscle tone, while some even consider going under knife to gain humps and bumps, albeit artificially. 


Remember: body positivity applies to all sizes. 


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Born with it

This is a tough one to manage for people affected it, but they have a handful of social media personalities to thank for paving the way for them. 


There are a few medical conditions that individuals are born with, can't change, and affect body parts traditionally associated with being "beautiful." Conditions like alopecia (a condition that causes hair on to fall out, often in patches), vitiligo (a condition that causes skin to develop pale patches over time), and even more common diagnoses like psoriasis and eczema have all caused insecurities for those who have them.








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It's International Alopecia Day! I believe that people want to understand the unknown because we are naturally curious creations & wish to know more about what is beyond what we see, hear, touch & smell...beyond what we feel. Ancient Egyptians had no hair because they removed it all & wigs & hair pieces were symbols of who you were in those ancient times. All the while the Romans thought it was vulgar. I have mentioned before about Maasai women in southern Kenya & northern Tanzania traditionally having very short hair, or no hair at all & that they are some of the most beautiful women in the world! Some people believe I'm ill & I understand why they might think this. I believe in education & understanding & whenever I meet someone who believes I'm ill, I explain that I am the same person with hair, as I am without. Some people have told me they believe I shouldn't be happy because I have no hair, someone once said this after watching a multi-million $ advert on TV for a brand new hair enrichment product. We are all passed messages, some of them are true & some of them are false. We must protect our freedom to speak so that we can eventually arrive at the truth about who told us what & why. Some messages are innocent, others are deliberately designed to disturb each other & divide us, many are created to bring us together. My message for International Alopecia Day is simple & purely one for all to seek a better understanding of others. Having no hair is beautiful, I don't just believe that, I know it because I live it. I also know that other people might think that I have to tell myself this to survive & I understand why they might want to believe this too. I have met many people who are free to think what they want to think but all I ask of everyone today & all I wish for everyone, is to learn & understand why I believe what I believe & why I see what I see. Whether you are ancient Egyptian or Roman in your appreciation of what hair is, understand & respect each other. Joelle x . . . #alopecia #internationalalopeciaday #alopeciaawareness #joelle #summer #budapest

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They can stop them from doing seemingly ordinary things like donning hairstyles they want to try out, wearing clothes they like, enjoying posting photos of themselves on social media, and sometimes, even going at all in fear of being gawked at by the ignorant. 


These days, those doing the gawking will be scorned (and later on, hopefully educated) as body positivity has pushed for acceptance and understanding of people who might look different—but aren't any less beautiful. 


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All natural

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with wanting to try out products and procedures for body enhancement. If that's your cup of tea, enjoy every sip! However, the problems arises when people feel the need to change what's "naturally them," all for the sake of attaining some made-up standard of beauty, and that without said products and procedures, they can never feel good about the skin they're in. Enjoying enhancements and obsessing over nipping and tucking are two different things. 


Often, this applies to erasing "flaws" and "imperfections" that bodies simply have. Stretch marks, hyperpigmentation, post-birth belly pouches (or even uneven boobs!), birthmarks, cellulite, you name it—there are so many things that bodies naturally have that people will describe as unattractive, a turn off, and just plain ugly. 










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Change isn’t always comfortable or easy. Perhaps because our whole lives we are driven to resist it. ⁣ ⁣ When I was 12 my parents decided to sell our house and build a new one. ⁣ I refused to go see it. ⁣ I didn’t want to move. ⁣ I didn’t want change. ⁣ I didn’t want to acknowledge that it was happening. With or without my stamp of approval. ⁣ ⁣ Eventually we did move. ⁣ And that new home? ⁣ That’s the home I consider as my childhood home. ⁣ It became the one I made the most tangible memories in. The one that took me back in whenever I needed it. ⁣ ⁣ I am so glad I didn’t sit in my own resistance and bitterness forever, or I’d miss out on all the good stuff that came after change. ⁣ ⁣ But change isn’t always comfortable or easy. Sometimes it’s exciting and unexpected. Sometimes it’s terrifying and predictable. ⁣ ⁣ So as my bodily home changes from one to another, I remember the memories we have made as I allow myself to be open to the idea that perhaps, the best is yet to come.

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Thank the courageous men and women who have braved the stormy seas of the Internet to calm them and send the message of, "Natural is beautiful." It helps to know that the things our bodies go through and have aren't at all reason to feel any less worthy of feeling beautiful. 


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A choice

This is probably the most contested body positivity topic of them all as it's so closely intertwined with feminism and women having the right to choose. 


Body positivity is inherently that—a choice. You can do whatever it is you want to feel as beautiful as can be, but if you can believe it, there are still beauty and body-related decisions that women get made fun of for (and get a ton of flack for) should they choose them. What are these decisions, you might ask? 


For one thing, there's choosing to keep body hair or not. Shaving, waxing, threading, laser-ing—not every gal is into these things. Some women are totally fine with leg, underarm, eyebrow, upper lip, and yes, pubic hair, and that's just the way it's going to be. No shaming necessary from those who feel differently. 







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"There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty."~Steve Maraboli 🌸✨ Not just woman, but everyone! Imagine if everyone just decided that today was the day they loved themselves and embraced every part of them selves. Accepting and loving your body and your "flaws" because you know they are what makes you who you are. If you are focused on being true to yourself in every moment, you are less concerned what others think, which will lead to peace of mind. When you have nothing to hide and you can freely be yourself, there is a profound peace/confidence you will emanate to the world that will inspire others. ✨💝🤘🏼I also just posted a new YouTube video on why I don't shave my body hair and how it helped me(link in bio)☺ #bodypositive #spreadlove #behappy #namaste #hairywomen #healing #healthylifestyle #selfcare #loveyourself #beyourself #bethechange #divine #inspireothers #inspirationalquotes #positivity #goodvibesonly #lifeisbeautiful #hairy #gratitude #weareone #higherconsciousness #freespirit #empowerment #smile #feelgood

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Older women who decide to go gray and forego hair dye also sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of raised eyebrows, puzzled looks, and unsolicited advice about how to maintain youthfulness. It's literally hair pigmentation—today's body positivity lets women (and men!) do as they please with it! 






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“I realized that how covered up my gray hair was was starting to define who I had become and how I viewed myself. The more my TRUE roots were peeking out, the less I felt I had my sh*t together. Even more, the bigger story I was telling myself was that other people didn’t think I had my sh*t together! Have you ever felt that way? Like, how others thought about your appearance was an indicator of how good you looked and how good you felt about yourself? It sounds ridiculous, but somehow, we have been conditioned to think, by some notion set by some unknown standard, that unless we have our grays covered up, we are not caring enough about ourselves. And the crazier thing is that this is not the perception society has with men! When a man starts going salt and peppery, he’s seen as sexy and established. But, when a woman starts showing her grays, there’s a stigma attached to it like there is something wrong with her life. She’s seen as haggard, unkempt, stressed, in distress, problemed, careless, out of control, out of touch…I mean the list of negative thoughts could go on and on! But that’s not how I felt or was! I was none of those things! So at that point, I decided I would stop consuming myself with how much and where the gray was starting to peek out, when my next appointment would be scheduled, and what other people thought my hair reflected about me and what’s going on in my life.” This is an excerpt from @lavenderwalls blog post, go to her profile to check it out! #grombre #gogrombre #grombabe

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And as we mentioned earlier, things like moles, birthmarks, freckles—things you're born with or your body naturally develops over time—are also up to a person, whether they wish to keep them as is, or get them cosmetically removed. If you ever encounter someone who can't look past these things and can't understand that commenting on how you would look (and feel) better without them, you know what to do. 


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Men welcome

Last but not least is something that should have been obvious to us from the get go. Body positivity isn't just an issue women face, but it concerns men, too!


Men are pressured just the same to look like the celebs, fitness personalities, and models that dominate their social media feeds. If you think they don't worry about belly rolls, soft arms, skinny legs, and how to attain a sharper-than-a-razor's-edge jawline, you are sorely mistaken. 






Also, it's important to know that it's likely more difficult for men to talk about feeling comfortable with their own bodies as conversations like this are still stereotypically, and inaccurately, associated with being effeminate and un-masculine—all the more reason it is to normalize including men in the body positivity movement, because for all we know, they could need the encouragement it brings more than we realize. 


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There you have it!


These are but a few, but very powerful, ways in which the body positivity movement as presented by social media trends and shifts has changed for the better over time.


With this knowledge, hopefully we call become more discerning about the kind of content we patronize online. More than that, this should also teach us a lesson or two about sensitivity; think twice about sharing a photo, link, or tagging as friend in a video that might cause them unintentional hurt or offense. 


And when it comes to yourself, know that your body is lovely just the way it is, and the person it belongs you—that's you—is one fine, beautiful human being, indeed! 


Opening images from Pexels and Unplash