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My Problem With The ‘Body Acceptance’ Movement

woman in black tank top and black pants
Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

On my Instagram, I follow upwards of five accounts that promote body acceptance.  There is, apparently, a very important difference between the ‘body positivity movement’ and the ‘body acceptance movement’, but I couldn’t tell you what that was.  These accounts are wonderful, and I am sure do great things for many people, but their ideal just isn’t for me.

For the uninitiated, the body acceptance movement is a great social media-based movement in which, mostly women (although men are welcome), appreciate their bodies for the amazing things that they do. Creators who adopt the body acceptance philosophy often do not edit their photos and videos, they are honest about filters that are used, they show and celebrate normal-looking bodies in a bid to balance the photoshopped and overly filtered images we too often see on social media. All in all, it is a great movement that I encourage you to check out.

However, as someone who struggles a lot with comparison issues and BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) tendencies, the intended effect of these posts just doesn’t work on me. When I scroll through my feed and see posts of regular looking women dancing in their regular underwear, in regular lighting, completely unashamed and seemingly accepting their bodies, I just cannot relate. 

A video posted to Instagram stories by the wonderful @Georgieeswallow featured her doing exactly what I described above, she looked glowing and beautiful and above all, happy. Unfortunately, my reaction to the video was to become hyperaware of my stomach.  I watched, and rewatched (because once is never enough), as she nonchalantly touched her stomach as she danced, smiling her warm smile, and the comparisons immediately started. 

I sat in my living room and watched her dancing over and over again, I was cognizant that I should be absorbing the message of the movement and the post, I knew what the intended effect of the post was, but the comparison is overwhelming. I began to tell myself that my belly is more bloated than hers is, that if I was dancing like that in my pants, the vague outline of my ribcage would not be visible, even a little bit, that my body just doesn’t look like hers. 

The part of my brain that used to dominate began to make me regret the things I had eaten so far, I had to resist chugging water in a pointless bid to ‘boost’ my digestive system. 

So why am I telling you this?  I suppose the point of this article is to actually encourage you lovely readers to check out the body acceptance movement.  On the whole, it is wonderful, and while it doesn’t help me to accept my body, that is because of deep-seated issues that I have to work through myself, and not the fault of the movement. 

There are many body acceptance accounts that share wonderful content and it is always refreshing to see unedited images.  You may not gain the confidence to dance on the internet in your pants, but normalising diverse body shapes can’t be a bad thing, right?

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