I would like to begin by saying the body positive movement has made amazing strides towards accepting and celebrating different body types. It has made more people, especially women, feel confident and happy. However, despite good intentions, it still reaffirms the idea that beauty is the most important thing about women.
The body positivity movement is trying to change the traditional standards of beauty, rather than dismantling them and saying women don’t need to be beautiful in the first place.
I once told someone, “I’m not beautiful but that’s ok”, as soon as I said it they gasped and frantically reassured me. ‘Don’t put yourself down! You’re gorgeous!” she was so quick to reassure me because women’s looks hold a vice grip over their self-esteem. By saying I was not beautiful, she felt that I was putting myself down but I wasn’t, I was taking away the power my beauty had on my self-worth.
No matter the good intentions she had, my friend was once again pulling me back into the jaws of the patriarchy that tells me only my looks matter. In a society where people hurt and starve themselves to look “beautiful”, why should we give beauty any value when it has proven more harmful than helpful.
For example, an Italian restaurant in Brazil called Spoleto decided to create their own body positive exercise. One day they created a rule: beautiful women don’t pay for their meal, as a way to ‘reward’ them. To be classified as ‘beautiful’ women simply had to look in a mirror and say ‘I am beautiful’, then they could walk away with their free meal.
But what if someone had refused, what if they had said why should only my beauty grant me a free meal but not my other qualities? Would you still give them a free meal if they said “I am intelligent”, “I am bold”, “I am fearless,” ? Would these qualities not be worth a free meal, are they any lesser than beauty?
The video claims Spoleto helped women see that beauty comes from within but how can that be true when you thrust a mirror in their face to only see what’s on the outside.
The Body Positivity movement must change to stop forcing the idea that ‘Everyone is beautiful!’ but instead, that beauty should have no impact on how society views or treats you. Even more important it should have no impact on how you view or treat yourself.
Not being beautiful should now lower your self-worth because there are countless more important things like intellect, perseverance, kindness, confidence, grit, and so many more qualities than millions of women hold. Qualities that are infinitely more important, women have so much more to offer the world than a pretty face. We need to eliminate the idea that being beautiful even matters because that is an idea more pervasive than a narrow type of beauty.