Over the last few years, the body-positivity movement along with trends in self-love has exploded into our world with a fervour that matches the throes of young love.
Gone are the days where you see people telling you ‘how you have to look like to be loved’ and that ‘you just starve yourself for a few more days so that you’ll fit into a dress size’.
It started off with good intentions but like any other trend, I fear it’s slowly tipping onto the other side of the scale; its true purpose and meaning disfigured into something that shames instead of honours.
People have started asking: if you truly loved your body, why would you want it to change?
That wouldn’t make sense.
A fairly simple, innocent question, really.
But there’s something far more menacing at work here. Shame.
Shame has found itself yet another expression, hiding behind banners that cry out messages of self-love.
All of a sudden, it’s scandalous to say that you aren’t content with your body. The minute it gets out, you’re trampled and suffocated with claims of how you’re a traitor to women all around the world, how you’ve betrayed them, how you’re a disgrace to yourself.
I’ll say it now:
No, I’m not one of those people who work out for the love of sweat or for good health and strength. I work out to look good.
No, I didn’t eat that salad for dinner because I absolutely loved it. I ate the salad because I wanted to drop a few pounds.
No, I’m not content with my body. I want to be more toned and I want to be, gasp, leaner. Maybe these thoughts aren’t acceptable, but I won’t lie to myself by saying things I don’t mean.
I’m tired of excusing myself and my actions to people. It’s exhausting, the lying to yourself, lying to everyone around you, thinking of excuses, worrying about being convincing enough, being someone you aren’t: I’m sick and tired of it.
I used to feel like I’m doing something wrong by thinking these thoughts, that there must be something wrong with me if I can’t accept myself the way I am. And let me tell you; those feelings are as damaging as thinking that you are too fat to be pretty.
And let me get something clear: this isn’t a question of insecurity or self-hatred.
Yes, I do love myself. I love my body, I love my personality and I know that I deserve to be loved by someone else too.
But I’m not going to say that I love that extra layer of flab over my stomach or that I love those 10 pounds that I want to lose or that I love that I sometimes walk like a frog.
Because I don’t love all of that. They are a part of me and I simply don’t. And if you do, that’s great. I admire and respect you for that. But I don’t. It’s a personal thing. I want to change it.
And that doesn’t make me any less lovable.
At the end of the day, I want to be able to whatever I want to do without the shame, without the lies, without the excuses.
Because isn’t that what all of this is about?
Body-positivity, feminism, self-love, self-care, all of it, on a basic level is about owning your actions and doing whatever it is that you want.
And if you’re going to shame me for doing what I want to do under this very aegis, then what is the point in all of this?
Shame has merely found another incarnation, an even crueller one at that. Because now, it’s covered up in this sickly sweet façade of self-love.
Before, people walked up to me and said that I needed to lose a few pounds so that I can be ‘healthy’. Now, people walk up to me and say that I need to stop wanting to lose weight so that I can be ‘body-positive’.
There is no difference. Either way, I’m judged and shamed for something I’m doing and then pressurized to do something I don’t want to do.
We’re at the exact same place and no one realizes it. Instead of feeling pressured to lose weight, we’re at the other end of the spectrum; we feel pressured to love ourselves and lose our souls by lying to ourselves.
When will we ever find that balance? Will we ever reach that place where we stop shaming other people for their actions and judging them?
Because maybe this is just a part of human nature, maybe we’re intrinsically programmed to pull each other down.
I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m done. I’m done being someone who I’m not. I’m done acting like someone else just because of the latest trend going around.
Shame might never stop and what I have learnt is that it simply isn’t worth it. All that time you spent thinking of lies, delivering them, explaining yourself to people, explaining your actions to yourself: it’s not worth it.
From this moment, I am going to be unflinchingly honest with myself: whether it’s working out to look better or eating a salad to lose weight. And I’m going to it without feeling bad or regretting it.
It’s a good life.
Who’s with me?