Since the beginning of time people have been trying to change their bodies and minds in order to fit into our society’s beauty standards. In the 80s models did drugs to stay thin. Now we use subtle body shaming disguised as keto diets and fitness influencers to maintain an impossible beauty standard. But which is worse? Destroying our bodies with drugs or destroying our self-perception with comparisons to the surgically altered, mega-famous, and genetically blessed. The new fitness mindset that has swept the internet and social media platforms seems like a positive way to approach body confidence. However, it has quickly morphed into the toxic culture of body positivity we have tried to avoid.
Extreme body positivity sounds like something that could only have positive repercussions. However, in recent years toxic body positivity has become a very real problem on social media. Toxic positivity can prevent self-love in a number of ways, primarily through an inability to completely love and understand your own body. While everyone should love their bodies unconditionally, that is simply not realistic, with everything beautiful in life there will be imperfections and shortcomings, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful. It is through embracing our flaws and learning to accept them rather than pretend that they don’t exist that we learn to become comfortable with ourselves. However, many fitness influencers and celebrities have created a narrative that imperfections can be edited away with the right diet and consistent exercise. But that’s simply not true.
While exercise and a healthy diet are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle, these are not the only factors that influence your body composition. The main things that influence how you look are money, time, and resources. This trio controls every aspect of our lives and pretending that they don’t influence how our bodies look is absurd. When influencers say that yes even the busiest person can achieve the perfect hourglass figure, they are lying. What this culture of toxic body positivity and fitness fads promotes is the idea of putting fitness before other things in life. Which is impossible. Unless you have the money of a Kardashian and the same amount of time as a 10-year-old, there is no way fitness can be your first priority in life.
Nevertheless, maintaining an active lifestyle is still extremely important to both physical and mental health. This doesn’t mean you need to spend 15 hours in the gym per week or eat salads every day. An active lifestyle can look like taking a walk with your dog or drinking water instead of Coke. Health and happiness aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact, you can’t have one without the other, and finding out how you can keep yourself happy through your health is important.
Furthermore, health goes beyond the body, practicing mindfulness and meditation are some of the best ways to find peace with exactly who you are and what you look like. So take a Sunday stroll and bask in the sun while listening to your favorite podcast, and don’t let Kylie Jenner trick you into thinking everyone can look like her.