Body Positivity Movement In India

Body Positivity Movement In India

-Dr. Dyuti Datta Gupta

Body positivity is a social movement that promotes the encouragement of individuals especially women to love themselves to the fullest irrespective of their physical traits like weight or size. It also challenges the ways by which society judges the physical body and tries to establish the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, appearance, sexuality, and physical capability. In a nutshell, the statement should be like “Don't waste so much time thinking about how much you weigh. You have to stand up and say, 'There's nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am, you're the one with the problem!'’. Body positivity differs totally from the Fat Acceptance Movement which only advocates individuals considered to be obese and overweight. Rather it conveys the message that a person should appreciate his/her body in all aspects despite flaws, should love and feel confident the body about.

Around the 1850s-1890s, body positivity was depicted as the first wave of feminism which was associated with the Victorian Dress Reform Movement. This movement was aimed to finish the trend of women to modify their bodies through the use of tight-lacing and corsets to fit the societal standard of tiny waistlines. The practice of wearing corsets was highly uncomfortable and painful leading to several health problems. Eventually, some women opposed wearing such clothing, and acceptance of all body types regardless of waist measurement started. During this movement, they also fought for their right to dress in the pant. Between ’60s-’90s, several protests were made against fat-shaming and the belief that being fat is always indicative of being unhealthy. From 2012 onwards, social platforms like Instagram, Facebook had been vividly used as an advertising platform for the movement by delivering quality body confidence and self-esteemed education.
Several model agencies, beauty products, lingerie manufacturing companies, and body artists arranged different photoshoots, campaigns, and programs with models of “Plus Size and different skin tone” to promote and spread education about body positivity in the USA and UK. Under the brand name of “Fashionistas” Barbie dolls were launched in the market with three different types of body shapes, seven skin colors with twenty-two eye colors, and twenty-four hairstyles to take a leading role in this movement. Our Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has recently featured a “Plus Size” model in this latest 2021 collection, representing the “Real Woman” which reflects the caption: “There is nothing more beautiful than self-confidence.”

The main goal of the body positivity movement is to improve the psychological comfort of an individual because if such beliefs have been internalized by any individual that beauty, success, admiration, happiness, health, and esteem are determined by thinness they are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction and engage in unnecessary dieting resulting several mental and physical problems like muscle loss, overactive thyroid, anorexia, bulimia, depression and many more.

But somewhere this movement is treated as a “denial of science” because it only emphasizes the fact that the appearance of the body should be the most important issue responsible for a person’s self-perception irrespective of other elements accountable for his/her identity. This movement doesn’t pay enough attention to detecting and excluding the beliefs, and advertising campaigns responsible for causing widespread body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, a wide panel of doctors, nurses, and health workers do not accept this “positivity movement” as encouraging such lifestyle habits can affect one’s health negatively. Excessive approval of overweight and obese individuals will never encourage them to improve their health. Studies reveal that central obesity is one of the main factors associated with diabetes, hypertension, and infertility.

It should be kept in mind that irrespective of body shape size and looks, it is more necessary to stay healthy because only healthy living could make us happy in long run. To achieve such livelihood, the practice to adopt body neutrality is most important. Body image indeed plays a pivotal role in self-concept but it is not everything. Healthy positive thinking, complimenting others but not comparing, and avoiding negative self-talks should be practiced. Health-focused self-care is necessary for the everyday regime. Healthy meals should be taken and regular exercise should be done not because of changing or controlling the body but to feel strong and energized all along. Clothes should be bought and wore that fit the current size of the body. It should be remembered that our body is our home, if we don’t take care of it; no one else is going to.