Just about every other article on the internet right now is about how we should endorse body positivity, and put a stop to body-shaming under any circumstances. On the whole, I agree with this sentiment. Someone shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed and embarrassed for the way they look; I was permanently teased throughout school for having frizzy, uncontrollable hair, glasses, and crooked teeth, as well as somehow managing to be simultaneously too fat and too thin. While I believe that a healthy weight should be maintained where possible, my concern on this front is for health and health alone, not how someone appears. In fact, I fully support women who have the confidence to display their beauty whatever their size. Women like WWE Raw wrestler Nia Jax have proved that size bears no relation to looks whatsoever; she’s walked down the catwalk at a fashion show and the ramp down to the ring with equal confidence, as she should do.
However, body positivity does hold one small but vital caveat for me. How the heck am I supposed to love a body that has repeatedly tried to kill me, and malfunctions more often than a British Leyland car? It seems like I’ve spent half my existence being poked and prodded by medics, and they’re not marvelling at how healthy I am. What might look alright on the surface may as well be a carefully decorated cake that tastes like damp and mouldy cardboard (disclaimer: I don’t know how this tastes, and I don’t want to find out). I try not to care too much about how big my wheelchair makes my butt look, but I still find it a little difficult to love a body seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction.
The media constantly tells me I should love my body no matter what, but no one in the spotlight seems to recognise that no matter how much love I give my physical body, that isn’t going to fix me (Coldplay style). I can stand in front of the mirror, wink, and say “you got this” in a cheesy teen movie voice as often as I want; my body is not going to suddenly and miraculously repair itself, however much I would like it to. It continues to amaze me that a thought pattern as shallow as this has taken hold of everyone so completely that they refuse to hear a word uttered against it.
On the other hand, a lack of general body positivity doesn’t mean I hate myself entirely. I think I can take pride in my relationship, my achievements, my work, and my writing. I think I’m an alright human being to be around, although I’d verify this first with someone who knows me well. I also think that there’s more to me than how I look. Body positivity really is great; it’s just not the be all and end all we think it is.