Youth Blog–Affirming Our Queer Bodies and Their Capabilities
There is a lot of discussion about how harmful the media can be when depicting standards for the “perfect” body, especially within the LGBTQ community. This persistent peer pressure on LGBTQ folks to have a certain body type can have detrimental consequences. For example, according to a UK study in 2012, 48% of gay men would give up a year of their lives in exchange for a “perfect” body.  This is where the body positivity movement comes in.
What is Body Positivity?
Body positivity is the notion that all bodies are worthy of self-love, self-care, and acceptance. All bodies are allowed to feel beautiful, regardless of skin-color, waist size, health status, or gender presentation.
Sometimes it is difficult to find body-love, given all of society’s standards on what is beautiful and what is not. For many people, including transgender people, genderqueer people, people with disabilities or chronic illness, sexual assault survivors, and people with a history of eating disorders, body-love may not be a comfortable goal – and that experience is just as valid.
Ways to Affirm Your Body
- Look for and give support where you can. It might be helpful to share experiences with others who have similar body struggles. This doesn’t have to be a formal support group – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites could be useful.
- Reserve the right to say no to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You have the right to tell others not to say things about your body that make you uncomfortable. This is your body, your journey.
- It is okay to say that your body is not at its best, or is not working for you today, or that it is a work in progress (however long that may be). You have the right to be sad, hurt or angry. Anyone who insists you love your body, or just get over your issues, or make a different kind of effort is doing a disservice to you.
- If nurturing your body isn’t appropriate for you at the moment, try nurturing your mind or your spirit. A lot of body issues are accompanied by mental health issues (such as depression or social anxiety disorder); it can help to have a safe space to talk those out.
- Be gentle with yourself when you have difficulty with body-love. Sometimes our bodies feel disappointing – they might not function how we’d like them to or how others tell us they should. It might be hard to gain or lose weight. We might have health problems we can’t control, or a body that doesn’t feel right for our gender. Take a deep breath, breathe, be gentle with yourself, and do something you love.
It’s time to encourage more body-love and body positivity for all shapes, sizes, and skin tone – erasing from our minds that there’s only one existing form of beauty.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) offers more information about eating disorders, help, and support.
If you need help looking for eating disorder treatment options, the NEDA Helpline offers aid Monday through Friday at 1-800-931-2237.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association has a provider directory to help find LGBTQ-friendly healthcare professionals.
Like this article? Read more on our Youth Blog and Family Blog.
Interested in participating in research? Find out if you are eligible.
Looking for other ways to help? Show your support by donating to IMPACT.
- Diedrichs, PC (2012). Media Influences on Male Body Image. Academic Press, Vol 2, pg 545 -553.