Is your body positive selfie empowering?

I have become increasingly immersed in the body positivity community over the past year.

I started to get interested in following Instagram and YouTube personalities who promote happiness at any size and self-love — I think it’s utterly fantastic.

I believe we do need to expand the reductive definition of what is beautiful, but having said that, do we, from a feminist perspective, need to stop objectifying our bodies regardless of how proud we are of them?

I stumbled across a fantastic podcast by Lindsay Kite, Ph.D. that covers this topic beautifully.  Kite and her twin sister, Lexie, are the founders of the organization Beauty Redefined and her podcast  “Empowerment in the selfie age – an interview with Lindsay Kite” is a must hear for anybody out there looking for a different perspective on body positivity, sexuality, and feminism.

Photo: www.beautyredefined.org

There’s no doubt that body positive social media posts spark very divided conversations, but nonetheless, they are important conversations to have.

Lindsay Kite explains on her podcast a belief which is that many women who post nude and lingerie selfie photos online may help them ultimately they feel like they “have to show their body to prove that they value their body — to show that other people’s bodies are acceptable.”

Kite also contends that self-objectification –  the obsession with what our bodies look like inside our minds – is the thing that is hurting us.

That self-objectification is, in fact, the thing that is reinforcing our body shame.

She further explains:

We need to be very critical about what is being labeled “empowering.”  This culture that we’re living in will give women “power” for showing their bodies.  It will give them money, followers, likes, magazine photo shoots, and fame — women who have risen to extreme fame because of the way they present their bodies online.  You can see how that feels like empowerment — and a lot of people think that’s true.  However, from a feminist perspective … that “power” can be taken away as quickly as it’s given, because it is being determined by a culture that only values women’s bodies as objects.  

-Lindsay Kite

What exactly does empowering mean?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, to empower means to promote self-actualization or influence.  

Interesting.

Influence is the power to change or affect someone or something.

And the definition of self-actualization is the process of fully developing and using one’s abilities.

So really empowerment is the promotion of the process of using one’s abilities and power to change or affect someone or something.  

I don’t believe that showing bodies in and of itself is a bad thing.

If bodies are a form of our consumption, then, yes,  I think all bodies have a right to be promoted and seen.  

But, this often becomes a ‘chicken and egg’ conversation.

If it’s the obsession of what our bodies look like inside our minds that hurt our self-image, then it is most certainly stemming from the influence of bodies seen day in and day out in the media.

To that effect, are women showcasing these selfies for body diversity the best chance we have at a silver lining of capitalism, patriarchy, and exploitation?

Kite suggests before you post an image as a statement of feminist empowerment that you ask the following important question:

Who determines your power?  If it’s coming from the outside, it’s probably not real.  Showing and sharing bodies online isn’t ever going to get us there.  You’re still pre-occupied with your looks, and you’re still feeding off external validation.

So, the important question:  what does empowerment look like?

Being able to accomplish what you want to achieve and having self-efficacy brings empowerment …most women are not happy with themselves and judging and defining themselves based on what they think other people think about them.”  

The bottom line:  We have to set goals for ourselves that yield actual feelings of accomplishments outside of what other people see when they look at us.

My last question is this:  Is there a way that external validation can encourage internal validation in a healthy manner?

I say there’s nothing wrong with feeling happy and comfortable with yourself nor is there anything wrong with posting photos on social media.

The central questions of this post are strictly these:

1.  Are pictures of nude and semi-nude female bodies at any size just a continuation of the general objectification of women?

2.  How, as women, can we create a shift away from external validation to create lasting feminist empowerment and ultimately reject the notion that what a body looks likes should ever matter in the first place?

Is your body positive selfie empowering?

Please listen to this podcast; it is a 40-minute conversation worth having.

To learn more about Beauty Redefined, you can visit Lindsay and Lexie Kite’s website www.beautyredefined.org to find out more about body image “resilience.”

How do you feel about the body positive selfie movement?  What’s your take on “empowerment”?  What does it mean to you?

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3 Ways You Can Promote Healthy Body Image To Your Kids

Let’s face it, the number of us concerned with our body image has never been higher than it is now. Many of us blame the increase in weight and body image issues on the media while others blame the diet and fitness industries.

While I typically like to discuss which workouts are most efficient and fun to fit into daily life, I am also a life coach and believe that seeing yourself in a positive light is crucial to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. It is also important to promote body positivity with your kids, and that can be difficult to do if you’re struggling with embracing it yourself.

We live in a society that sells image over substance nine times out of ten, and it is often commonplace to use shaming, exploitative, and manipulative advertising tactics as a form of motivation. If you always feel bad enough about yourself, then you’re more likely to buy that miracle pill, cream, or service to look your best.

Children are also subjected to negative messages and unfortunately have started showing signs of negative body image issues as early as the age of 5.

According to a survey conducted by GirlGuiding UK in 2013, one in five primary school-age girls admitted they have been on a diet.  87% of girls aged 11-21 think that women are judged more on their appearance than their ability. At a time when children should be developing their interests in school, culture, and how they view the world, they are instead discouraged from cultivating a healthy view of themselves.

Although it may seem improbable in the current beauty-obsessed culture, we live in to encourage children to love themselves unconditionally; I say it is not impossible.

I am not suggesting that these three tips will eradicate all body image issues.   But in utilizing them, you can begin to take control of your household.

Three ways you can promote healthy body image to your kids

1. Evaluate your relationship with body image, weight, and food. Do you assign moral value to food? Do you have a healthy attitude towards your body? Children learn by example, and studies show that children who grow up with parents who make derogatory statements about their diet and weight have a drastically increased risk of sharing that same mindset. One of the most efficient ways to instill an attitude of self-acceptance in your child is to have one yourself. Adopt an attitude toward your body that you want your child to replicate.

2. Encourage your child to know his or her strengths and what makes them unique and extraordinary. Start conversations about their world and ask their opinion on subjects that don’t involve appearances. Teach your children to value strengths beyond looks, such as kindness, mindfulness, and knowledge. You owe it to your kids to show them that there is more to life than meets the eye.

3. Stop criticizing, envying, and judging other people based on their bodies, looks, beliefs, or diets. Kids already view hundreds of nasty “trolling” comments plastered all over social media on a daily basis. They don’t need more of that at home. We live in a society where complete strangers tear each other apart with rude, unsolicited comments regarding physical appearances.

These observations are not only horribly cruel, but they serve no purpose.

Lead by example when it comes to making statements about others. As the saying goes, “Admiring someone else’s beauty shouldn’t diminish your own.”

Choose to talk positively and substantially about others and your children will take notice.

While it often appears as though the unattainable beauty standard is here to stay, an exciting shift is taking place.

In 2015, social media users fought for body type acceptance through campaigns, such as #EffYourBeautyStandards and the Body Positivity movement.

People want to see more diversity in the media they consume.

And an important step is — for everyone — to show that beauty is about more than our weight and outer appearances.

This post originally appeared on RowdyRoddy.com

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