BoPo (aka: body positivity) has been quite the buzzterm lately. As has the term working out. Are they mutually exclusive? Can the 2 terms complement each other and keep their separate identities?
Defining Body Positivity
Doing a quick search, you can find various descriptions:
As per health marketing (for weight loss & gyms) BoPo is: we’ll help you³ get the body you want by training at our gym, eating our food or following our rules.
Translation: you are a work in progress.
Psychology says that Bopo is: Your knowledge that your worth is not based on your appearance. You do not feel oppressed or marginalized. You model this behaviour as well: not putting people down because of their appearance. (We’ve all heard trifling things like “After marriage, people let themselves go.” Or “They*² used to be so hot and now they’re so fat!”)
Translation: It’s not about changing the way you look. It’s about acceptance of the way you look at this moment, and modeling the behaviours.
As a term gains popularity, it morphs and grows. But these 2 translations are kind of opposite right?
So, what the what?
Let’s back up a bit more …
In the 90s, the Body Positive movement began as a therapeutic response to disordered eating, in the context of anorexia.
“The Body Positive teaches people how to reconnect to their innate body wisdom so they can have more balanced, joyful self-care, and a relationship with their whole selves that is guided by love, forgiveness, and humor.”
We love that their inclusive Mission statement recognizes the person-centred nature of wellness. My wellness regime is not going to be the same as yours. But also my regime may change depending on changes in my condition.
N&k’s take on bopo
When we first encountered the term BoPo, we took it to mean that we all have different bodies and abilities. This variety is where the beauty of BoPo lies. What the human body and mind can do are amazing. We are resilient and have plasticity. Booyeah: Body Positivity á la N&K!
At this point, N&K’s idea of BoPo probably morphs into Health at Every Size (#HAES¹).
For the past decade, Kells & I have been working with folks who have severe challenges with addiction and as such, engage in risky behaviours. But we have seen time and time again that people can reach their own potential with motivation, empowerment and an adaptable game plan. There is positive mental and physical health at every state and stage of life.
So . . .
BoPo means acceptance & awareness.
Working out can be the next seamless step, if it is for the sake of becoming healthier. For example, doing weight training exercises to get stronger. Losing weight might be a byproduct but not the main driving force.
So yes, we think these 2 buzzterms are distinct but complementary and on a continuum.
What do you guys think?
Please comment below.
¹Yep there’s a hashtag for that. More info on: Health at Every Size.
²we need to come up with a gender-inclusive pronoun that depicts the singular person.
³Feels like we should have a pic of Abe Lincoln pointing here.