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Amongst the frenzy of social media, magazines, television, and the increasing emergence of the Kylie Jenners of the world, it’s often hard to forget that the “perfect” bodies we’re exposed to everyday don’t reflect reality (Black Mirror anyone?). Yet there are exceptions to the rule; brands like Aerie Real are breaking with marketing traditions by featuring unphotoshopped models, and bloggers such as @bodyposipanda are subverting the idealistic nature of social media, by challenging the way society continually critiques our “imperfections”, alongside the sound advice: “don’t sacrifice a healthy mind in the pursuit of a healthy body”. Lifestyle writer Char Srahan investigates the uprising of body positivity.

A growing focus on body positivity is important, especially so in a high-pressured university environment (especially one that unofficially generates at least 81% of Nike’s annual revenue – the sea of skin-tight leggings we must all wade through every day does little for one’s hyperconsciousness of lumps and bumps). We need body positivity more than ever, and luckily, the movement is gaining traction.

WE NEED BODY POSITIVITY MORE THAN EVER

In 2015, the Girl Guiding Association began to bolster power and potential over flaws with the introduction of the ‘Free Being Me’ Girlguiding badge, a new addition to aging badges such as cooking and circus skills. For girls aged 7-14 in Brownies and Girl Guides alike, girls celebrated their individuality and to swipe the badge, had to demonstrate body confidence and improved self-esteem; a stellar move towards spreading the body positive message to impressionable youngsters.

Sport England too were irked by the fact that 75% of women claimed they were too inhibited by a fear of being judged on their appearance or ability to engage in sport – one of most the most liberating practices for women and their bodies. Cue #ThisGirlCan, a nationwide campaign to get women and girls moving whilst shaking off the distorted notion that only the most toned of us may exercise. The flagship film has now been viewed by over 13 million women and the hashtags multiply by the second, now taking precedence as a buzzword on social media. Thanks to small steps, showing off the “undesirable” parts of our bodies is becoming less of anathema. Plugging the diversity of women’s bodies is bringing about acceptance and strength, and long may it continue.

WE DO NOT NEED TO BE PITTED AGAINST EACH OTHER

The Women’s March showed us that women can rally together, and now is the time to put that prowess to use. Constant comparison to strangers on social networks, silicone-saturated celebrities and people pushing the boundaries of Photoshop becomes insidious, but making small changes to our individual and national psyche can make all the difference: stop engaging in ‘fat talk’, claiming that “you know you shouldn’t” when biscuits are passed round, shooting down compliments, or kneading your thighs in changing rooms. Instead, positive affirmations must come into force.

Before you slate your body, ask: “Would I say that to my best friend?”; buy new clothes (Depop and eBay are your go-to as students) if you’re still holding out hope for fitting into year-11 jeans; move on and become content with yourself. Plough the energy you’ve spent worrying about your image, calories or weight into others, and into becoming more self-compassionate.

WOMEN CAN RALLY TOGETHER

We do not need to be pitted against each other: we need to advocate together! Plus-size model, Ashley Graham, who is taking the media by storm, says that 2017 is about “boldness, excitement and confidence”.

This is the year to come to terms with the fact that happiness is not size specific and to reject the bombardment of one thin, white, non-disabled body littering the media. It’s unrepresentative and well due its demise.

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