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I Love My Body, And Here’s Why You Should Love Yours Too

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How many times have you heard from your friends and family (doubt, are they the real ones?) that you look so fat, so dark, so short, unwantedly tall. And you are like, “Oh god just give me a break!” We have grown up listening and absorbing these displeasing comments which ideally should not affect us but the sad part is that they do. In most cases they touch the deepest core of our hearts, completely fragmenting it into billion pieces.

The dive of our beloved social media into the whole aspect has brought forward many stigmas, in some cases erasing them, while in others carving them, deep inside us. The notions of an ideal body image, the idea to always be perfect, knowing the fact that it is not possible. While scrolling through social media we see how these filtered, edited and highly lavish posts in the form of photographs and video make us uncomfortable with our bodies.

women with different body shapes and sizes posing for the camera, body positivity
Representational image.

Media has crept so well and so deep into our mindsets that we have categorised the idea of how we should look or what should be the beauty standards or the body image through its catalogue. Feeling unsatisfied, sad, depressed because you don’t have the right weight, height or colour shade.

But who decided that for you?

The filters and editing softwares? The society? And don’t tell me that it was your real friends and family.  (pun intended)

We think we are simply scrolling through these media platforms but research has found that while we interact with these posts and absorb the content, these make an impact on our self-perception. Somewhere down the line, we all know that we seek to be “perfect” with an ideal body without scars, but with toned skin, right height and slim all the way. The sad part is that this idealism comes from things that are not real.

There have been many cases where teenagers who are most concerned about their looks and body posture, get caught by eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa, wherein they feel they are highly overweight. They start avoiding food to get into the ideal shape.

They feel it because they see in advertisements and media platforms that beauty is all about being slim. We all saw the “Fair and Lovely” advertisement about a magical face cream that can tone your skin down to two shades because that is how you will look beautiful.

Media through ads and other networks has tried to change the meaning of beauty with the shallowness created by society. We have grown up with this frivolous conception of considering everything different from the beauty standards on social media, magazine covers and advertisements as ugly. This needs to stop. We need to embrace the beauty of every kind.

Is Social Media Promoting Body Positivity Or Negativity?

Social media is with us almost every second of our day. We are using our phones, laptops and desktops to read post and share the content of our choice. In the same way, we have the choice to distinguish between what to absorb and what to ignore. Social media is a platform that presents an amalgamation of rights and wrongs, all of which depend on how one perceives these ideas.

Body Shaming
Representative image.

We have to make the right choice in choosing the content we wish to imbibe. The idea is to understand that like everything social media also has another side to it. Content creators, writers and bloggers also try to take up social issues which need our attention.

There are people and communities who are continuously working towards making a positive change in society. There are accounts and groups which promote body positive content and seek to accept and appreciate all body types and encourage people towards the same goal.

 

What Is Body Positivity And How Can We Achieve It?

After a prolonged discussion, let us understand the meaning of body positivity. The definition says that it refers to the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size and appearance.

In simple words, we can say that body positivity is respecting and accepting every body type. Most importantly feeling confident and proud of your physical identity.

We live in a society where people may have beliefs and opinions that might be contrasting from ours. We cannot change theirs but can stand to affirm to what we believe in. Every person is unique, with a varied mindset, perspectives and a totally different inner self and physical built.

In a world full of diversity, it’s our foolishness to make everyone perfect and ideal as per our own standards. Beauty is a sparkle we all possess; imperfections make you unique and amazing.

Body positivity will start when you feel beautiful and amazing for what you are. So, from now onwards tell yourselves you are a wonderful and magnificent human who doesn’t require the road map for a perfect body structure because you already have it.

Perfection is not a benchmark that someone else will decide for you. Take that charge and love yourself for who you are!

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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