Body image refers to how individuals think and feel about their bodies, and whether perceptions about whether their bodies are evaluated favorably by others (Girls Health, n.d). Society and mass media constantly bombard us with images that idealize a certain body type, especially for women. These unrealistic images often cause young individuals to have a conflicted relationship with their bodies. Many people across the world engage in diets or extensive exercise regimens with the aim of achieving a certain body type - and some of these individuals also unfortunately develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa (NEDA, 2018). In extreme cases, individuals may undergo cosmetic procedures to achieve their desired body type. Adding to this problem is a culture in which images of celebrities and influencers commonly promote diet and weight loss products while their own images are professionally edited to perfection (Sharma, 2019).
Fortunately, there are some non-governmental NGO’s that are working extensively to promote a positive body image among individuals, and are doing advocacy both on a grassroots level and also on social media. Some of the NGO’s are as follows:
Endangered Bodies: This is a global platform involving women from all across the world with the aim of challenging ideas of body uniformity and daring women to enjoy their bodies as they are.
Movement: This non-profit works with female identifying individuals to help them appreciate bodies of all shapes and sizes and equip them with confidence and self-worth using physical movement.
The Body Positive: This organization seeks to promote healthy eating habits and self-care so that individuals can develop loving relationships with their bodies. This organization also conducts a course on its online platform to become a trained “ Be Body Positive Facilitator”.
Adios Barbie: This feminist organization seeks to expand the concept of body image across race, gender, LGBTQ, dis/ability, age, and size. Their website also offers online body positivity resources.
While in India, there are no NGO’s working exclusively on body positivity, several individuals, influencers and organizations have taken steps to promote body positivity. For instance, Instagram pages like Brown Girl Gazin give a voice to those who have struggled with their appearance and weight (Desai, 2019). Additionally, some brands like Zivame have taken steps to release advertisements that feature individuals in all colours and sizes to break harmful stereotypes about body image (Mehta,2017).
While there is still a long way to go, these organizations provide a beacon of hope in terms of providing resources to people who are struggling to improve their relationship with their body.
Desai, K. (2019). The women who are changing the way you see yourself in the mirror - Times of India. Retrieved from here.
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Mehta, L. (2017). Zivame Bra Ad Promotes Body Positivity, Self-Love. Retrieved from here.
Sharma, R. (2019). Experts explain the misleading ways weight loss brands are promoted on Instagram. Retrieved from here.