Body Positivity: A Step towards Self-Love

In this vulnerable photo series on self-love, Emily Lampard Partono reaches out to her closest friends for inspiration. 

Out of curiosity and a desire to encourage body positivity I asked some friends to send me a photograph of their favourite feature or body part and their reason why. Some sent a few, some sent one and others couldn’t decide on any – but everyone took a bit of time to reflect on and consider what it was that I had asked them to do. When the first few responses popped up in my inbox, I started cropping them and cutting down the captions accompanying each image, but realised this was beside the point as the images and reasons from each individual were so purposefully focussed and genuine that I felt it would be wrong not to leave them in their original form.

After reading my friends’ responses and turning to think about my own answer, two contrasting yet interconnected obstacles appeared which forced this seemingly simple question to become such a difficult one to answer. The pressure for ‘perfection’ conjured out of oppressive societal beauty standards perpetuating reductive images of what women’s bodies should look like in the media, sparks a futile pursuit of these ‘ideals’ and can make it almost impossible to feel attractive.  I was pleased to see that, despite this, many of the responses paid homage to individuality through ‘imperfection’, yet even some of those I consider most beautiful in my eyes found it hard to think of a single feature that they admired about themselves. On the flip side of this is our tendency to shame body positivity and overt self-love. It can feel embarrassing to highlight and compliment ourselves but this should be encouraged rather than classed as vain. I asked people to take ‘selfies’ so it was a personal response that avoided comparison but from the pictures I received, it seems clear that complimenting and feeding off one another’s differing points of positivity can be really positive. We should find internal strength and stand as individuals, but at the same time support the women around us on their own individual journeys towards unapologetic self-admiration and love.

body pos 1

“One of my favourite parts of my body are my ears; they’re pointy and make me feel like a pretty elf.”

body pos 2

“I would probably say the cloud-shaped birthmark on my thigh. As something that is unique to me it reminds me that from birth we are all have something special about us to share with the world that sets us apart from the rest and that we should take pride in our originality.”

body pos 3

“The little freckles on my arms cos they make it look more interesting and if you get bored you can join them up like dot to dot.”

body pos 4

“I love my small boobs, slightly wonky and slightly squishy but lots of fun! And ever since my friend (you) said my nipples look like buttons I’ve liked them too, I think they’re cute.”

body pos 5

“My whole body is covered in fine hair and I think that’s maybe my favourite part. It’s like an extra layer of protection/warmth/safety that feels distinctive to me. You only notice it all if you see me naked – in a way, it’s me at my most intimate.”

body pos 6

“I like my fingers because like are quite elegant, even though most of my fingers bend off in some weird direction.”

body pos 7

“My stomach is one of my favourite body parts because it’s not too flat but I do have quite a slim waist. I realise that my choice is influenced by the unrealistic standards of beauty that pervade our society, and admittedly the parts of my body I like most are generally the ones that conform to these ideals to a greater degree.”

body pos 8

“My scarred stomach is one of my favourite things about my body, it reminds me of how far I’ve come after illness, and it makes me feel proud.”

body pos 9

“My mum has always told me my eyebrows are the first thing she noticed when I was born and that’s made me really like them – I like their shape and how expressive they are.”

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