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The media has exploded recently with the Body Positive Movement. This movement focuses on building positive body image to live a happier and more productive life by increasing self-esteem, choosing better lifestyles, and learning how to love oneself to the fullest. People tend to believe that the body positivity movement is about rebelling against the mainstream model body type by saying “to hell with those skinny chicks, real women have curves!” In reality, the body positivity movement understands that people with these mainstream body types ALSO have body image issues that are valid and important.

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Mainstream beauty standards are a problem; they create intense body image issues for millions of people by idealizing a very specific (and often unrealistic) body type while rarely representing others. The body positivity movement believes that culture should represent and celebrate all body types and the differences inherent in them.

Projects, movements, businesses and other organizations have been working to change the way women look at themselves in terms of their body image as well as self-image.

Sports Illustrated released three covers for their annual 2016 Swimsuit edition—all featuring women with different body types. “What defines beauty today? The truth is, times have changed and one size does not fit all,” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor MJ Day said in a press release.[8] “Beauty doesn’t take just one form.”[8] One of the three covers features “plus-sized” model Ashley Graham; a size 14. Graham is the first plus-sized model to be featured on the Swimsuit edition. Graham has been the face of body positivity since her Lane Bryant #ThisBody ad campaign.[9] Sports Illustrated wanted to celebrate all different body types.

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The iconic Barbie doll has undergone major changes to reflect realistic body proportions. Mattel Inc., the company that manufactures Barbie, announced a brand new line of Barbies to represent figures of “real women.” The size and shape of the traditional Barbie is unrealistic. Therefore, the company has decided to release three different shapes: curvy, tall, and petite to represent the diversity of women’s body-types. Barbie no longer has the traditional thigh-gap and super-skinny figure. “Mattel seems to have jumped onto the body positivity/diversity bandwagon,” said Ravneet Vohra, editor of Wear Your Voice.[11] 

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While we’re always championing loving your body the way it naturally is, if plastic surgery makes you confident and happy – then why not celebrate that, too? Plastic surgery can indeed enhance positive self-image. Note that “plastic” does not refer to the substance used in manufacturing toys. The word refers to its origins. The Greek plastikos means to form or to mold – in other words, to change.

The reasons someone might choose to undergo plastic surgery or reconstructive cosmetic surgery are varied, but all of them are valid and empowering reasons:

  1. Accidents can leave people scarred or deformed and sometimes both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery is necessary.
  2. Birth defects and birthmarks such as cleft lips, ear deformities and skeletal deformities can cause physical and emotional handicaps. Reconstructive surgery restores normal functioning and appearance.
  3. Reconstructive breast surgery is common among women who have undergone a mastectomy. Although the procedure is not necessary from a medical standpoint, it helps ease psychological trauma.
  4. Massive weight loss. A person who has lost a huge amount of weight quickly will have a lot of excess skin that refuses to shrink. Removing the excess skin is a way to correct the appearance of the damage caused by obesity.
  5. Self-esteem/Self-image. People love to judge others for getting cosmetic surgery, yet everyone makes changes to their appearance; whether with new hairstyles, fashion choices, or cosmetic surgery. Yes, obviously some of these options are more extreme and intensive than others, but at it’s core plastic surgery is neither good nor bad, it’s simply a tool for change. What matters is context.

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When the reason for plastic surgery is to improve self-esteem, understanding the motivation behind it makes a big difference. As such, one of the core beliefs of body positivity is that you should express yourself however you want, as long as those expressions are not based out of shame. There is no place for body shaming, and there’s no place for plastic surgery shaming. Learning to appreciate the body you have does not mean you cannot make the choice to change it.

Nose jobs, tummy tucks and butt lifts can make all the difference in the world to someone who suddenly feels beautiful (or handsome – many men get “work” done too!). Non-surgical cosmetic procedures like laser hair removal, laser treatments to remove scarring or birthmarks and using Xeomin to relax certain facial muscles or fillers to make facial enhancements also fall under this category.

The best plastic surgery begins with realistic expectations, and ends with natural-looking results.

The choices you make to your body are yours and yours alone; they should not be governed by mainstream media, peer pressure or the fear of being shamed if you do not adhere to certain standards. Deciding to dye your hair a wild color, completely change your sense of style or even to undergo breast augmentation are all perfectly fine and wonderful ideas as long as they come from a place of wanting to make yourself happy.

Explore your body. Change things about it. Make people look at you differently than they used to; just remember that you’re doing it for yourself. They do not define you. You define you. #bodypositiveplasticsurgery

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