When the news came out that the Australian state of Victoria was entering stage 3 lockdown in March, my first reaction was panic about not being able to go to the gym. I became overwhelmed with thoughts about losing any muscle I gained over the past few months, and began planning out how to compensate for my lack of sweat-bearing exercise. This anxiety was common among my friends, and so I felt that it was time to take a look at the effect that social distancing and self isolation can have on body positivity.  

During this difficult time, maintaining body positivity has never been more important, as the community faces a situation where people are asked to stay at home for the good of others. With this comes a whole bunch of new challenges to self-esteem. 

What I have learned is that everyone has their own definition of body positivity, thus, the first stage for many is defining what the term means for them. For some, it means feeling proud or happy with their shape, and for others, it’s about prioritising being healthy. Personal definitions of body positivity can be fluid, and often evolve with the ever-changing ways that one perceives themselves. Studies have found that Girls are most likely to experience issues with body positivity, with negative associations with body image being observed in some as young as three. Therefore, a discussion about body positivity is vital to Girlhood mental and physical health. 

As time passed during self isolation, it became more apparent that the need to love yourself is vital. As I am a productive person, I had to remind myself that it is ok to take a break from self-expectations, especially when it comes to a routine that’s been interrupted. It is the type of advice that you are most likely to give to a friend, so do not be afraid to be that friend to yourself. Self-isolation is a break of routine for a lot of people, and poses a massive disruption to normal life. Therefore, as a community, it is important for everyone, including girls, to be positive towards each other, and themselves.

This journey of self-acceptance also received help from research, journaling, and positivity, and while the road is never easy, the outcome could result in finally gaining some inner peace. At least for now, I have found myself in a pattern of prioritising health over vanity, and positive feedback over criticism.  

For those who are struggling in finding a healthy balance or a way to define body positivity, the internet has many helpful articles from a variety of voices that can help clear the pathway. In my own experience, I found reflection and analysis to be a handy tool in looking at the way I spoke to myself, I achieved this through daily journaling. 

During this difficult time, it is important to have a deep conversation with yourself about your personal definition of body positivity, and what impact this massive disruption to routine may have had to that self-perception. Together, we can be positive, and come out of self isolation ready to take on new challenges.

-Emily Rawle
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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