That’s it, I’m calling bull on the body positivity movement


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That’s it, I’m calling bull on the body positivity movement

Can we please stop spreading this damaging rhetoric?

I know that the body positivity movement comes from a good place. And that it’s intended to be, the clue’s in the name, positive. But unfortunately, for me at least, the reality is far from it. In fact in my experience I’ve found the body positive movement to be full of toxicity and hatred, most of which boils down to trashing one type of body while holding another up as ‘desirable’, which is nothing short of disgusting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-love, but if loving yourself involves putting other people down than that’s simply not OK with me, and more and more that’s the type of ‘body positivity’ I see promoted. I’m sick and tired of body positive activists and celebrities preaching about every body being beautiful while simultaneously tearing down women’s bodies that don’t match their own.

Just look at Nicki Minaj or Meghan Trainor. They both position themselves as empowering, female artists yet they sing about how having ‘booty’ and ‘ass’ is better than being one of the ‘skinny bitches’. How is that empowering? Shifting the negative focus onto someone else is not positive or progressive. There’s no way you can argue songs like this are truly about body positivity, as the artists would urge you to believe. Swap the word ‘skinny’ for the word ‘fat’ and all hell would break loose.

It’s not just celebrities who are seemingly casting themselves as faux body positive allies. Big companies and corporations have also hijacked the movement for their own monetary gain.

Take a look at these three popular campaigns:

In campaigns like these ones, the general idea is that the women are ‘breaking the norm’, as they don’t represent or reflect the kinds of women usually featured in ads or on the front covers of magazines. The problem lies in the fact that while there is some diversity there’s barely any and the body types are all pretty similar. These campaigns aren’t body positive, they’re fake.

They show a narrow selection of women with similar body types and shapes. More than this, the majority focus in each is clearly on whiteness and eurocentric beauty standards. Rather than empowering all women to love their bodies, they merely focus on and empower a certain type of body and woman. You can’t align yourself with body positivity while only representing a small selection of bodies.

What sort of body positive message does this send out to the women who don’t identify with what they see in these campaigns? To me, these campaigns come across as not truly representative of the general population. They might include a wider range of women’s bodies but the scope is still pretty small. The only thing companies jumping on the body positivity bandwagon are highlighting is how mainstream body positivity excludes rather than includes.

Take disabled people for example. While it’s true that there are some body positive activists that focus on people with disabilities, mostly body positivity boils down to acceptance structures around the ideas of ‘fat’ and ‘thin’, leaving little room in between. Body positivity focuses on weight, cellulite, and stretch marks, and too often, little more. If ‘every body is beautiful’ then why are disabled bodies rarely included when it comes to body positivity? Mainstream body positivity focuses on the able body, it’s the body which celebrities and companies ask you to be positive about, it’s the body you’ll see in magazines, and even in so called body positive campaigns it’s probably the only body you’ll see.

We need to fight body shame but the answer clearly doesn’t lie in the body positivity movement.

In fact, I’d go even further. This faux-feminist movement is bullshit. It encourages an unhealthy culture of self-objectification by fixating on what women look like, and sends out a toxic message that the appearance of women’s bodies is the most important thing. What’s even worse is how body positivity is falsely portrayed as being radical. Take a look at ‘body positive’ campaigns, songs that sing about self-love and curves, celebrities preaching about every body being beautiful and you’ll see all have one thing in common, they cater towards the traditional male gaze.

Media and advertising is almost always created from the perspective of the traditional male gaze; things are constructed or presented in a way that will please straight men. This includes all those phony body positive campaigns and so called ‘plus-size’ models. And it’s part of the reason why people with disabilities are generally excluded from the body positive conversation, because their bodies aren’t seen as sexy. In the Observer’s Sex uncovered poll, 70 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t consider having sex with a person who has a physical disability, with men more likely to rule it out.

The women featured in body positive campaigns might differ from mainstream models and ideals of beauty but barely so, as they’re usually white, able bodied, and often presented as ‘fat’ when they clearly arent. Models like Iskra Lawrence, are great, but they’re only lauded as ‘plus size’ by the media because they’re the ‘right kind of fat’ while still being sexy enough for straight men to look at and admire. As Meghan Trainor would say, she’s got all the right junk in all the right places.

If the goal is to disconnect women from universal beauty standards the body positive movement is failing us. This movement is supposed to be liberating and supportive of all women, but it’s not.

Women are so much more than their bodies. We’re human beings. Yes, we should fight against body shaming but we should fight it at its source. Body positivity as it stands sexualizes women and fails to properly challenge the unhealthy obsession society has with women’s bodies.

We should be instilling girls with a different kind of positivity. Celebrating their personal achievements and strengths, and teaching them that that what they do is more important than how they look. Let’s change the conversation, not add to it.