Body positivity has hit the main stream and I’m loving it!
The body positive moment has roots in the fat acceptance movement which are both femmist movements. It’s been in the fringes until recently and its great to see more mainstream media outlets posting and writing about it. Get that message out, yo!
Then just like everything else good, the diet, weight loss and “wellness” industry hijacked it. A lot of people and companies *claim* to be body positive but do or say things that are at odds with the foundational philosophy of the body positive movement. Here are some examples.
Posting pictures that strive to fit society’s narrow definition of beauty or health
Box gaps. Flat abs, toned stomachs, six packs. Thin thighs, big bums, tiny waist. Big breasts but not too big.
If the focus is on appearance or is designed to get compliments on how “good” someone looks, ba-bow. This contributes to the unhealthy idea that health does indeed fit into this narrow spectrum, which it does not.
Focusing on their physical appearance by posting photos in which they are wearing minimal clothing
There are many body positive warriors out there who DO share photos of themselves, BUT their intention is different. They show how they are unapologetically taking up space and how they are fine exactly as they are now – visible bellies, thighs that touch and all!
This is very different to how many “body positive” people post photos (and videos) of themselves.
Permanent tans, tight shorts and crops and very carefully posed photos are just designed to show off the best angles, usually to sell a program or product (this body is totally realistic for you if you sign up to my $99 program!). Some very brave souls have come out and told the scary truth about the lengths they went to, to get “hot” looking photos. This includes taking up to 200 photos to get a “good” looking one and not eating for days on end to get the “lean” look. Not healthy and certainly not body positive!
Claiming to not be on a diet, but speak or post about foods they don’t eat (this can even look like avoiding foods because of ethical reasons or “intolerances”)
I once saw an Instagram account by someone “recovered” from an ED. They claimed they were coeliac, low FODMAP and vegan. Huh. That’s not super restrictive at all…
This is a problem because people who are recovering from an ED or who are trying to heal their relationship with food can become confused and there’s a risk of relapse if they are following people claim that their restrictive way of eating is healthy and normal and should be copied. It isn’t.
Talking about their ideal body and how it can be achieved by manipulating their diet or exercise habits
Whenever diet and exercise are mentioned the focus is largely on how it makes (or how ti can make others) look. Yes, there might be some mention of feeling good, but with all the before and after shots, mentions of summer bodies or bikini bodies it becomes clear that the intent is mostly on how bodies can be changed via diet and exercise.
Focusing on how bodies need to be changed in order to be loved or accepted
There are a lot of programs that want to teach you to love the way you look, by making you go on a diet. And usually a very restrictive one at that.
Giving yourself permission to love your body only once it is smaller is a sure fire recipe for disaster. It sets up this duopoly – I love my self when I am smaller, so therefore I hate myself when I am bigger. And that’s a problem since there’s a 5% chance that you will permanently end up in a smaller body.
Focusing on weight
Both the fat acceptance and body positive movements work on the premise that dieting and weight loss is a form of control and a way to make sure women remain obedient.
Therefore, anyone claiming to be BP who wants women to weigh less (or men to weigh more or have biggest muscles) is directly contributing to this culture of control and obedience.
People can outwardly project the ideals of the BPM and inwardly have weight loss goals of their own, for themselves. That’s fine.
They need to keep that to themselves!
If someone is claiming to be body positive and focuses on before and after pictures or how much weight they or their clients/patients/readers have lost, this is not body positive.
I absolutely reject the notion that one can champion for body inclusivity and positivity AND strive for other people to take up less space and decrease how much they weigh.
If you’re following someone who does any of these things, it might be a wise idea to unfollow, unfriend or block content from them. They can talk the talk but ultimately they are sending you mixed messages, which in the long term is not going to help you be healthier or help you make peace with your body and food.