Women have been leading the way in social movements lately, pioneering and championing for change in several areas. In wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, some of Hollywood’s most powerful females have joined together, sharing their sexual harassment stories as part of the #MeToo movement. Following #MeToo, the Time’s Up movement was established, which aims to tackle sexual harassment or abuse or assault in the workplace.
These movements are following a very specific track, and thankfully, not being capitalized on, or being used in the wrong way, unlike another movement. The Body Positivity Movement.
So, what exactly is The Body Positivity Movement? Well, it’s a movement aiming to encourage all genders to embrace their bodies and adopt a more forgiving attitude in how they view their physical appearance. Despite the main goal of the movement
being to celebrate bodies of any shape and size, many identify the movement purely with bodies that are deemed conventionally unattractive by society and has gained significant traction from plus-sized women.
But, the origins of The Body Positivity are slightly different. Established in 1996, The Body Positive foundation started a mission to eradicate self-hatred and break free from the chains of eating disorders. A message that has gotten a little lost in the last 20 years. Lately, the movement itself is causing some debate, particularly when individuals of a slimmer physique are shamed and trolled for embracing the movement. Being "skinny-shamed” online and accusations of "thin privilege” through social media are increasingly popular comments thinner girls are met with, due to the traction the movement is gaining from
plus sizedwomen, many of whom feel the movement is used to celebrate unconventional beauty types.
Although plus-sized individuals may have been oppressed for a long time by certain industries, thinner women are now facing unfair criticism over their appearance. Despite loving their bodies the way they are, which is the precise message today’s Body Positive Movement is encouraging, many are still being body-shamed.
Both the media and fashion industry are making progress in terms of being inclusive of all body types and genders. American model Ashley Graham made history when she was the first plus-sized model to grace the cover of American Vogue and Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Ashely also walked in high fashion shows such as Michael Kors during Fashion Week. Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio was the
first ever transgender model to be featured on the cover of any Vogue magazine, when she was the cover model for Vogue Paris last year.
The movement itself has also received criticism when used by those who are promoting diet and fitness. Former Made in Chelsea star, Louise Thompson was subject to
furious backlash after a promotional image of her upcoming diet and fitness book "Body Positive” was released. Louise was critiqued due to her capitalisation on the movement and disingenuous use of the phrase, which many found to be an abuse of the movement itself.
So, where does that leave us? Who exactly can be part of the Body Positivity Movement? Can we use the hashtag #BodyPositive if we are a size 6 and love our body the way it is? Or will we be shamed and told we fit into "beauty standards” and therefore aren’t worthy? Despite the core purpose of the movement to embrace our bodies, regardless of dress size.
Social and political movements, when they hit the mainstream can become diluted and lose their meaning. They can be adapted to suit
whomever uses them, not every female’s definition of feminism is the same, so does our definition of Body Positivity need to be the same too?