The term “body positivity” has gotten some extra attention in the past few years. It’s a movement that promotes acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities. Proponents focus less on physical appearance and more on the overall health of the human body. A healthy body does not necessarily mean a skinny body. According to the Office on Women’s Health, a healthy body image means feeling good about how you look and feeling comfortable in one’s body. Conversely, they report that having a negative body image can put one at a higher risk for mental health conditions, including eating disorders. It is so important for one’s self-esteem and confidence to feel comfortable in your own skin. The beauty industry has slowly been shifting to support all body types.
A dynamic was established, one many women experienced: Clothes were not meant to fit certain body types. For some women, clothing and appearances dominate their sense of self, how people feel they belong and fit into society. It affects women’s relationships with their bodies. The body positivity movement promotes love and acceptance of the body to improve body image. It is different than body neutrality in that movement focuses on the body’s function rather than its appearance. Although the body positivity movement aims to help people, it has not achieved its intention of promoting inclusivity. Research indicates that most Instagram posts that use the movement’s hashtags, such as #bodypositivity, feature young, white, non-disabled females. Some people have criticized the movement for normalizing being overweight and obese while ignoring the associated health concerns. However, this criticism fails to acknowledge how harmful it can be when people face stigma and experience shame regarding their weight. This goes in direct contrast to the unrealistic and unattainable standards of appearance that are prominent on social media. Many people upload edited and altered images, making it impossible for others to know what is real and what is fake. People commonly associate the challenges of body image with females. However, women are not the only one’s beauty standards can affect; many men suffer from body image issues as well. The body positivity movement seeks to depart from dominant societal ideals of beauty and embrace different views. It also strives for inclusivity because it makes the concept of “beauty” much more extensive, including a range of bodies. Ultimate goals involve promoting the acceptance of different bodies and appreciating their differences.
It is important to keep health at the front of this movement to make sure they are not promoting obesity. The main goal is to shift the focus to people feeling comfortable in their bodies, no matter what that looks like. Beauty has many faces.