Over the last few years the body positive movement has been phenomenal in the progression of bodily acceptance. As a society, we are acknowledging the presence of more body shapes and sizes in mainstream media – and this movement is one that has been a long time coming. People across the globe are making a stand and declaring love for their bodies in spite of everything that we have been told my the media, and subsequently, we are deconstructing and reconstructing our own body image values and ideals – can I get a hell yeah?!
The eradication of preconceived body ideals has provided many with a mental cleanse, and the epiphany of body love is empowering, radical and can change lives. That said, whilst the body positive movement is forward-moving and an absolute gem in the lives of many, there are some flaws that need ironing out for the movement and community to progress further. For those who are new to their own self-love journey, and for those firmly integrated in the world of bopo-goodness, there are three main problems that I’ve encountered and I believe need to be acknowledged.
JUMPING ON THE BOPO BANDWAGON
This movement is an ever-evolving, ever-growing space for those exploring their journey of self-love, but sadly some tend to abuse the movement for their own personal gain. Whilst the growing number of body positive supporters is well-received, and I would encourage everyone to jump on the bopo bandwagon – but the motives of some need to be questioned.
Clothing Brands – Clothing companies across the globe are becoming more well-versed on the subject of body positivity, but some take advantage of the rise in body acceptance for financial gain and social popularity. Clothing company Aerie recently came under fire for promoting male body positivity, as an April Fools Joke. Evans, women’s plus size clothing favourite, regressed to traditionally accepted cardboard cut-outs of the female aesthetic to front their #StyleHasNoSize campaign. These are only two examples of the ways in which clothing brands are using body positivity as a scapegoat to further their target audience whilst toeing the line of body radicalism.
Social Platforms – While some are body positive through and through, occasionally you might come across a blogger or someone who has garnered a large following on social media who isn’t intrinsically body positive. Sadly, some bloggers or social media figures abuse their position for their own personal gain – body positivity is not a trope to take advantage of to further your own success online – body positivity truly changes lives and shame on those who don’t recognise that.
MORE-INCLUSIVE, OR ALL-INCLUSIVE?
Society has been a wildfire of positive influence in the lives of many and we have come a long way in overthrowing body image rules – but there is still a lot more that can be done. For whilst the body positive movement is more inclusive, is it all inclusive? To be truly body positive, you cannot simply dip a toe in the pool of body positivity, body image values need to be inclusive of EVERYBODY and EVERY BODY. I don’t have enough fingers to count the times that I’ve been told, “I’m all for body positivity, but…” – this is usually followed by comments on my health, femininity and assumed narcissism for publicly choosing to post photos of MY body.
Not only this, but while body positivity has taken a step in the right direction, wider society hasn’t recognised that the arm of body image extends further than the Ashley Graham’s of the world. An all-inclusive body image community and society should showcase: women and men of all shapes and sizes, women and men of colour, trans*-individuals, those who have a disability, men and women of all ages, those who are scarred, who have stretch marks or other marks of life, pregnant women, post-pregnancy bodies, those who have lost/gained weight, the tattooed and the pierced, those who choose to publicly display their self-love and those who privately undertake their journey.
When body positive activists profess self-love it is often done with inspiring words and a damn fabulous picture to match – but is all as it seems? As a bopo warrior and firm advocate of body positivity, I can safely say that we are not superhuman. Social media does wonders for displaying only what we want the public to see and often the negative sides of life are eliminated from our public platforms – but don’t forget, everyone has been or is susceptible to negative body image ideals. My body positivity is present in my life every day, but that doesn’t mean that there are some days where I am vulnerable to the onslaught of ideals that the media pushes on us. However much you or I admire and find inspiration from activists we need to remember that we are all human and none of us are completely free from feeling down about ourselves – sometimes.