Body Positivity Movement: Just a Fad? Can this get back to being positive?

Over the past few years, a recent movement started about body positivity.  In 2010, Dr. Linda Bacon started a movement saying that everyone should have respect for their selves and bodies regardless of their weight.  This logically sounds like a great thinking process and would be a wonderful way to assist individuals to become more confident with his or her self and embracing themselves flaws and all.

The Movement

This movement discussed that individuals should stop dieting because fat does not mean unhealthy.  Realistically, the majority of all individuals are not the ideal weight as the chart shows at the doctor’s office.  Really….. I do not know many people that are 5’4 and 128 pounds.  Is this realistic?  No!!  Should I be shamed because the chart at my doctor’s office says that I am not the “ideal weight?”  No!!  Ideal weight for who? 

If I feel healthy, do not have any health issues, don’t have any mobility issues, and confident with my body and the way I look I am good right?  This is what the movement was meant to teach and improve the thinking process about self.  People should love themselves regardless of the numbers on the scale or if they have to buy size 16 pants in women or 42 in men.  The body positivity movement was intended for this positive thinking change but media, negative followers, and internet bullies did not allow the positivity to emerge from this intended positive movement.

Negative turn of the movement

Some followers started to feel that they should stop being healthy and embrace their body regardless of their weight.  This movement was not intended for us to stop being healthy or not to promote healthy habits.  It was intended to promote confidence and embracing a person’s health regardless of the size. 

Ashley Graham, plus-size model, was ridiculed for losing weight and some of her supporters stated that she was betraying her fans because she lost the weight.  Body positivity is embracing your body and being confident with who you are.  If the movement followers were doing this they would not be ridiculing her but embracing her change.  If you are in a positivity movement, you need to be positive with your statements, critiques, and communication.  But society does not like positivity they want to ridicule someone because drama is what sells.  Drama is needed to get more views or likes.  This is what gets followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.

Some went a little far and took the movement negatively when it was supposed to be a positive change to promote self-love, self-acceptance, and confidence.

Past Fads

As a child I remember playing with Barbies.   Barbie had the “perfect” body and an “amazing” figure but she was plastic. She was made in a factory and did not have the option to be any other size.  So her “perfect” and “amazing” body was unrealistic.  Some were using girdles and other body altering procedures to reach this unrealistic and unhealthy size.  This fad back then was popular but it was not a movement it was a fad. 

Comedian, Monique, made jokes about skinny women and how they made her sick.  It was for jokes and laughter but then it made a divide between skinny women and fat women.  What about the average women?  Where did they fit?  It was for fun but this did not remain fun and caused conflict at times. Monique later lost weight and some ridiculed her for losing weight and not embracing her “fat” persona. 

Can the body positivity movement be positive?

So many times we get wrapped up in the fad, diet or trend that we forget about the true meaning of things.  The basic true meanings of body positivity were 1) to embrace your body and not to be mistreated because of your weight, 2) not to feel pressured to get our bodies to a fit model ideal of thinness (i.e. Barbie size), and 3) learn to love ourselves no matter the size.  These are great meanings and virtues of the movement.  

Because of this movement plus-size models were allowed to wear clothes that showed off their “plus size” bodies.  They were not modeling clothes that other models were able to model. 

True body positivity means that you can do whatever it is you want with your body as long as you do it with love and self-love.   It was not intended that if a person decided to lose some weight or become more healthy that they are to be ridiculed.   

So can this movement be positive?  Yes, if we stop ridiculing and demeaning each other it can be positive.  This could be a great positive change for the way that individuals, especially women, look at themselves.   

Body Positivity Movement Round 2

Diet is such a negative word.  When someone says that they are on a diet it is more of a negative stigma to what is going on with them.  But if a person is making healthy food changes this sounds better does not have the negative stigma and may be something that can be lifelong and not a fad.   

Fat shaming or body shaming is not the way to go.  When you shame a person you do not help them to improve you are really hurting them for personal gain or just being mean. 

So to make the body positivity movement become more positive we can work on ways to help individuals to love themselves.  As a counselor, I work with many women that struggle with self-love and self-confidence.  When working with these women I find a common theme, social media and trends.  People are MEAN on the internet because they have a computer screen that they are behind.  I like to call these individuals “internet bullies” because they like to hurt other people to help them feel good or to get laughs. 

If you are working to love yourself and embrace yourself “flaws and all” (as Beyonce says) then you have to look within.  If you are healthy and feel that you are where you want to be, OWN IT.  Be you.  If you want to embrace your plus-size, DO IT and wear your clothes with confidence.  I embrace my stretch marks because I know that I am real and not a plastic model that was made in a factory.

What’s Next

Let’s try something new.  Let’s try to be positive not only about ourselves but others too. The golden rule, that society forgot a long time ago, is to treat others the way that you want to be treated.   So if you do not like to be shamed, do not do it to other people.  If you do not like to be called fat, do not call other people fat.   If you do not like to be bullied on the internet, do not bully others.  It sounds so simple, right? 

The body positivity movement was intended to be a positive movement to help individuals to become more comfortable with themselves and love themselves regardless of the size of their body.  Shame, ridicule, bullying, or demeaning comments should not surround this positive movement.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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