By: Joe Leonard
Most of us know a little bit about the body positivity movement, from Dove’s inclusive ad campaigns to the rise in popularity of plus size models like Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira. Mainstream society is becoming increasingly celebratory of all different shapes and sizes in large part due to the body positivity movement. But what exactly is this movement, and how is it shaping the way society views beauty?
Body positivity is a social movement that centers on the belief that every human should have a positive body image. It does this by challenging the ways that society presents traditional beauty, advocating for the acceptance of all bodies. While body positivity has roots in the fat acceptance movement, it includes more than just size in its celebration of body types. The movement works alongside racial, LGBTQ, and disability movements to shatter the unrealistic beauty standards of today’s society.
The idea at the core of the body positivity movement is that people can only fully love themselves if they accept their physical traits. Whether you’re over or underweight, body positivity rejects body-shaming. Body-shaming has been shown to cause incredible damage to our mental health, contributing to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety as well as eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. The body positivity movement has helped combat the increase in body-image related mental health disorders, offering relief and support to those suffering from the pressure of societal beauty standards.
The body positivity movement had its beginnings in the first wave of feminism from the 1850s- 1890s with the Victorian Dress Reform Movement. This movement rejected the trend of women having to wear corsets in order to have the tiny waists that society required of them. Body Positivity has gone through several waves since then, from the “fat-in” held in Central Park in 1967 to protest discrimination against the overweight to the rise of social media in the early 2000s. Social media revolutionized the body positivity movement, providing ordinary citizens a platform to protest society’s imposed beauty standards and celebrate real beauty.
Advertisers have followed suit, taking on aspects of the body positivity movement with ad campaigns such as Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. This campaign celebrates female empowerment and body acceptance, featuring women of all ages, sizes, and colors. Dove is leading the way in showing real-life people in advertising rather than the traditional models that previously dominated the advertising landscape. As the body positivity movement has built up momentum, many advertisers have begun to refrain from retouching images of their models, releasing unadulterated photos to show what real people look like.
As society changes, so do our traditional standards of beauty. The body positivity movement is set apart by its idea that there is no one standard of beauty, and that real beauty comes from accepting how you look no matter what. You can’t be too skinny, too big, too dark, or too light; body positivity says you’re fine just the way you are.
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