Body positivity, a social movement created to empower individuals regardless of their shape, size, and body, has gained a massive following over the years. Although the movement’s main purpose is to challenge body negativity, the movement lacks positivity and acceptance.
While followers of the movement are supposed to uplift each other, they fail to show love to those who change their bodies. There are instances where people are shamed for getting plastic surgery or changing weight because they are believed to be conforming to what society expects. This is ironic and counterproductive because a movement designed to spread love and acceptance should not be filled with so much judgement. People changing their appearance is not always terrible since there are overweight and underweight people that want to try to be healthier. Also, plastic surgery can be done out of convenience, like a nose job for better breathing or a breast reduction for alleviating back pain.
A major failure of the body positivity movement is the lack of acknowledgement for men’s struggles with their appearance. Despite men’s underrepresentation within the movement, studies have exhibited that men with body insecurities suffer mental and physical consequences—including social insecurity, depression, and eating disorders. Excluding men from the movement is detrimental since many succumb to the pressure of achieving the “perfect body”, and thus over-exercise or partake in unhealthy diets. In order to rectify these effects, it is important that men are equally represented in the movement and feel accepted.
Although the movement encourages people to love the way their bodies look, the appreciation is not always long-lasting since it is based on superficial reasons. A better way for someone to love their body is by finding something it can do for themselves and society. Men and women have stereotypes regarding their appearance and feel pressure to look a certain way. Women who naturally put on muscles easily can try to find enjoyment in weightlifting and help break the stereotype that women must look dainty and soft. Bodies can also help people form connections and awareness, especially those who are disabled. This is because they have unique experiences that can help provide awareness for safety and social reasons, such as drunk driving leading people to be handicapped.
The movement was started with positive intent, but there are still improvements to be made regarding the community. The movement should do a better job of appreciating people’s bodies by accepting everyone, whether they live up to beauty standards or not. To accomplish this, followers can show more support for underrepresented people and take the initiative to learn about the experiences of other people.