Celebrities, such as Lizzo and Meghan Trainor, are some of the biggest proponents of body positivity―the act of respecting, loving one’s body, and feeling gratitude for the things it allows one to do. Additionally, body positivity refers to the acceptance of one’s body regardless of current society’s ideals. However, strong body image originated from the Fat Acceptance Movement, which aimed to cease fat-shaming and promote awareness of the challenges posed for overweight people.
In addition to health problems, overweight people also suffer from body shaming and misdiagnosis in the medical field due to fat phobia. Lew Louderback, a large man who suffered from discrimination and unfair treatment, began the Body Positivity Movement with his essay called More People Should Be Fat. Louderback’s essay argued about the prejudice against fat people in America and sparked the creation of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). NAAFA is an organization that works to change the way people talk about weight.
The actual phrase “body positivity” was coined by Connie Sobczak, who struggled with an eating disorder as a teen, and Elizabeth Scott, a psychotherapist who guided Sobczak through treatment, in 1996. Sobczak and Scott founded the Body Positive Organization (thebodypositive.org), where they offer resources that teach and motivate people to feel less insecure about their health and identity.
The way body positivity is currently viewed surfaced in 2012, revolving around challenging beauty ideals. As time progressed and the Body Positivity Movement gained traction, acceptance of weight incited the message that all bodies are beautiful. Body positivity grew increasingly popular with the help of social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter; there are more plus-size and disabled people using the social platforms listed to help promote body positivity. The Fat Acceptance Movement now encourages the love for an individual’s body despite the shape or size. Numerous brands and organizations have implemented the spread of body positivity in their advertisements. For example, brands like Aerie and Dove have participated in the movement by including and encouraging body-positive messages. Aerie launched a campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes and none of their advertising images were retouched or photoshopped. Similar to Aerie, Dove released brand photos advertising their product and showcasing women with different body types.
Body positivity tackles how body image influences a person’s mental health. Having a positive body image is crucial, as it influences how an individual assesses their own self-worth.