The History of Body Positivity
If you’re reading this blog, you are probably just as curious about the background of the body positivity movement as I was. As a plus-size blogger, I have been a part of this community for over two years now. I joined the movement not really knowing much about it. Over the years, I have learnt many things about the community but I feel there are many things you don’t know about when joining the body positive community.
I wanted to write a blog sharing the beginnings of the body positivity movement and how it turned into what we know it today – a community heavily dominated by white women.
The Roots of Body Positivity
First and foremost, it’s important to highlight that the body positivity movement was created by black women. When you look at #bodypositivity on Instagram, you would be convinced that this was some marketing tactic created by white women. However, you would be wrong! Black women were the originators of the body positivity movement in both the 1960s and in the social media space. Bloggers such as GabiFresh posted pictures of themselves wearing bikinis and OOTDs to their blogs and Instagrams. These images were soon picked up by other blogs and platforms where the movement began to spread across the social media sphere. However, as the trend of body positivity began to grow so did its audience.
How Body Positivity Became All About White Women
Where the body positivity movement had been reignited by women of colour, white women came in and swooped the flame. The movement was no longer there to shine a spotlight on WOC, women with disabilities and trans women. Instead, there came a new wave of white women with hour-glass figures who were no bigger than a size 16. Take plus-size models such as Ashley Graham or Iskra Lawerence as an example of the new figureheads for the body positive movement. Even reality stars, petite influencers and straight-sized fashion brands have jumped onto the movement in an effort to promote themselves.
When Body Neutrality Becomes A Marketing Ploy
The body positivity movement was created to allow women to embrace their natural bodies and lose the shame that is often attributed to being fat. Within the movement, discussions about fatphobia have arisen – making it more just accepting who you are. It’s about creating change in government policies and getting equality for fat bodies. However, with models such as Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham heading up the body positive movement on social media. It quickly became the latest marketing buzzword! Yet in using this word, they have also ostracised the very people who created the movement.
In July 2019, In The Style launched a “body positive” campaign with size 12 influencer, Chessie King – one of the many white, slim women who jumped on the body positivity trend. Her range of clothing with the fashion brand included tops with phrases like “I don’t care what you think about me!” and “More self-love!” When it came to the sizing of her range, the brand only went up to a size 24 – do I have to say more? People rightly pointed out that there is nothing radical about Chessie, a slim woman, preaching about body confidence. Especially when her body is accepted by society’s beauty standards!
What Does the Future of Body Positivity Look Like
As brands continue to use the body positivity movement as a means to sell products, the future may look bleak for the cause. However, I think there is some hope there! I would like to see body positivity get back to its true origins. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this blog. As a white, plus-size blogger, I am guilty of taking this movement and moving the focus away from women of colour, women with disabilities, transwomen and many more. It’s time to give that space back to these women and use our platforms to support them and their work. After all, their struggles need more of a voice than ours!
Here are five of my favourite plus-size women. I would recommend following on Instagram and supporting their content below:
I would also urge you to share your favourite bloggers below too.