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Mysteries of the Body Positivity Phenomenon

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

By Liam Bouza

Photo Credit to Pexels

Contrary to widespread belief, the phrase “body positivity” began in 1969. BBC Bitesize’s article deep dives into its history and explains how the phrase was created by an engineer, one Bill Fabrey who was unhappy at how the world was treating his wife for her appearance. He ended up creating the fatrights organization, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA).

However, The Recovery Village published a piece explaining how this term and movement can date back to around the 1850s with women denouncing the corset. Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott founded a nonprofit organization called The Body Positive in 1996 with the goal of ending the harmful consequences of negative body image.

Besides the point, the phrase that began with the purpose to bring awareness ended up bringing more controversy than anything.

There is a difference between encouraging all women to feel comfortable in their body no matter how they look and grabbing something that was created for a specific purpose and have it completely changed throughout time.

Artists like Lizzo have called out the body positivity movement for how it has been adopted to represent “all bodies,” whilst in reality they continue to celebrate “medium and small girls and people who occasionally get rolls.”

Photo Credit to Wikipedia

This is where some people realize that the movement does not practice what it preaches.

In a USA Today article from April 2, 2021, Chelsea Kronengold, the associate director of communications at the National Eating Disorders Association, said that there is a difference between body positivity and body neutrality.

“The body positive movement urges people to love their bodies no matter what they look like, whereas body neutrality focuses on what your body can do for you rather than what it actually looks like,” she said.

This is not a new topic. This is an old topic being talked about across all platforms and various sources of entertainment. For example, one could turn on the new season of "Euphoria" and find a particular scene where Kat Hernandez faces the wrath of the so-called “body-positive movement,” and her reaction says it all.

While Kat is laying on her bed eating, female influencers around her tell her, “You just have to love yourself.” They then scream “love yourself ” at her whilst she is covering her ears in the fetal position, screaming, and attempting her very best to tune them out.

For Kat, it was overwhelming because these women were drowning her in toxic positivity. They were showering her in positivity, but not really doing anything productive to help her instead.

Photo Credit to Pexels

One of the reasons people hypothesize what influenced how much the movement has changed is its growing popularity and its commercialization in public media and some witnesses have said that “small bodies have taken over,” according to a USA Today article.

There is a place in the world for both body neutrality and body positivity. However, we need to make sure we make the history of these movements maintain about justice instead of turning them into something that they are not.

It’s important for society to listen to the people that the movement helps.

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