Body Positivity In 2021: What Have We Accomplished & What Still Needs To Be Done?
Body positivity – we are here for it. In our eyes, all womxn, genders, body types, and styles, from mohawks to activewear, are absolutely perfect.
This is why we’ve always been supportive of the body positivity movement, which aims to promote acceptance of all body types. But what’s it really all about, why does it matter, and how can you get involved?
Here’s everything you need to know if you want to rage against the machine when it comes to society’s old-school ideas of what you should look like.
History of the body positivity movement
Body positivity began as a social movement to empower and promote all body types. Whether you’re short, tall, bootylicious, or beanpole-esque, all bodies are equal and deserve acceptance and love. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, it’s something we’re still working to achieve.
So, what started the body positive movement? While the movement really took off in the 1990s, you could argue that it spans all the way back to the Victorian era, when our late 19th-century sistas started the Victorian Dress Reform Movement. Tired of getting dressed each day in corsets and shapewear, they took a stand against society’s idea that all womxn needed to have a tiny waistline.
This continued through the tumultuous 1960s, when engineer Bill Fabrey started a small group that grew into the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). Known as a fat-positive movement back then, it continued into the 2000s, where our new friend, the internet, brought us to what’s known today as the body positive movement.
While trolling and body shaming were (and still are) common both IRL and online, activists continue to fight back and push for body acceptance.
I’ve heard about body neutrality recently – what’s this all about?
What is body neutrality? We’re glad you asked.
Alongside the body positive movement, there’s also a push for something called body neutrality. This is the awesome idea that you are not your body – you can feel neutral about it, i.e. not really positive or negative. It’s perfectly okay to go about life without thinking about how your body looks – because, honestly, who has time for that?
If the body positivity movement seems too much for you, then you might fit more into the body neutrality movement.
What have we accomplished so far?
Despite the shitstorm that was 2020, we still saw some awesome advancements in the #effyourbeautystandards department. We saw Lizzo on the cover of Vogue, lookin’ good as hell, bucking the idea that fashion covers are only for a certain type of womxn.
We saw more and more fashion brands ditching the airbrushed look for real gals and guys, embracing stretch marks and sexy belly folds, and aiming for more diversity in language and ad campaigns. Mad props to the businesses, brands, and media that are realizing we want to see role models and advocates that look more like us and less like Hollywood glamour types.
But is this enough? Or are brands simply adding one or two curvy models to their ads and checking body positivity off their to-do list?
What still needs to be done?
Body positivity in 2021 needs to grow, especially when it comes to inclusivity. One criticism often given to the movement is that it’s accepting of all body types – but only to a point.
Sure, we are seeing more curvy, hourglass bodies in the media, but what happens if your gorgeous self looks a bit different? For the movement to be a success, we need to accept all body types, genders, disabilities, and looks. Until that happens, there are always going to be some badass babes who feel like they aren’t represented or accepted. That’s not cool with us.
Does body image affect mental health? Absolutely – which is why it’s so important that the movement becomes more inclusive. Experts say that womxn with negative body confidence tend to experience depression, eating disorders, and a bunch of other mental health issues, so we need to improve this.
I’m in! What can I do to help?
Want to get involved? Sweet! There are plenty of easy and meaningful ways to help propel the body positivity movement forward. Plus, the world needs more unapologetic role models who stand up for what they believe in, even if it’s scary and hard sometimes.
One way is to be strategic about who you follow online. Go out of your way to discover beautiful, unique, and passionate advocates and content creators on Insta, Facebook, and Twitter. Amplify their voice by sharing their content, leaving them comments, and telling your friends.
Sure, there are plenty of famous #bopo influencers, but we need more diversity and voices representing the movement. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can use your own social media platforms to tell your own story and encourage others, whether in a bikini or a pantsuit – we’re all about personal choice here.
Also, spread the word. Talk to your friends, your partner, or hell, your enemies – respectfully explain why this movement matters and why body acceptance is something we need as a society.
You can also make an impact with your wallet by supporting media, brands, and businesses that do the right thing. Or, if you can, make a donation to a local charity working to help create diversity and inclusion in our society.
So, lay it on me – how do you achieve body positivity for real?
Listen, we know it can be tough. We get it. For some, learning to love your body can take years.
Start off by being kind to yourself, affirming to yourself that you are a hardcore awesome human, capable of anything, with plenty to offer the world. Toss away your scales, buy clothes that you love and that make you look hot, and tell yourself every morning that you’re going to capture the day, do your damn best, and fight the good fight.
We’ve got your back 110% of the way.
Featured image by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash