The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper


Food & Health

Is Body Positivity just an excuse to be lazy?

Is body positivity criticism justified or an attempt to enforce conformity?

As you scroll through your Instagram feed you are probably inundated with a huge amount of tiny and toned Insta-models laughing candidly into their mug of skinny tea, making a lot of us feel less than worthy because we ate more than a salad yesterday at lunch. To tackle this epidemic, there are a wonderful group of people gathering speed on social media – body positivity is here.

“This movement is for anyone who doesn’t fit the classical beauty standards.”

Body Positivity was born in the late 1990’s, when Naomi Wolf published the revolution-inspiring book, ‘The Beauty Myth’. But it is over the last few years that the movement has really gained traction and made its way onto the mainstage, with the likes of plus-size model Tessa Holliday and actress Rebel Wilson at the helm of this movement. They have had a hand at bringing body positivity into the image-conscious media world. Both Tessa Holliday and Rebel Wilson on multiple occasions have championed the concept of body positivity. Tessa Holliday is perhaps best known for her #effyourbeautystandards campaign, a movement to challenge the unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards promoted by the fashion industry.

“Thousands of personal accounts have popped up on the social media platforms promoting their cellulite with no fear.”

As well as body positivity appearing more in mainstream media, there has been a rise of people creating body-positive accounts on their social media, most notably Instagram. It is on this platform that body positivity has truly flourished, giving people the opportunity to shamelessly flaunt their ‘flaws’ on the internet. Thousands of accounts have popped up on social media platforms promoting their ‘rolls’ and cellulite with no fear.

This move
ment is not without its criticisms. Judging by the comments, there are a large amount of people who don’t agree with it. They see it as coming from a place of laziness, low self-control and excuses. In short, they see this movement as an excuse for ‘fat people’ to eat cake all day and take no responsibility for the effects it has on their body.

There are definitely some points to be made in regards to weight-related health problems, with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis being directly related to diet and fitness. It could appear to some that these champions of body positivity are ignoring the health consequences by remaining at the weight they are. But the comments appear to be a bit more concerned with the fact these people are fat rather than unhealthy, often stooping to needless abuse. Many of these people are completely missing the point of body positivity. This movement is for anyone who doesn’t fit the classical beauty standards that are white, thin, cis and able-bodied.

When you delve deeper into the body positivity movement you find that the Instagram accounts aren’t solely consisting of curvier women, like Meghan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda). There is a whole manner of people simply wanting their body to be accepted as they are with no need to edit. This includes those who are differently-abled (Rebekah Taussig; @sitting_pretty), people of colour (@sassy_latte), transgender people (Schuyler Bailar; @pinkmantaray) and curvier men (Troy Solomon; @abearnamedtroy). Each of these accounts are promoting characteristics that are completely normal, but excluded from the traditional beauty narrative.

It is also important to note that there are people involved who fit the ‘classical’ standard of beauty that is expected in today’s world. However, like many people embracing body positivity, they often share their recovery from eating disorders (Connie Inglis; @my_life_without_ana) and the body acceptance which was involved in that process.

Considering the fact that a lot of these people have suffered with severe mental health conditions, such as body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety, not to mention the traumatic effect which eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can have on your mind and body – are the health concerns surrounding weight truly coming from a position of compassion and concern? Or is it, as suspected by the body-positive community, an attempt to get them to conform to ‘classical’ beauty standards seeing as they ignore the positive health impact of this movement?

The point of the body positivity movement is to empower every person regardless of their size, gender, age, skin and abilities. It appears that those who criticise this movement are completely missing the point. Once again, they are only looking skin deep.

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