Body positivity is all about accepting and loving your body, just the way you are. The movement has made massive strides in recent years, fighting for inclusivity and an end to discrimination based solely on the way you look.
In order to understand how many people the movement helps and supports, it’s important to delve a little bit further into what exactly it is. This will reveal how it’s inextricably linked to rights we’ve fought for in the plus-size community.
What is body positivity?
The body positivity movement asserts that everyone deserves to have a positive body image. It challenges society’s obsession with what’s an ideal body type. By doing so, it promotes confidence and acceptance for everyone, no matter their shape or size.
However, body positivity is about so much more than our vital statistics. Over time, it’s remit has expanded to also address judgements made based on:
- sexuality and
Roots in the plus-size community
We may see body positivity as a relatively recent event, but today’s movement actually stands on the shoulders of activists from the 1960’s. It all started with two events, both of which were a push to end fat shaming. The first was a ‘fat-in’ event held in New York’s Central Park, in 1967. This was organised by the counterculture radio host Steve Post, who was incensed at the discrimination he had faced while overweight. The second was an article published later that year in the Saturday Evening Post. The article was written by Lew Louderback, and entitled ‘More people should be FAT’. This seminal piece directly led to the establishment of The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, in 1969. The association still exists today, and advocates for an end to discrimination based on size.
The term ‘body positivity’ was first coined in 1996, by Connie Sobczak, a patient with an eating disorder, and her psychotherapist, Elizabeth Scott. Together, they established thebodypositive.org. This is an educational resource site dedicated to supporting positive body attitudes and guiding people away from unhealthy diets and exercise regimes. Their mantra is that by accepting who we are, and cherishing our bodies, we can concentrate on the things that really matter. We salute this and can see how it has paved the way for today’s attitude toward inclusivity.
Why body positivity matters
Body positivity matters because it’s directly linked to body image. Having a negative body image can be incredibly bad for your mental health and can lead to a number of disorders, including:
- Eating disorders – It’s estimated that as many as 1.6 million people in the UK are suffering with an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric condition. It’s most prevalent in teenage girls, and only 50% of those that survive will ever make a full recovery.
- Low self-esteem – a poor body image is related to low self-esteem, especially among teenagers. This can be due a number of factors such as weight, gender, age, socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
- Anxiety and depression – as well as low self-esteem, having a poor body image can also lead to anxiety and depression. In fact, women are far more likely to suffer than men, and this directly correlates with the pressure society and the media places on us to achieve the ‘body beautiful’.
The plus-size revolution
These frightening health statistics demonstrate just how important it is to feel confident in your own skin. However, just venture out onto the high street, or online, and you’ll see how far we’ve come.
For the plus-size community, the impact on society and culture can be seen all around us. From the mannequins in department stores to the adverts in glossy magazines, it’s clear to see that models have become more relatable in size. They’re also no longer airbrushed to an impossible ‘ideal’. Indeed, catwalks are no longer the preserve of the willowy ‘size zero’ frame. Plus-size models are now front and centre on the catwalks. They also grace billboards and front ad campaigns, demonstrating how far we’ve come in recent years.
Plus-size influencers have also come to the fore, using their social media following to really push the drive for body positivity and equality.
Our top 5 fashion influencers to look out for include:
- Gabbie Fresh @gabifresh
- Katie Sturino @katiesturino
- Trendy Curvy @mskristine
- Callie Thorpe @calliethorpe
- Caralyn Miranda Koch @caralynmirand
So as you can see, body positivity definitely has its roots in the plus-size community. In fact, body positivity wouldn’t exist without the plus-size community and our fight for acceptance. Here at Elle Courbee, we’re definitely part of the movement and believe every body should be cherished, no matter the shape or size.