Body positivity movement inspires confidence, dismantles body stereotypes

Sarah Sondermann, Managing Editor

For years now, body image has solely been based on weight, height, BMI, and a bunch of other numbers that somehow define one’s body. However, people are taking back the idea that bodies are deemed beautiful by numbers and rather accepting all sizes, shapes, and colors for what they are. The body positivity movement is dismantling the stereotypes that have been so engraved in society and spreading self-love with it instead.

From a young age, children learn to idolize figures in their lives and as they grow up, those figures shift from cartoon characters to fashion models and actors. A majority of the idols children grow up knowing, such as Disney Princesses or bodybuilders, have stereotypical body types that are completely unrealistic and unachievable without extreme dieting and exercise. Since children grow up idolizing these people with perfect physiques or unrealistic waistlines, they begin to chase a body and look they will never catch up with. The Body Positivity Movement is dismantling this idea that has been put into so many students’ heads since they were just little kids.   

Although there are many organizations that support body positivity, the first known movement dates back to 1996 when Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott wanted to create a community full of self-love and a place to escape all of the societal pressure that causes people to struggle with their bodies. This movement has been around for a decade at least, however, in the last couple of years, it has gained a lot of supporters. Companies, models, actors, singers, and everyday normal people are showing their support for all body types as well as becoming more inclusive with the representation of these body types in the media. 

The representation of body types in the media is still limited but this is beginning to change. For example, a popular cartoon, ‘Steven Universe’, includes characters of all sizes and shapes, dismantling the unrealistic body types that have been built into cartoons for centuries. Shows like ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and ‘Empire’ include a wide range of body types among the characters which allow people to be more accepting of their own bodies when they see it in television or movies. Popular singers and actors like Lizzo and Anne Hathaway actively show their support for the movement through social media which reaches thousands of fans. This inclusivity in the media allows for all body types to feel accepted rather than excluded and shamed.

“Seeing yourself represented in TV shows, movies, and social media is so important,” said senior Leah Silverman. “This movement has allowed people, including myself, to feel more comfortable in our bodies and to realize that your weight and size has nothing to do with how worthy and beautiful you are.” 

The increase in support of this movement among students and younger generations come from the influence of social media. The popular social network TikTok has promoted a lot of body positivity and offered so much support for those recovering from eating disorders. Creators such as Brittani Lancaster and Xobrooklynne spread body positivity by creating videos that promote a realistic, balanced diet and them being confident in their body despite what society deems as beautiful. 

“Although I have always been confident in my looks, it is really refreshing to see people with similar body types to me,” said senior Makayla Dessalines. “I’ve been able to witness the change of culture when it comes to body image, especially when it comes to fat-shaming because fat does not equal unhealthy in every case.”

Another thing the Body Positivity Movement is dismantling is diet culture. Students grew up going to the doctors and getting on the scale to check their weight. That number on the scale usually determined how the rest of the doctor’s visit was going to go and whether or not you were going to have to be put on a diet when you could barely understand what that number even meant. Restrictive diets used in order to lose weight have been introduced to children at such a young age and seem to be engraved into society, but The Body Positivity Movement promotes a more inclusive and nourishing diet.

This movement has promoted Intuitive eating in place of counting calories and restricting carbs. Intuitive eating focuses on listening to your body and providing balance in your diet in a much more mindful way. It includes listening to your cravings and eating that specific food now so you do not restrict your body and eventually binge on it later, along with not feeling guilty for eating food that nourished your body. This way of eating is extremely encouraged among those recovering from an eating disorder because it retrains people to listen to what their body needs and feel less guilty for eating the foods their body loves and needs to survive. 

“Listening to your cravings and eating when your body is telling you you’re hungry is important,” said Kaletia Lynn, a registered dietitian and nutrition professor at Palm Beach State College. “However, making healthy choices, limiting the amount of high fructose corn syrup, and making sure your body is actually hungry is just as important.” 

Dismantling diet culture and stereotypical body types that have been engraved in society for centuries is a process that will take time. With support from younger generations, along with influencers on social media and in society, this movement will leave its legacy and continue to inspire those it reaches.