The ‘Body Positivity’ movement has crescendo-ed in following in recent years. All over Instagram, it is hashtag-ed in untouched bikini photos, ‘Instagram v Reality’ posts and candid pictures of stretch marks and cellulite – but this wasn’t what the movement was intended for. These posts are often of thin, able-bodied white women and are actually aligned with a ‘self-love’ movement, rather than with body positivity.
Body positivity is a movement to empower marginalised bodies. It emerged in the late ’60s as a fat acceptance movement, and since then has grown to create a space to celebrate bodies that are otherwise systemically and societally oppressed due to their weight, race, gender and/or ableness.
This is not to say the movements of body positivity and self-love are not connected – they share the same idea of becoming confident in your own body and celebrating its existence, but body positivity owes its roots to a movement that was born from fighting discrimination and oppression.
It is a movement actively deconstructing the racism and fat-phobia that is so present in our society today. It is more than just finding peace in loving your body – it’s finding a space where it can be accepted in a society that is taught to reject it.
We have cherry-picked a few influencers who are spearheading this movement who you should follow if you want to learn more about the true meaning of body positivity – and the power of celebrating individuality.
“You do not owe the world pretty. You do not owe the world thin. You do not owe the world thick. You do not owe the world a body that you have to sacrifice your mental health for.” – words from @bodyposipanda’s Instagram
“All I know is, my black body is a temple – it is beautiful, independent, and mine. It cannot and will not be fetishized” – words from @stephanieyeboah’s Instagram
“Our bodies are constantly ignored, overlooked and in most instances paid less for jobs we do and our white counterparts are exemplified and taken to be the pinnacle of what is considered as beautiful and seen as having the body size and fat distribution that is ‘just right’. We won’t let that lie!” – words from @curvynyome’s Instagram
“Girl, I woke up today, and I’m just so thankful to be black. I woke up today, and I’m just so thankful that my fat ass could wake up and do something that inspires someone on the internet to love themselves.” – words from @enamasiama’s Instagram
“I’ve been doing positive music for a long-ass time. Then the culture changed. There were a lot of things that weren’t popular but existed, like body positivity, which at first was a form of protest for fat bodies and black women and has now become a trendy, commercialized thing. Now I’ve seen it reach the mainstream. Suddenly I’m mainstream! How could we have guessed something like this would happen when we’ve never seen anything like this before?” – words from @lizzobeeating’s Instagram
Words by Allegra Campbell Boreham
Graphics by Georgia Walters