The body positivity movement sticks two fingers up to narrow beauty ideals: it’s about body acceptance, celebrating diversity and shutting out negativity.
What it’s absolutely not about is fuelling the relentless pursuit of society’s definition of ‘perfection’, that one-size-fits-all (read: slim, toned) body type that’s so often idolised by the media.
But is the popularity of the movement leading to its eventual demise? The term, once a radical expression of self-love, has been diluted with people and brands harnessing it to push a very different message.
‘Made In Chelsea’ star Louise Thompson is the latest accused of hijacking the term, after she announced her first diet and fitness book ‘Body Positive’ (out 2018).
The book has been slammed by the body positive community for taking a movement which originally stemmed from celebrating diverse body types and turning it into a way to promote diet and fitness.
Amid cries that Thompson’s new book signals the death of the movement, we spoke to five people about what body positivity means to them.
Stephanie Yeboah, 28, London
“For me, body positivity is unlearning the idea that only certain bodies are worth acceptance and praise, and instead recognising that all bodies are equally valuable.
“It stemmed from the fat acceptance movement, allowing a safe space for fat people to celebrate their bodies without the fear of judgement or marginalisation from others.”
Samantha Renke, 31, London
“Whenever I think about body positivity I always quote Coco Chanel: ‘In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.’
“In today’s Instagram and Snapchat-obsessed world we are so focused on what we don’t have rather than taking time to embrace what we do and loving the true us.
“As a disabled women there is not much I can do about my disability, my height, my scars and my curved bones so I’ve learned to embrace them and simply love me because I’m unique.
“In a world where we all seem to want to be sheep, I am a wolf and that’s amazing!”
“I have been through hell and back with my body, feeling insecure and defeated just because my body didn’t look a certain way, until it came to me that I was not the only one who felt this way – men and women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds did too.
“Being young and naive, I envied my slimmer friends who could eat what they wanted whilst I was afraid. What I didn’t realise is that they felt they were TOO slim and so felt they had to compensate.
“What I feel about the term ‘body positive’, which I get so angry about, is that it is not a whole size thing. Being body confident is not just being plus-size and being happy, it’s being confident in your own skin no matter what you look like. So I feel that nobody really thinks about the other side. Everyone associates body positivity with being plus-size, whereas what about the slimmer girls?
“I believe that no matter what size, no matter what background, your body is your body and no matter what others may say, everyone is beautiful and they should just rock it.”
Michelle Elman, 24, London
“Body positivity is a political movement started by fat women of colour. It was started in order to end the discrimination against marginalised bodies and to tackle diet culture.
“To me, it is a movement that emphasises that all bodies are worthy and deserving of respect, regardless of health.”
Danny Bowman, 22, York
“Body positivity to me means being comfortable in my own skin and feeling able to maintain my mental and physical health at the same time.
“Being body positive is not just about how you look physically, it’s about how you feel mentally. Being healthy in both is the key.”
HuffPost UK has reached out to Louise Thompson’s publisher but has yet to hear back at the time of publication.