In 2015, Women's Health removed the phrases "bikini body" and "drop two sizes" from their magazines, suggesting that they fostered a negative body-image in readers and were not body positive. The goal of body positivity is to create a positive self-image of oneself. This notion connects to the domineering standard of beauty in which “beauty” is manifested in women who are generally white, have clear skin, and are, most significantly, thin - these ideals are shown in rhetoric like "bikini body." The movement primarily focuses on celebrating bodies that exist outside of this standard and appreciating our bodies for what they can do - not only what they look like.
Even companies have gotten in on the body positive movement. Aerie, American Eagle’s lingerie branch, initiated a body positive movement called #AerieREAL, in which they have entirely stopped retouching their lingerie models. On Aerie’s website, it reads, “It’s more than no retouching. It’s about loving your real self. It’s about empowerment. We want everyone to feel confident inside & out.” This campaign is one of the first steps in companies recognizing the implications of presenting a specific standard of beauty in their advertising and making efforts for conscious change.
Social media provides a welcoming, interactive space for people to share their body positive inspiration and stories. Many of the people running these accounts are in recovery from eating disorders, body dysmorphia or negative self-image. This means that the following content and linked material may discuss disordered eating and triggering content, so view at your own discretion.
Here are six body positive accounts you should be following!
1. Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodiposipanda)
Megan began her body positive account three years ago while she was in recovery from an eating disorder. She promotes her body positivity through her feminist attitudes, rejection of diet culture and her focus not defining oneself by weight. In an interview with TODAY, Megan said, "Every day we're inundated with before and after weight loss pictures telling us that the way to be happy is by shrinking our bodies; I wanted to show people that happiness isn't a size. You don't have to spend your life chasing weight loss to feel beautiful, happy or worth — you deserve to feel all of those things as you are." Megan recently published a book, Body Positive Power: How to Stop Dieting, Make Peace With Your Body, and Live. Her book description reads, "This book is for every person who has ever felt bad about themselves and wondered if life would be cooler/easier/more fun if they just looked 'better’ somehow." Check out her blog here.
2. Gina Susanna (@nourishandeat)
Gina is an eating disorder survivor who speaks openly about her recovery and uses her platform to promote body positivity. She uses a weekly hashtag, #embracethesquish, to encourage others to share pictures of their body and celebrate it for what it is. In an interview, Gina spoke about how she deals with negative body image feelings: “I look at the things I’m unhappy with at the moment, and I allow myself to feel whatever emotions come to me at the time...I allow them to take up space in my mind, just for a moment. And then I look at the things I’m really loving, or feeling confident about, and I remember how those things are so much more important, but also how my beauty is not dependent on the things I am secure or insecure about. How I am more than the shape of this body I’ve been given.”
3. Gloria Lucas (@nalgonapositivitypride)
Gloria noticed a lack of Latina voices in the body positive movement and created her account in order to bring awareness to eating disorders affecting Latina women. Nalgona Posivity Pride ("nalgona" means "big butt" in Spanish) is a space for people of color to openly discuss their eating disorders and promote body positivity. She refers to her network as “Xican-Brown*-Indigenous” and dedicated to “decolonizing” body positivity. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gloria said, “People of color received very mixed messages about their bodies. There’s the message that we’re inferior, that we are dirty, that we are ugly, that we’re not intelligent.” Her account seeks to eradicate this message of inferiority and create a more inclusive and diverse body positive society, as well as promote eating disorder recovery.
4. Michelle Elman (@bodypositivememes & @scarrednotscared)
Michelle takes a unique twist on the movement by taking negative memes and remaking them into emblems of body positivity. In her one account, @bodypositivememes, she takes images or memes that adversely target physical appearance, usually ones that are fatphobic or encourage disordered eating, and writes text over them to make them body positive. Michelle also runs another account, @scarrednotscared, in which she goes more in-depth with her personal struggle to become body positive and how she embodies this confidence in day-to-day life. She makes an important distinction on one of her Instagram posts about how to live body positive, saying it is more focused on actions and conscious choices to embody a positive self-image: "You do it every single day. You do it when you stop yourself right before you are about to mention a diet. You do it when you intervene on body shaming. You do it when you look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you love you, even when you don't want to. You do it when you stop a fat girl in the street to tell her how amazing she looks." Take a look at Michelle’s blog here.
5. Dana Suchow (@dothehotpants)
Dana, a feminist, social activist and eating disorder survivor, used to be a fashion blogger until she realized that the fashion industry was nourishing her eating disorder. She focuses on the toxic standards of beauty in society and how women are expected to adhere to social norms without question or defiance, like shaving their legs and wearing makeup. She argues body hair should be considered genderless. On one of her Instagram posts, Dana wrote, "I challenge you to unpack the feelings of 'I prefer shaving' or 'It feels better to have smooth legs.' Because I promise if all the ads on tv had leg hair, most of you would be singing a different tune. I am not telling you to stop shaving. I am simply challenging you to question why you shave and when you noticed your hair body as something to be 'fixed.' Because whether you're aware or not, the reasons go deeper than just 'I like the feeling.'" Dana frequently posts pictures of herself that are atypical of what we’re used to seeing on social media, like images of herself with acne cream on, pictures of her leg hair and her makeup-free face. Her blog can be found here.
6. Reesie Tottingham (@reesielove1121)
Reesie uses her social media platform to not only promote body positivity but also mental health awareness. She is an eating disorder survivor who actively inspires self-love and positive self-image. Reesie also defies the cultural norm of women shaving their legs and armpits - her feed is filled with images of her body hair to normalize body hair on women. Because of her following, her account is inspiring for women to question why they shave and whether or not they are doing it for themselves or just to embody society’s expectations. In an Instagram post, Reesie wrote, "Shake up the pot. Be different. Be comfortable. Your beauty is defined by YOU and YOU alone. If you like it...I love it. You do you boo."