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Selena Gomez’s Swimwear Collaboration Shouldn’t Make Her The Face Of Body Positivity

On July 3, Selena Gomez launched her swimsuit collaboration with La’Mariette, wowing fans as she rocked a purple bikini and one-piece with neon green and pink designs. The new “Aura” collection features six swimsuits, and all pieces are available in sizes XS-2XL on the La’Mariette website. In an Instagram post announcing and celebrating the launch, Gomez wrote in her caption, “What I love about this brand is that it celebrates women [who] love their bodies unconditionally giving themselves the grace they deserve.” 

Although Gomez received praise and love for the seemingly non-Photoshopped photo shoot with Instagram comments saying “OBSESSED!!” and “HOW ARE YOU THIS BEAUTIFUL,” other users were quick to unsolicitedly comment on her weight (which is just never okay, ever). Some users went as far as to call Gomez “unhealthy,” while others said that they were glad to finally see “realistic bodies” represented in the media.

Though it is important to encourage and celebrate diversifying different body types and models in mainstream media, calling Gomez’s body “realistic” is not actually true. Many women’s bodies don’t actually look like hers; in fact, the average American woman’s clothing size is now between 16 to 18. And if people think that calling her body “realistic” and “natural” is a compliment, it isn’t; if anything, these types of comments are merely backhanded. The fact that people believe this is a compliment also sheds light on a related topic that has been brought up amid Gomez’s photo shoot: the body positivity movement.

The body positivity movement has been rebranded, twisted, and whitewashed by big brands and corporations, contorting its entire meaning.

Like many other popularized movements, the body positivity movement has been rebranded, twisted, and whitewashed by big brands and corporations, contorting its entire meaning. When many influencers and brands talk about body positivity, the discussion is usually accompanied with words like “self-love” — however, at its root, the body positivity movement is a movement that began with fat acceptance and the advocacy of social justice of Black and brown bodies. 

Victoria Welsby, a body positive activist and the founder of Fierce Fatty, explains to Her Campus that the body positivity movement originated from the fat liberation movement that began in the 1960s. “It was started by fat queer people of color, [but] it gained more traction in the 1990s. Its objectives are to increase the acceptance of fat and marginalized bodies and seeks to ensure fat people have the same rights and access as straight sized folks,” Welsby tells Her Campus. 

However, these objectives have become diluted as “the size acceptance movement has been co-opted by people who want the focus to be on them,” Peggy Howell, public relations director at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), tells Her Campus.

“She is the epitome of a normative body. Which isn’t bad or her fault, it’s just that she can’t use her body as a tool to deconstruct beauty standards and fatphobia.”

While some are now calling Gomez a new face of the body positivity movement for flaunting her “realistic” body type, others believe that she shouldn’t be a new forefront figure of the movement because it wasn’t intended for people like her who are mid sized and thin.

“Gomez isn’t promoting [body positivity]. If anything, she is promoting unrealistic standards of beauty but also showing enough ‘realness’ to not to be seen as benefiting too much from upholding those standards including fatphobia,” Welsby tells Her Campus. “It’s not clear if her intention is to be [body positive] versus embracing the message of ‘love your body.’ She is certainly not promoting size diversity with this promo as [La’Mariette] only goes to a pitiful 2XL — which is pretty small. This further marginalizes fat people who get excited that something might come in their size only to be disappointed yet again. She is also not promoting having a ‘realistic body’ as most people don’t look like her. She is the epitome of a normative body. Which isn’t bad or her fault, it’s just that she can’t use her body as a tool to deconstruct beauty standards and fatphobia.”

Liz Black, a body positive activist and plus size fashion blogger and journalist, agrees that Gomez should not be a new face of the movement. “She has a completely socially accepted body, and is quite slim, so although I’m sure she’s experienced body image issues [and] hateful comments (especially being a celebrity in the public eye), ‘body positivity’ in the traditional sense is not for her,” Black says. “She isn’t systemically treated poorly by society for her size, shape, or looks. She isn’t being discriminated against, she can shop in literally any store, she isn’t being denied medical treatment or being encouraged by medical professionals to lose weight.” Fat people undergo different societal obstacles due to societal fatphobia, such as fat-shaming, every single day — and these types of negative attitudes can have serious consequences. In fact, women seen as fat tend to receive poorer medical care, and the stress that fatphobia causes in fat people can even lead to a higher likelihood of acquiring a chronic illness

Gomez never asked to be the face of the body positivity movement, so it may be unfair for people to hold her to that standard.

“I get that as a celebrity there’s plenty of trash publications who will call her ‘fat’ or whatever fatphobic garbage they want to swill,” Black continues, “but again, fatphobic trash media calling someone who is clearly not fat ‘fat’ doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a socially acceptable body — it just means there’s still plenty of fatphobic trash media that need to be called out and stopped.”

However, Welsby notes that Gomez also never asked to be the face of the body positivity movement, so it may be unfair for people to hold her to that standard. “I don’t think Gomez is asking to be the face of [body positivity], and neither should she be. A lot of people are just super confused about what body positivity is — it’s not about loving your body, [but is] about uplifting marginalized bodies.”

Though Gomez should not be a face of the body positivity movement, she should not be shamed for her weight — no one should be, ever. There is still so much room to improve in diversifying models and showcasing bigger bodies in mainstream media, ultimately uplifting marginalized bodies like the true body positivity movement has been trying to do for years — but Gomez does not fit the bill. She looks amazing in this photo shoot and I commend her for loving her body unconditionally and promoting self-love, but self-love is not synonymous with body positivity. So can we just tell Selena Gomez that she looks good, period?

Experts:

Liz Black, Plus Size Fashion Blogger and Journalist 

Peggy Howell, Public Relations Director at NAAFA

Victoria Welsby, Founder of Fierce Fatty

Zoë is a summer 2021 editorial intern at Her Campus and a rising senior at Loyola Marymount University where she studies English and public relations. In her free time, Zoë can be found taking photos, reading, and going to cute (but overpriced) coffee shops.
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