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The Difference Between Body Positivity and Self­-Love

While self-love is highly encouraged, it's the acceptance and appreciation of body diversity that will ultimately act as the catalyst for change.

If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to what’s trending these days, you probably have seen articles about the Body Positive or BoPo Movement. Countless brands are associating their products with, and gearing their ads towards, the movement’s “feeling positive” about your body proclamation. The topic of “self-love” is currently garnering high numbers of “clicks” and “likes” on social media as well, and it is often described as the first step towards being “body positive.” Even though body positivity and self-love are two different things, they are both important pieces necessary for combating a larger systemic problem within our society, which is the marginalization of fat people.

Did you just flinch as you read the word “fat?” Well, that’s because the popular notion is that “fat” is synonymous with “bad.” It is a thought system that the Body Positive community is trying to dismantle. Being body positive means that one believes all bodies are good and deserve respect, no matter the size. It means that all bodies deserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and yes, even clothes that fit. Being body positive signifies that you consider everyone as an equal and fight for the visibility of those usually left out of the picture, literally. As we write this, less than 2% of media includes plus-­size women even though we are two-­thirds of the American population.

While trying to shift our own body ­obsessed thinking and tilting our morality scales towards being those who dare to take up more space, we also found immense self­-acceptance. Self-­love is the individual’s journey; it highlights living in the now, expressing kindness about your body as it is today, not banking on some future version of yourself to be happy. After waking up from the insanity of body ­shaming and letting go of the nonsensical definition of “the perfect body,” we experienced a lovely side­ effect: we simply dig ourselves more. Our softness is nice to touch, our large thighs are strong, and our lush arms are comfortable in an embrace. All of these great qualities and more became revealed as we became more aware that size is just another descriptor, not a moral judgment.

It’s about inclusivity, folks. It’s about visibility. It’s about marginalized shapes and sizes being seen and heard in the world. So when trainers, body ­builders, and other wellness professionals attempt to usurp the hashtags and mottos of the body positivity movement in social media only to validate a body type that is thin, slender, or perceived as fit—it rings hollow. Because the terminology gets seen as “trendy,” it is taken on while missing the point; it’s not lifting up the movement. It instead extinguishes the work that BoPo activists have vehemently stoked by sheer will.

That is why it’s thrilling to see the world is a­changing! As slothful as they have been, brands are coming around to the fact that the 67% of American women who are a size 14 or above not only have money to spend but deserve to be seen in the world. For example, two boutique brands that are walking the walk are SmartGlamour, based out of New York, which provides fashion for sizes XXS­6X “and beyond,” and Los Angeles’ Melissa Masse, a designer known for her Made-­to­-Measure high­-quality fashions that are crafted to any size at no extra cost. Even larger, national brands have skin in the game; Aerie, a lingerie offshoot of American Eagle Outfitters, has gone as far as pledging not to retouch any of their images. That’s huge commitment!

Here’s the deal on why that’s impactful: we’ve learned that 91% of women are unsatisfied with their bodies. Part of the reason why SO MANY women become miserable when thinking about their bodies is the unrealistic alterations of female bodies that bombard us in magazines, fashion, film, tv, and media. The vast majority of images are photoshopped beyond recognition, sometimes beyond practical human anatomy! To turn around the mindset that judges bodies based on size, we have to first acknowledge that the bias is happening. Awareness is key. While a personal self­-love journey is something that we highly encourage, being truly body positive and accepting that everyone deserves love will help make systemic change.


 "Actor/influencersActor/influencers Kathy Deitch and Eva Tingley spearheaded PlusThis!, the multimedia brand which features pop-culture, fashion, and current debates regarding food and health, the societal negativity and stereotypes that surround women who dare to take up a little bit of space. The duo are broadcasting Live every Thursday at 6 pm PT from Universal Broadcasting Network and simultaneously across several platforms including Facebook Live and YouTube Live.


Photo Credit: Digital Skillet/Shutterstock

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