What Body Positivity Actually Means (or Meant)

“Body positivity” was born in 1996 and has an actual definition and core competencies. Learn about The Body Positive organization’s mission and vision here. Explore the competencies here. There’s a fantastic article on Everyday Feminism, by Kaila Prins, “Here’s Why the Definition of Body Positivity Isn’t Up for Debate.”

One of the tenets of body positivity, as described in the core competencies, is “develop a weight-neutral, health-centered approach to self-care.” (The Body Positive. 2016. The Be Body Positive Core Competencies. Retrieved from URL) So, weight neutrality is inherent to body positivity.

Unfortunately, through the capitalistic co-opting body positivity and inevitable dilution as it gained popularity, the actual meaning of body positivity has been warped into something almost unrecognizable from its origin. I’ve seen people, both not-fat and fat, vigorously defend their understanding of body positivity as inclusive of intentional weight loss, regardless of the actual definition of body positivity. Instead of what its founders intended, body positivity in the mainstream has been distorted into more of a “bodily autonomy positivity” or “self love positivity.”

I don’t think that returning body positivity to its original meaning is a winnable war. If other people want to fight that battle, more power to them.

To put it politely, I don’t mess with that twisted interpretation of body positivity. I identify specifically as fat positive, not body positive. Fat positivity came around decades before body positivity, and it hasn’t been co-opted, mainstreamed, and corrupted to the extent body positivity has.

Today’s body positivity excludes fat people; it tolerates and even praises intentional weight loss. It’s just another form of diet culture, sadly.

Additional reading:

What Does Body Positivity Actually Mean? by Katherine Schreiber and Heather Hausenblas Ph.D. at Psychology Today

What is Body Positivity? by Sydney Cunningham at The Signal

What Is the Body Positive Movement? by Marie Southard Ospina and Bustle at Everyday Feminism

11 Influencers Discuss The Differences Between Body Positivity & Fat Acceptance by Marie Southard Ospina at Bustle

15 Definitions Of Body Positivity Straight From Influencers & Activists by Alysse Dalessandro at Bustle



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