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Body Positivity and Reclaiming Bopo

Phew. Learning to accept your body can be difficult for many of us, and the dislike of our bodies can have a huge impact on our mental health. For example, low body image has been linked to experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression in young people (Mental Health Foundation, 2011). So, it’s no surprise that […]
Body Positivity and Reclaiming Bopo

Body Positivity and Reclaiming Bopo

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Phew. Learning to accept your body can be difficult for many of us, and the dislike of our bodies can have a huge impact on our mental health. For example, low body image has been linked to experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression in young people (Mental Health Foundation, 2011). So, it’s no surprise that body positivity has become such a popular concept over the past decade. But, what is body positivity really about?

Guest blog author: @bodiposipoet and www.bodiposipoet.com

 

A brief history

Following the work of Fat Liberationist movements that began in the ’60s, the Body Positivity movement as we know it emerged in the early 2010s. It was born as an intersectional platform on social media for people living in marginalised bodies to create the space for representation that they were often denied in conventional media. Fat Black and brown people were at the forefront of this liberation movement to allow marginalised bodies to be seen, respected, valued and take up space.

What does body positivity mean?

The main message of body positivity was that all bodies are equal and should be treated equitably within society. Over time, however – as with most things – this messaging started to be lost.

Now, if you search #bodypositivity on social media platforms, it’s likely you’ll see very few posts by people of colour and people in larger bodies. Where body positivity was once about advocating for inclusivity for all bodies by centring the most marginalised bodies, in many ways it has now become a new definition of the ‘body ideal’, where only some bodies are seen as being worthy of acceptance.

However, while this movement has lost a lot of its original meaning, the messaging behind body positivity has also done a lot of good for many people! For instance, viewing body positive posts featuring larger bodies has been associated with improvements in mood, body satisfaction, and body appreciation (Cohen et al, 2019).

Recentring marginalised bodies

The original messaging of body positivity benefits us all, on so many levels. If we centre the most marginalised bodies in our journey towards equality– i.e. fat bodies, BIPOC bodies, disabled bodies and queer bodies – we also encompass equality for all other bodies closer to the body ideal, in doing so.

While different to the concept of self-love, body positivity can also help us to accept our own bodies. I know, for myself, I always found it easier to accept other people’s bodies before my own. So, in learning to accept, respect and appreciate bodies more marginalised than mine, I also learnt to accept my own body along the way.

Conclusion

If we want body positivity to really make a difference, then it’s important that we work towards #reclaimingbopo and once again start to centre the people who first brought body positivity to the forefront; those in the most marginalised bodies.

For more information on the #reclaimingbopo campaign, you can check out @reclaimingbopo on Instagram, as well as my own Instagram page and website.

References

www.centerfordiscovery.com/blog/fat-acceptance-movement/#:~:text=Or%2C%20rather%2C%20a%20%E2%80%9Cfat,loudly%20fat%20without%20being%20apologetic.

www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/articles/body-image-report-executive-summary/body-image-childhood#:~:text=One%20survey%20of%2011%E2%80%9316,’%20or%20’always’%20worry

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9589104/

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9589104/#B11

Want to write a guest blog for us?

Get in touch! hello@bebodypositive.org.uk

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