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How effective has the body positivity movement really been?

The body positivity movement is one that has swept the cultural dialogue in recent years. It is a term of which we have all become familiar, whether from social media, television or conversation. It is an undeniable part of the cultural zeitgeist. The body positivity movement originated in the 1960s, although the term ‘body positivity movement’ was not dubbed until much later. The movement was first known as the ‘fat acceptance movement’ and began in New York city as a protest against the negative manner in which plus-sized individuals were being treated. Nowadays, body positivity is a calling to reject unrealistic and often unhealthy beauty standards and accept your appearance, regardless of whether or not it is what the media portrays as the most desirable. Since this movement became popular in recent years, body positivity has seemingly been rampant, with plus-sized models being featured on magazines and plus-sized social media creators celebrating their bodies. But how effective has this movement really been?

When scrolling social media, it is typical to click into the comment section of someone who is plus-sized or may not fit the conventional standard of beauty and see a series of comments such as, ‘you’re so brave’ or ‘I love your confidence.’ It is even common to see comments that are much less backhanded and forthcoming in their hatefulness. With the body positivity movement being rampant on these platforms, why is it that comments like these are so common? It seems that with the movement’s growing popularity, people have become even more resolute in tearing down those who dare be confident in themselves. Compare this to the comment section of someone thin and conventionally attractive, and the difference is stark. ‘I wish I looked like this’ and ‘wow you’re beautiful’ are typical of the comments found on these accounts. if the body positivity movement has been so effective, why are so many people still reaching for these conventional beauty standards? It appears as though judgement from those on social media has been a motivator for this, with nobody wishing to be on the receiving end of nasty comments and everybody wishing to be revered for their beauty.

Weight loss supplements continues to be a booming market. The drug ozempic, originally invented to treat diabetes, has become a popular weight loss drug. Since the ozempic craze spread online, more and more people are attempting to access the drug to help them lose weight. This has lead to those with diabetes who need the drug being unable to access it. It has become so common that many celebrities have openly admitted to using it for weight loss, despite not being diabetic. Sales of the drug rose by 36% in 2023. If body positivity is so prevalent, why are so many risking their health to be thinner, despite the negative side-effects that the drug may cause? Those diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia have doubled between the years 2000 and 2018, going from 3.4% to 7.8%. Although there are multiple factors that contribute to eating disorders, the body positivity movement has clearly been ineffective in improve many people’s body image.

It is not only weight loss supplements that have become increasingly popular, plastic surgery treatments have also become more prevalent. It appears as though many are still trying to adhere to conventional beauty standards despite the messaging that they should reject this narrative and love themselves as they are. Plastic surgery rates have increased by 19% since 2019 alone, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. It has become significantly easier to market cosmetic surgery via social media, with images of celebrities before and after procedures becoming rampant. This has lead many to believe that if they get these procedures that they themselves can increase their self esteem and lead a more fulfilling life. Like i said previously, it is common to wish to be revered for one’s looks. With the body positivity movement being so widespread, it is baffling that these issues of low self-confidence are evidently on the rise. What is it that the movement is failing to do to reach so many people? Why do so many believe that they must look a certain way to achieve their goals in life? Perhaps it is time to re-strategize and evaluate what needs to be done next to convince the public that they are enough as they are and end this insidious hatred towards those who do not conform to traditional beauty standards.

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