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We need to start talking about body diversity, simply because the body positivity movement isn’t as empowering as it sounds. Nor is it as impactful when considering the perceived exclusions and beliefs of what is beautiful.
Body positivity is defined as having appreciation and acceptance for all body types, while body diversity is the actual representation of all body types, ethnicities, and experiences. We need to see representation of all types of people in the media in order to recognize the beauty in diversity, thus normalizing it.
By only focusing on the appreciation, we exclude those who feel like they don’t fit a certain box. So models who embrace their body like Tess Holiday, will continue to receive backlash for their size because they don’t fit society’s perception of the ideal body. If the message was one that embraced body diversity, then any size could be seen without judgement.
According to the DoSomething campaign, 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and only five percent possess the ideal body type portrayed on TV. This tells us that the body positivity campaigns and conversations are not sticking, so we need a change in the messaging that shows their reality.
I, like many, fell into the “do you think I look fat” trap after receiving a compliment from a friend. Or complaining about my weight as I compared it to peers and celebrities. There are things I don’t like about my body, but I have since realize how amazing I am and have used my platform to promote the normalization of diverse bodies.
Companies like All Womxn Project and Body Diversity LLC by Mercedez Cunanan are dedicated to doing just that by spreading body positivity, diversity, confidence, and inclusivity across social media. The All Womxn Project conducted a social media campaign encouraging women to post pictures of their “flaws.” This built a community of over 20,000 followers.
“91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and only five percent possess the ideal body type portrayed on TV”
Mercedez Cuman lead a body diversity photoshoot in Hawaii, bringing to the forefront beautiful women in a variety of sizes showing confidence, strength, and unity.
The fashion industry, overall, still needs work. Making great fashion for all sizes, not just 0-12, would be a start. However, brands like Universal Standards and Chromat are strutting through the industry unapologetically showcasing diversity and individuality as beautiful, and it’s inspiring to see.
In 2012, scientific journal Plos One published a study demonstrating the correlation between visuals shown to women of different body types. They found that women became more comfortable with their body when they saw a range in sizes of other women’s bodies. The study shows the impact diverse representation in the media can have.
Body positivity and body diversity are often used separately, but both must work together. Body positivity is a state of being and a feeling of inner-confidence. Body diversity is the representation of the body’s outer state. It’s knowing this is who I am and how my body looks, and I love myself. So when we combine our outer with our inner, our power as a woman evolves. We embrace who we are and go into the world confidently.