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Sunday, May 20, 2018

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The Body Positivity movement helps women reclaim their bodies


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The Body Positivity Movement has sought to counteract the narrowness of standards in the beauty world and make diversity a more normalized facet of beauty. Simply put, it’s a campaign to promote acceptance of all body types.

The movement attained momentum through the introduction of social media, but it has also ignited many controversies over whether it provides justification for unhealthy lifestyles.  

This shift in social thought has allowed women to re-explore their femininity away from the condemning gaze of the unrealistic standards of beauty.

Fifty-four percent of women aged 18-40 express insecurity and dissatisfaction with their looks, a dangerous side effect of the media assaulting us with image after image of flawless individuals. Not only does this practice foster feelings of inferiority, but it also addresses the issue of using photoshop in magazines and on social media.

The message is clear: Natural appearances are no longer enough.

The body positivity campaign has become so widely perpetuated that corporations and organizations are being forced to modify their stances to accommodate this new philosophy.

Brands such as Aerie and Dove have used the popularity of body acceptance as a marketing technique, and the introduction of plus size models such as Jennie Runk and Saffi Karina is finally adding some representation to more marginalized groups. 

When these models appear on advertisements and in magazines though, I cannot help thinking how “healthy” they seem. This inherent assumption made on my part — that plus size models wouldn’t be in shape — shows the institutionalized nature of these standards so deeply embedded within us.

This movement towards reclaiming love for all body types is not so much a statement, but rather a correction of a power imbalance that has dominated us for far too long.

It has received many criticisms about justifying an unhealthy lifestyle and making obesity a fashion statement. This is a common misconception, as the movement seeks to normalize healthy bodies which have been distorted by societal standards to seem overweight.

This description of healthy bodies extends to those who are eating properly and exercising regularly but do not fit within the celebrity bodies so widely perpetuated as the norm.

What is often forgotten is that, just as how supporting women’s rights does not make an individual anti-man, supporting body positivity does not mean skinnier, more typical bodies are being shamed.

Women are judged by their appearance before their personality, and this fundamental removal of humanity leads to such a gross objectification that it is no shock that up to 10 percent of college-aged women have eating disorders.

The unrealistic and unbelievable bodies I was exposed to on a daily basis throughout my adolescence led to my own experience with eating disorders. It is a norm, almost a trend, to be in the bathroom puking up lunches to be one step closer to a size two waist.

It seems the media has managed to foster a far more intimate relationship with our bodies than we ever could. This is evident in the rampant objectification of celebrity bodies in the media. Certain aspects are praised so immediately while others are entirely rejected as having any value.

A chorus of models and actresses express their annoyance with this obsession. More and more voices have acclaimed the Body Positivity Movement for providing the confidence that society robbed them of initially.

This campaign has begun to entrench itself in our lifestyles. The opportunity to redefine what we consider as beautiful manifests itself across many platforms, but it must be seized before our identities can be enhanced by our bodies, not hindered.

Opinion editor Anusueh Siddique is a political science freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]

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