I recently came across a link for a “Body Positive” fitness company (not gonna name it or give it linky power) that had the word “Thick” in their company name and states as their goal:
…body positive movement that encourages women to accept and become the best version of themselves through health and fitness.
Sounded pretty good. So I decided to take a look around. I saw a conventionally super thin fitness model type. And then I saw lots more pictures of her. Then I realized that the whole thing was created by a model.
I rooted around on the site to see if I could spot any body diversity. On the front there was a picture of a bunch of women of slightly differing body types. We were looking at a size range from maybe 00 to maybe a size 8? Okay. I kept looking. I finally found a picture of a body over size 10 on a candid shot from one of their “tours”. One body that they didn’t manage to crop out.
I then went to their retail section. I clicked on a cute crop-top emblazoned with the words “Because Goals”. All the clothing was displayed on the same model who created the site. I clicked on the sizes. Wow! The crop top came in TWO sizes, XS/S and M/L. I found I could also find “Guilt Free” powdered peanut butter, and I got a coupon for a meal delivery service offering paleo and weight loss and “contest prep” meals. Oh, I could also buy this mug:
At this point I was getting more than a little annoyed. In the schedule a class section I found this:
…a program that caters to the female who wants to burn total body fat while also building muscle in the lower body.
The blog section shared with me some information about how to cut calories, how to lose body fat, how to stay in the fat burning zone and blah, blah, blah. And all of this was under the heading of “body positive”.
It really pisses me off. We have girls at age 5 worrying about the size of their thighs. We have eating disorders among very young women increasing at dramatic levels. And then we have sites promising a “body positive” space that are covered with pictures of super-models and t-shirts that go to a size L. We have companies using “body positivity” to sell weight loss, compulsive exercise, diet potions and pills, meal replacements and disordered eating in a box. And before you suggest that this trend only refers to this company, let me assure you that it is everywhere.
Body positive is for EVERY BODY or it’s for nobody. Suggesting that you are body positive and then only showing bodies ranging in size from 00 to 04 is worse than not using the word body positive at all. When you call something a “body positive” environment and then create an environment where a woman (or girl) at size 12 or 22 or 32 is shamed you are doing way more harm than good. Because you’re giving that girl or that woman the message that body positive is only for people who fall within an extremely narrow range. When you have apparently flawless people talking about accepting their flaws it gives the message that certain kinds of nearly invisible flaws are okay, but your flaws clearly make you a monster. It’s false advertising. It’s deceitful. It’s harmful. And its very, very wrong.
I think we need to start fighting back against companies that use body positive language to sell us stuff that isn’t body positive at all. I think we need to be a little bit careful when companies use body positive language to sell us anything at all. I think we need to be very clear that when body positive doesn’t include EVERY BODY, it’s not very positive at all.
Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
P.S. Want me to come talk to your school or company or organization about what body positive really means? You can click here to learn more, or just email me at jeanette at thefatchick dot com.
P.S.S. Want to go to a body positive space that features really a lot of different sizes? Check out our forum at Fit Fatties.