Social Justice Usage
Source: Chrisler, Joan C. “The Body Positive Approach to Healthy Embodiment: Review of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!), by Connie Sobczak,” Fat Studies 4(1): 58–61, p. 59.
The body-positive approach is based on the development of five “core competencies”: Reclaim Health (realize that body size is unrelated to physical fitness, develop a weight-neutral approach to self-care/health habits), Practice Intuitive Self-care (learn to recognize the body’s needs [rest, activity, nutrition] and signals [hunger, satiety], learn to satisfy the body’s needs “intuitively” “[rather than by following rigid rules for diet and exercise]”), Cultivate Self-Love (learn to treat oneself compassionately, forgive mistakes, accept flaws, recognize the self as worthy of love), Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty (reject the cultural beauty ideal; recognize diverse ways to be, feel, and appreciate beauty; “inhabit your unique body with joy and confidence”), and Build Community (develop relationships with others who take a body-positive approach, model ways to love and respect one’s own and others’ bodies.)
See also: Body Positivity, 5 Competencies
New Discourses Commentary
The body-positive movement is a component of contemporary fat activism that, depending upon its focus, attempts to overcome attitudes of “fatphobia,” “fat shaming,” “thin privilege,” and “thin-normativity,” the last two being most prominent when taken up under the purview of (critical) fat studies.
On the one hand, body positivity—the attitude associated with the movement—aims to try to help overweight and obese people (especially women—see also, fat feminism—and sometimes, when intersectionally analyzed, specifically black women) accept themselves and their overweight status as they are so that negative emotions are not tied up with it. This, of course, has the direct benefit of helping people not feel bad about themselves for a state of facts about the world (weight, BMI, body fat percentage, etc.), which can be demotivating and hinder weight loss attempts (or, which can just be mean and bullying—see also, fat shaming).
On the other hand, body positivity tends to rather aggressively deny any connection between weight status, including obesity, and health (see also, healthism). It rejects such connections as a “medicalized narrative” (see also, regulatory fiction). This rejects mountains of medical evidence suggesting otherwise, that being overweight and especially obese correlates strongly with and causes a number of serious health issues. This view relies upon seeing body weight status and obesity ultimately as a social construction that is used to create an unjust power dynamic that discriminates against and oppresses fat people. Activism in the body-positive movement often encourages overweight people not to want to lose weight (sometimes as a means of identity politics—see also, identity-first), which is irresponsible, at best (e.g., a book in the movement is titled You Have the Right to Remain Fat).
Activism within the body-positive movement also tends to include increasing fat representation, including through “fatshion” modeling (more commonly known as “plus-sized modeling,” a term that fat activism rejects as problematic). In the case where this is not received well or does not result in successful sales of product lines, the outcome is blamed on fatphobia (prejudice against fat people) and unjust “conventional beauty standards,” which are also seen as socially constructed and oppressive.
Critical; Fat acceptance; Fat activism; Fat feminism; Fat shaming; Fat studies; Fatphobia; Fatshion; Healthism; Healthy at Every Size; Identity; Identity-first; Identity politics; Injustice; Intersectionality; Medicalization; Narrative; Oppression; Problematic; Regulatory fiction; Social construction; Systemic power; Thin privilege; Thinnormativity;
Revision date: 6/30/20