Body Positivity Might Not Be Helping That Much

Take a look around the internet, or the mall, or honestly wherever and you’ll see body positive marketing. You might assume every little girl is growing up with a better body image thanks to last decade’s size-zero models being replaced by fuller-figured “real women” in Aerie billboards.

But, you wouldn’t necessarily be correct.

After all, we like to think that hashtags like #bodyposi and #photoshopfree will help other women (not to mention ourselves) stop stressing so much about our own bodies, but there’s not much proof that it actually affects us all that much.

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In fact, according to a survey taken by Refinery 29 on body image, 6 in 10 women agreed there is “more acceptance of different body types than 10 years ago.” But 30% of women said they don’t see themselves in that acceptance. Combine that with the 40% of women who don’t think there’s more acceptance of different body types, and it means about 70% of women don’t think body positivity is helping them personally.

That’s kind of confusing, but it also makes perfect sense. After all, when the survey asked girls to name their body-posi role models, they named Serena Williams, Ashley Graham, and Khloe Kardashian.

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First off, the fact that Khloe Kardashian is on the list shocked me, considering her days of being the closest Kardashian to plus-size status are long gone.

Second, Serena Williams and Ashley Graham may not have the typical supermodel body, but their bodies are banging and definitely not average. So many women would love to have the muscles that Serena slays with, or the insane proportions of Ashley Graham’s hip to waist ratio.

And that’s the thing, so many of these “body-posi” role models are just that: women who might wear larger sizes than a runway model, but still have insane body proportions that make them look like a Coca-Cola bottle – not to mention an incredibly gorgeous face. Representation of different body types is incredibly important and it’s great that plus-size models are becoming mainstream. But they’re still about 900 times more gorgeous than the average person.

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Obviously, this isn’t their fault. That’s like shaming super models who are naturally skinny, but still. You can look at someone like Iskra Lawrence and think she looks amazing at a size 14, but you can look at yourself at a size 4 and still think you look like crap. Maybe you think your boobs aren’t big enough, or your arms look huge compared to the rest of your body, or you have no hips and look like a teenage boy. But, if you posted a bikini selfie with the hashtag #bodyposi, you’d potentially get hate from people saying you’re “way too thin to be body-posi” and “just looking for attention.”

Obviously, we’re harder on ourselves than we are on others, and girls admitted they knew this was the case in the R29 survey. But that doesn’t make it any easier. It also doesn’t stop us from caring what other people think and being subjected to their commentary on our bodies.

Just because plus-sized models are finally being accepted in the mainstream fashion industry doesn’t mean that guys on Tinder aren’t going to ask you degrading things like “do you like sucking dick as much as you like to eat?” or that your mom isn’t going to question your decision to get a second plate of food at the 4th of July barbecue.

The internet might feel like a “safe space” for being unapologetically in love with your body, assuming you follow the right people. But the real world still isn’t. And, truth be told, not all of us feel like we look as great as Ashley Graham at a size 16 – or at any size – and it’s possible that no amount of body posi accounts on Instagram is going to change that.

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