An interesting Op Ed was recently published to online publication Redbook Magazine discussing the fine line between body positivity and body obsession. Lisa Fogarty, an adult female who has been recovered from anorexia nervosa for many years, delved into her unique thoughts on the body positivity movement and the way it is both helping and hurting society at large. Fogarty’s piece focuses on how a movement of any kind that surrounds the female body continues to promote discussion of the female form (whether positive or negative) in the mainstream media. Fogarty yearns for the day that bodies aren’t referenced positively… or negatively–simply that body type is not discussed at all.
In the publication, Lisa bravely reflects on her history with anorexia, a disease that she struggled with for nearly two decades. Lisa recounted how an element of privilege (being able to afford quality treatment) and a strong support team (a “lioness” mother) provided her with an environment in which she could overcome this potentially devastating disease. As she looks back on her experience from a place of mental wellness, she recounts how celebrities, blogs and influencers highlighted an idealized body image throughout her young adult life, and that while we have made great strides in our discussion of the female form, an evolution of thought needs to happen.
With the rise of the body positivity movement, progress has been made to de-emphasize the importance of a ‘perfect’ female frame, and instead, embrace the true female form—tall, short, skinny, stretch marks, you name it. Fogarty references a number of brands who have taken stances to stomp out the use of photoshop and utilize “real women” in their campaigns. In these campaigns, scantily clad women stand bravely in front of the lens posing, cellulite and all. Fogarty fully supports this movement and promotes that women feel confident in their skin but reports that these campaigns are not representative of all women–not all women feel comfortable in their bodies. She writes “All of these things are a step in the right direction — that is, towards normalizing and celebrating all bodies — and will hopefully someday result in our kids feeling even just a little bit more confident about themselves when they step out into the real world. But there’s another reality here that seems almost wrong to address when everyone is suddenly so gung-ho about their bodies: not all of this inspiring pro-body talk resonates with all women.”
While this has surely initiated a wave of change and has the potential to heal society’s superficial norms, Fogarty feels that this body positive movement continues to put women’s bodies at the forefront. And for women struggling with eating disorders and body image issues, the focus on their news feeds continue to be bodies. Fogarty writes “the only way I’ve found healing from my disorder is by understanding that I don’t have to participate in society’s intense focus on women’s bodies. So, when I stumble upon a #loveyourbody hashtag — regardless of the body size or shape of the woman posing for the photo — I think: that’s great for you. You’re amazing. But when the hell will we be able to stop talking almost exclusively about how women look?”
Fogarty, L. (2018, April 26). The Problem With Body Positivity. Retrieved from https://www.redbookmag.com/body/a13446174/body-positivity-problem/