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Embody the Positivity | Willa Norvell

Over the summer, hundreds of teens woke up in the morning, started scrolling through TikTok, and came across a song that had blown up overnight, directed at the beauty standards established by the most renowned undergarment store for women. Music artist Jax shared her take on the unfairness of looking up to supermodels at Victoria’s Secret, sparking a huge social media uprising to support validating thousands of impressionable young women. Her work as well as that of many others over the past few months have evoked new thoughts on the concept of body positivity, questioning recent interpretations, progress, and if we as a society are actually accomplishing what the movement set out to do in the first place.


The action of body positivity dates back all the way to the 1960s, accompanying radical changes with racial discrimination and recognition of minority groups. Its initial purpose was to challenge fashion and beauty standards to validate different body types, especially when it comes to representing multiple ethnic groups. Overtime, the popularity of body positivity has sky-rocketed with the help of social media and worldwide news. However, as any one of us well knows, the media often skews actual news and replaces an individual’s original intent with a conclusion that benefits already privileged groups.


Body positivity was no exception to this occurrence. Rather than acknowledging the minority that was most affected by this phenomenon, corporations took the public’s adoration and marketed it, attempting to flip the script as if they were on the right side of history from the start. Some companies have been publicly criticized for not even trying to incorporate new suggestions. One such clothing store popular amongst teens is Brandy Melville, a European franchise that has expanded across the United States. Most famous for their “one size fits all” motto, Brandy Melville has tried to justify that their sets are for the “average” body type when they simply cater to a very specific group. Unfortunately, this excludes the people that started the movement in the first place, dismissing their shape as not average, implying that change on their part must be made in order to quite literally, fit in.


Oppositely, icons like Lizzo have spoken up constantly in regards to the lack of action, filling in as the role model she wished she had as a young girl. In response to the performative and counterproductive action from various organizations, the singer notes that assimilating the conventionally accepted body types, as in bodies that get rolls every now and then, simply does not shed enough light on the affected demographic. It is completely normal to feel uncomfortable or insecure as you grow up no matter your body type, but influencers, advertisers and brands need to do much better when it comes to honoring those who always get lost in the midst of the action.


In the end though, what even is body positivity? The definition of this key term is often muddy and differs depending on an individual’s stance on the topic. Ultimately, the most common explanation is the advocacy for acceptance of all body types (shape, size, skin tone, etc.). With such a broad description, it becomes more apparent why there are so many interpretations. However, this means that the history and true roots of the movement can easily be erased, making it ten times more important to remember who we need to be fighting for.


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