Is the "body positive" movement a consumerist revolution?

April 4, 2014

The body positive movement seeks to defy media projected bodily stereotypes, celebrate diversity and encourage bodily self-appreciation, warts and all! Does the body positive movement bring deliverance from uniformity or further fuel the consumer-led obsession with self-image? This article in Feminist Media Studies uses body positive websites: Lady Gaga's 'Body Revolution', 'My Body Gallery' and 'Stop Hating Your Body' to investigate further.

The study asks ' positive movement, helpful or harmful?' The sites promote sharing of self-images, personal accounts of body image experiences and showcase the differences in bodies, including the flaws. They provide opposition to the notion that one and all should look and 'be' alike. Is this akin to emancipation? Looking deeper, all 3 sites have commercial undertones and are proponents of acceptance via a 'journey' or process by which to heal negativity. This could be paralleled to TV shows accepting overweight bodies but proposing a journey back to fitness and self-improvement. The need to right a wrong is similar in both instances and both lead to "consumer-mediated body regulation". Furthermore, the revelation of bodies intended as defiance bears resemblance to the media-led exposure of the flesh which first caused the problem. Is it a case of if you can't beat them, join them? 'Body Positive' has been commercially coined in "bodypositive.org" promoting educational programs on and in selling women's sportswear. So, body positivity: corporeal revolution or consumer driven self-actualization?

The movement aims to "shift the focus from the modification of one's body to the modification of one's relationship to one's body". Its manifestations though are visual images and informal dialogues which follow a "prescribed performance of bodily acceptance". Is this a mirror image of the media and consumer-led standard it seeks to oppose?

More information: "Towards a Radical Body Positive: Reading the Online 'Body Positive Movement'" by Alexandra Sastre is published in Feminist Media Studies by Routledge, Taylor & Francis. www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2014.883420

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