Is Body Positivity All Inclusive?

Victoria’s Secret campaign in 2010 compared to Dove’s in 2004

By Lauren Anthony

Loving your body is important on all accounts, but it helps so much when campaigns are launched and companies spread the love for the human body. In a world where Victoria’s Secret has its annual fashion show, sometimes it feels really good to see ads with other body types. We, as a society, are trying to move away from having to be thin and having the perfect assets and into accepting what we are born with. Now, this is inclusive for all women, right?


Well, not exactly.

While the current body positivity movement is all fine and well, women of color among others are being left out of the scene. If you look at Dove’s campaign photo above you can see that the majority of women who are used for the campaign are white. Other campaigns have the same method going, so when first looking at it, you might think this is not much of a problem. So, why are all women not represented equally when it comes to body positivity?

Let’s start with a company like American Eagle that has gotten their first plus-size model for promotional purposes. While this is incredibly empowering no doubt for many women, the model is in fact white. What about having a model who is black or who is Asian? “Aerie Promotes Body Positivity with Latest Advertising Campaign” by Brenda Perry has a lot to offer to the body positivity movement by including plus-sized models and helping promote the hope that everyone can love their body as is. At the same time using a white model again leaves women of other races in the dark.

The few times you’ll see black women being represented in the body positivity movement is through the use of black plus-sized models. Granted, Victoria Secret’s rebuttal to Dove’s love your body campaign used some black models that were incredibly slender. However, women of color are still not well-represented. The majority of plus-sized models are white.

Yet, black women are important in the body positivity revolution beyond what is shown in commercials or ads in magazines. “Eight Body Positive Women of Color Who Have Inspired My Body Love” showcases women like Gabi Fresh, Lauryn Hill, Virgie Tovar and 5 other women. Hannah Eko, the writer of this piece, shares how each one of these woman help her feel empowered. Seeing these kinds of articles written shows that women of color can spread body positivity. Unfortunately, these articles are not on the Facebook news bar and have not received the same attention as articles about plus-sized white women who have come to love their body.

What is stopping other sizes of women of color to be able to pose for these campaigns and movements? Using only white women to start a movement is not going to help empower those who are not white. “Stop Excluding Black Women From Fat Acceptance Movements” points out that while plus-sized white women get praised, plus-sized black women are seen as fuel for comedy. One example is from sitcoms such as Family Guy and American Dad. Family Guy has Loretta and American Dad has Donna, both very outrageously portrayed black women who are a high sense of comedy for the shows but also plus-sized.

More black women are now being included into many aspects of television, films, magazines, etc. This is not being underappreciated. But it seems the use of black women in body positivity is still slim to none. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches shows a powerful representation of what women think of them and what others see in them. Not one black woman is represented in this video. How was this going to empower black women to feel that they are beautiful? So many questions, so many answers that I am not even sure of yet.

According to “Who is the Body Positivity Movement Leaving Behind?”, an article by Quinta Tinsley shares the fact that white women are the center for the body positivity movement, leaving women of color, disabled women, transgender women, and others out of the picture. “If you Google body positivity, most of the images show white folks –even cartoons.” And that is so true. When I googled certain campaigns such as the Dove real body campaign, a majority of women were white and many did not even have a woman of color.

Transgendered women are also not represented in body positive movements. The same article leaves us with this powerful message: “All bodies are beautiful and valuable, whether or not they are within the gender binary”.

People with disabilities are also underrepresented.

Instead of keeping women of color, women with disabilities, transgender women, and plus size women of color behind the scenes, let them be noticed for who they are and help inspire even more people in the body positivity movement.

It is so important to get the body positivity going for everyone, no matter what shape, age, gender, or race for that matter. Loving the body means to represent everyone, not just white women. So when it comes to these promotional ads, YouTube videos, whatever it may be for that matter. Women of color are beautiful and deserve to be seen more in this movement. Hopefully, this will happen very soon.


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