Body positivity and body confidence are the same thing, right? They’re not. The terms are often confused and mingled together. Honestly, there’s some overlap, but they’re still quite different. But If you don’t know the difference then it is not your fault. Many diet and beauty brands have muddled up the terms. So, what’s the difference anyway and why does it matter?
So, let’s go back a little and have a mini story time. Body positivity is rooted in the fat acceptance movement. This movement started in the 60s and later expanded into the body positive movement. Fat acceptance is all about treating fat bodies with respect and eliminating fat-shaming. It’s also about acceptance and reclaiming the word “fat” as a neutral descriptive word. Advocates for this movement challenge fat phobia in society and people’s own internalised fat phobia.
More recently the body positivity movement was born. This movement carries on the beliefs of the fat acceptance movement but also advocates the acceptance of all bodies no matter the size, shape, or appearance. The goal of the movement is to address, and challenge unrealistic beauty standards constructed by society. (Epic, right?) This movement encourages the acceptance, acknowledgment, rights, and self-worth of marginalised bodies in society.
Body confidence differs from body positivity as it’s about a person’s own acceptance of their body. The physical appearance of the body is not important. It is all about the person’s own body image and how they feel about their body. Our feelings about our bodies can be positive, neutral, or negative. The way we feel about ourselves can be influenced by external factors. Body confidence makes us challenge negative external influences so we can start to accept and perhaps even love our bodies. The goal of the body confidence movement is to address unrealistic beauty standards and to build people’s confidence.
So, why does it all matter?
Body confidence is about an individual’s acceptance of themselves whereas body positivity is about acceptance of marginalised bodies in society. However, there is an overlap as body acceptance, self-love, and self-worth all take place in both movements.
Confusing the terms is an issue as this waters down the messages from both movements. The terms are often hijacked by the beauty and diet industry. It’s laughable to hear of diet businesses calling themselves “body positive” or beauty brands telling you that their products will give you “body confidence”. They literally do the opposite of those things and aren’t diets based on being anti-fat? (Ugh, the diet industry sucks!).
Beauty brands that show slim yet not “model thin” women in their campaigns often claim to be body positive yet are often far off the mark of really showing a diverse selection of body types. When brands do make the effort to show marginalised body types, they often receive a huge backlash from the public (damn it society, can’t you just be cool?). Remember when Nike released a plus size mannequin wearing sportswear and the world freaked out? Fat-phobia is real. So, it’s no wonder that people feel the need to change their bodies.
Wow, my mind is blown!
So, how can you take part in this movement. Well… stop using the word “fat” as an insult. Fat is a neutral adjective. Treat fat bodies with respect. Speak up when someone insults a marginalized body (disabled, trans, fat, etc). Work on your own self-image. The truth is that the more love you feel for your own body, the more acceptance and love you can show to others.