it’s far from the only company to do it.

What is Body Positivity?

The concept of body positivity – being accepting and against the marginalization of all bodies – should come to us instinctively. Most of us believe in one of the most basic tenets of human decency: that all people should be treated equally regardless of color, race, gender, religion, etc. 

Still, many people just don’t get the memo about the fact that weight and appearance should be a part of that too. This isn’t a new thing: larger bodies have been discriminated against for decades. Body positivity was developed as a social justice movement by black, fat, queer groups and the fat acceptance movement in the 1960s as a way to garner awareness of and end the marginalization of people in all bodies.

Body positivity today focuses mostly on challenging our perception of the typical beauty standard for women (although there is a body positive movement for men) – white, thin, symmetrical, privileged. In other words, that everyone has value, everybody’s body is worthy, even if it’s not conventionally ‘attractive.’

Body positivity wasn’t created as to sell diets or clothes, get ‘likes,’ or attract people to your bikini shots. But social media is full of posts by influencers – RDs included, unfortunately – that are taking body positivity and twisting it to promote themselves.

I highly doubt the people who spearheaded body positivity had conventionally attractive, thin, or muscled girls in bikinis talking about cheat days, or showing their butt in workout gear in mind when they thought up the concept. 

The danger of body positivity being taken out of context, is that the marginalized people who it was designed to help, get run over by others who aren’t marginalized at all.

In other words, co-opting body positivity just marginalizes the marginalized…again.

What’s obvious is that body positivity is now being used as a sales pitch – most recently by the MLM Beachbody.

Beachbody BODi and body positivity

Beachbody BODi is the new name for Beachbody, and the company is now focusing on ‘body positivity’ and ‘health esteem,’ which they define as something like, ‘loving yourself enough to take care of yourself.’

If a fat person doesn’t exercise, then they don’t love themselves? Is ‘health esteem’ a take of ‘self esteem,’ in that if you don’t exercise and take care of yourself in the way that Beachbody says you should, then you have a low opinion of yourself?

Someone needs to give Beachbody a lesson on the social determinants of health. Now.

We don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day. Here’s why.

Body positivity isn’t about blaming people for their weight. It’s not about ordering people to love themselves or else. That’s all just more of the same toxic positivity that Beachbody and other MLMs are known for.

The new BODi and health esteem focus is probably because someone high up in the company realized that people were starting to catch on to the fact that Beachbody has been extremely toxic in its content and its choice of coaches. Beachbody’s earnings have been plummeting.

beachbody body positivity
Seen at Beachbody’s Leadership Retreat. What’s wrong with this picture?
beachbody health esteem
Where it always feels good to be you….if you look like the women in the photos, that is

Beachbody’s most prominent coaches are overwhelmingly thin and white, with very few POC and even fewer (if any) people in larger bodies. Most, if not all, of their content is focused on weight loss.

The 2B Mindset program with dietitian Ilana Muhlstein seems to be the only Beachbody program that makes an attempt at being focused on a ‘non-diet’ approach, but is not even close to that. How can it be, when Muhlstein encourages tracking and weighing, posts food-shaming social media content, and hosts DietBets.

In fact, several Beachbody Super Trainers and coaches are involved in Diet Bets.

Losing weight for money isn’t a ‘non-diet’ approach. It doesn’t equate with body positivity – it’s a way for people to lose as much weight as possible in order to win a prize.

Read my updated review of Beachbody and Beachbody Super Trainers.

Look! You can even do a BODi challenge to earn money and a free t-shirt by posting your ‘transformation results!’

beachbody health esteem

How in the world is this body positive and fostering a healthy relationship with our bodies and with exercise?

It isn’t! It’s perpetuating our preoccupation with appearance and the mistaken belief that our health is directly linked to the way we look.

Beachbody BODi trainers don’t get it

Beachbody changing its tune is going to be a tough transition for the company, because quite simply, many people just don’t seem to believe that the BODi name change and focus on #healthesteem is really authentic.

In fact, Super Trainer Autumn Calabrese was recently captured on one of her Instagram Lives saying, and I quote, “the body positivity movement is bulls*it! It’s only body positive to people who aren’t in shape.”

Wow. Watch her rant here:

She then backtracked this week after Beachbody BODi was announced, saying she believes we should ’embrace body positivity,’ but that she’s just ‘tired of people saying they’re body positive when they aren’t.’

Oh hey, gaslighting:

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

And, one of her programs within Beachbody is called ’80 Day Obsession.’

health esteem

The CEO of Beachbody, Carl Daikler, hasn’t as of now apologized or even acknowledged Beachbody’s role in perpetuating unhealthy stereotypes around food and bodies. This entire BODi thing seems to be nothing but a marketing tool to slap some lipstick on a pig.

If the behaviour of the trainers and coaches doesn’t change, and nobody within the company can admit culpability for being part of the company’s diet culture problem, then what we have is the same Beachbody….just under a different name.

Influencers and Body Positivity

Like cultural appropriation, these influencers are appropriating the term to further their own agenda without respecting its origins. And the messed up part is that while cultural appropriation is frowned upon, body positivity appropriation is celebrated. 

When a thin, privileged person posts a ‘body positive’ video of herself in a thong bathing suit and talks about how her ‘fat jiggles,’ she gets 3000 likes. Because she’s so ‘brave and real!’

It’s all just a triggering, passive aggressive stab in the back of body positivity. And worst of all, it steals body positivity from the very people it was created to help. I think that if you post photos of your white, privileged, conventionally attractive body in a bikini while talking about your ‘fat’ and your ‘body positivity,’ you, dear, are part of the problem.

Beachbody BODi
In my search of the #bodypositive hashtag, far too many shots like this popped up. WTF. Make it stop.
beachbody BODi review
Tell me this photo and caption (‘fatrolls,’ indeed) by Bella Hadid’s ‘body positive model’ cousin doesn’t make you want to punch something.

I’m fully aware that for phrases like body-positivity, over time, there can be a metamorphosis of meaning. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But in this case, it is: we’ve cheapened it into a marketing tactic. 

Because #healthesteem! Hey Beachbody, we aren’t falling for it.

Beauty and Fashion’s Take on Body Positivity

The beauty and fashion industry is also on the hook for the appropriation of body positivity. 

While it’s nice that companies like Dove and Lululemon are using larger sized models in their campaigns, I still think there’s a dark side to it all. Meaning, they’re not doing it because they want to help de-marginalize certain bodies: they’re doing it to earn money. 

Many clothing companies who use larger women in their ads still use conventionally attractive models. Knix has a lot of really gorgeous, not-that-fat models who show their stretch marks, but okay, really? Is that supposed to be groundbreaking? 

Aerie has gone all out on their ‘real’ campaign, seriously, all out….with genuine unretouched models who have ‘fat bulges’ and ‘loose skin’ but are still, well, come on. See for yourself.

BODi beachbody
Here are the AerieReal ambassadors! Celebrities (not including Emma Roberts, who has been a part of the campaign) who are conventionally attractive. Try again, Aerie.
health esteem
She looks like a model to me!
health esteem
It’s a model. With the same SKIN FOLDS we all have. If she didn’t have these, she’d be extremely underweight.
health esteem
I see celebrity models. What about this is body positive and relatable?

So when young girls look at the ‘real’ Aerie photos, they’re seeing ‘real,’ average girls?

What? Uh, no. These girls are models.

In Aerie’s defence, the company offers sizing up to a 24, and their campaign does feature non-models in some of their social posts. One has an ostomy, another has an insulin pump, and one has a prosthetic leg. So the company appears to be getting it. 

But the majority are not.

There are some awesome body-positive retailers out there who use models who are diverse in color, size, age, and appearance and have a wide range of sizes.  

Even though most of them use the ‘plus-size’ designation, which, WHY do fat people need their own section….but anyhow. 

Some of my faves are: 

Superfit Hero, the brand with the kick-ass site image below:

BODi beachbody

Target

Asos

Girlfriend Collective

I can imagine that for those people who fall under the umbrella of the original meaning, our current usage of the term ‘body positivity’ is like someone shaking their hand, then turning around and stabbing them in the back. Because fat shaming, fat phobia, and weight discrimination still exist in so many forms, and none of the ‘body positive’ influencers or companies that I’m referring to (there are many more who are actually using the term for good) are doing anything for the cause. They’re just making things worse. 

Companies who talk the talk should walk the walk. Thanks, Victoria’s Secret, but your bras aren’t for EVERY BODY. And making clothes in sizes that go beyond a 32 DDD and XXL would be a step in the right direction.

beachbody BODi

If someone who is conventionally attractive wants to post a million bikini shots of themselves on social media and put #bodypositive in the caption, they should probably think about where they’re coming from.

On second thought, we all need to think about where we’re coming from in terms of using phrases like body positivity. Do you really know the meaning of the term? Where it came from? What its real meaning is?

It’s essential that we stop stealing meaning from terms like body positivity, and that we recognize and honor their origins. To not do that hurts the people who they were made for.