OPINION

Have we forgotten the meaning of the term "body positive"?

Photo: Instagram @Louise.thompson

Body positivity was created to promote size-acceptance. A book about how to “shape” your body to what is socially acceptable is the antithesis of that, says Amy Jones

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By Amy Jones on

It was announced yesterday that Louise Thompson, one of Made in Chelsea’s longest running stars, is publishing a book. The book will apparently “take readers through her favourite 15-minute home workouts and the recipes she swears by to keep her feeling energised” – so, a diet and fitness book, basically – and aims to “to inspire readers to make lasting changes, break the cycle of self-destructive habits and build a strong body and positive mind to be proud of”.

The name of the book? Body Positive.

I can see where they’re going with this. The book apparently follows Thompson going from being "an anxiety-ridden party girl, battling with mental health and an unhealthy relationship with eating" to living a life which helps her feels positive about herself and her body. So they called it Body Positive. Makes sense, sure. But there is absolutely no way on this earth that the decision to call it this was made without knowing that it was borrowing from the body positivity movement, and the book is the absolute antithesis of what body positivity is supposed to be about.

The actual intention of body positivity is not "any action that makes you feel positive about your body"

As plus-size fashion blogger and writer Stephanie Yeboah said on Twitter, “Body positivity is/was a movement that was created to celebrate bodies that were seen as outside of what is conventionally attractive. More specifically: fat bodies. Body Positivity is born from the fat acceptance movement, fat acceptance is specifically political and centered on equal rights, representation, and treatment for fat people.

“Eventually, as body positivity picked up steam and took on a secondary messaging that ‘all bodies are beautiful’. The actual intention of body positivity is not ‘any action that makes you feel positive about your body’. The intention is size acceptance.”

If Thompson’s book was focused around treating your body well and loving it no matter its size, then perhaps it’d be easier to see its place in the body positivity discussion

If Thompson’s book was focused around treating your body well and loving it no matter its size, then perhaps it’d be easier to see its place in the body positivity discussion. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case: Thompson specifically says that her book will show readers how to “shape a strong body” in order to “build confidence from the inside-out”. If Thompson’s book was focused around treating your body well and loving it no matter its size, then perhaps it’d be easier to see its place in the body positivity discussion. As Yeboah continues, “It’s just another way for people to make money off the marginalised. People who fall within what society considers beautiful have hijacked yet another movement and have moulded it to fit their diet industry agenda.”

If Thompson has written about the way she forged a positive relationship with her own body, good for her. Some people will find it really helpful and I’m truly glad that she feels at peace with her own body, now. But she is and always has been a slim, pretty, white woman, the absolute pinnacle of what society deems it acceptable for a body to be, and her book is publicising itself using a movement which was created to rally against the harmful standards that a) she benefits from and b) her book is actively contributing to. Thousands of women still feel the unhappiness she says she felt about her body, but use body positivity to try and accept rather than change themselves. Taking that movement away from them in order to sell a few more copies of a book is cruel – and really, it’s anything but positive.

@jimsyjampots

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Photo: Instagram @Louise.thompson
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