The mid 2010’s saw the endorsement of larger-bodied women. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” which sampled “Baby Got Back,” was hailed as a socially disruptive, body positive anthem in 2014.
“I’m bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that,” said Meghan Trainor that same year in her song “All About That Bass.”
While these songs and artists were praised for their unique celebrations of “more realistically proportioned” women, they present a concerning trend. Often in media, accepting one body type can mean largely invalidating another.
Pushing towards acceptance of larger people who don’t fit into the slim standards of pop-culture beauty is not a bad thing. On the contrary, accepting people of larger size is a necessary cultural recognition of the irrevocable harm such narrow-minded media can inflict on body-image and self-esteem.
However, many artists criticize one body type – skinniness – to display their size acceptance, which presents a problem.
Fat-shaming is more than body-shaming; it has the means to become institutionalized discrimination.
People in media have been altered to an unrealistic standard of beauty, which has presented a health crisis for young women internationally who feel unfit in comparison. Psychology Today reports a shocking 79 percent of American women are unhappy with their appearance.
Not everyone, not even a majority of people, adheres to conventional beauty standards. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in 2014, one in three adults were considered to be overweight, or at a weight “higher than what is considered as a normal weight adjusted for height.”
But wanting to be thin is not inherently a bad thing – being thin even less so. As long as thinness is achieved by healthy means and does not promote a detrimental relationship with food, there’s no harm in being skinny.
And yet, those that pursue the thin ideal are criticized indirectly because of the media trend of body acceptance.
In wholly embracing all body types, with the exception of the conventional, we replace one constricting beauty standard with another. To deny the outlier is to miss the entire point of the body-positivity movement.
Body positivity is not about picking and choosing who has a right to feel comfortable in their own skin, but rather about promoting confidence and autonomy.
Size acceptance is not meant to provoke a war between the old standard of beauty and the new one. It’s to ensure that everyone, big or small, can find happiness in themselves.