When I was about five years old, I looked around at the other little girls in dance class and decided my thighs were fat. This early negative body image is quite common for many Americans. According to a study by the NYC Girls’ Project, 80% of ten year old girls have a fear of becoming fat. By middle school, 40-70% of girls are displeased with two or more parts of their body. Body positivity hits a mega low between the ages of 12 and 15. Another study by the National Eating Disorder Association states that, “Subclinical eating disordered behaviors (including binge eating, purging, laxative abuse and fasting for weight loss) are nearly as common among males as they are among females”. The #bopo movement is meant to slash through mainstream society’s severely twisted definition of what our bodies are allowed to look like.
What the hell is #bopo?! This hashtag comes from the Body Positive Movement. Body Positivity is the radical notion that all bodies are good bodies just as they are. It is a movement that speaks out against the predominately white, dramatically thin and toned body type we see in ads that only truly represents about 5% of our nation. This #bopo movement gained momentum with the public’s outrage at a 2014 Victoria’s Secret campaign called “The Perfect Body.” The ad pictured several long limbed, impossibly thin, and large busted women wearing different bra types with the words “The Perfect Body” pasted over them. After the initial outrage, VS defended themselves by saying the ad was supposed to be a “play on words” as to show their new Body bra line as “perfect fit, perfect comfort, and perfectly soft”. They never apologized for the ad rather they changed the wording of the campaign to read “A body for everybody” while maintaining the same models.
In more recent years, the media is finally starting to recognize that women are fed up with seeing predominately white, ridiculously thin women with perfect breasts represent the American woman. In 2015 Plus Size Model Tess Holliday was on the cover of People magazine. Lena Dunham openly showed her curvy naked body on the set of Girls while also speaking out against photo shopping on her social media accounts. #Healthyisthenewskinny (originally a Body Positive Blog started by Katie H. Willcox in 2011) gained quite a bit of momentum in 2015 and 2016 and now has a reach of over 320k. In the past year we witnessed a major increase of magazine cover star diversity. Fashionista found in 2016, “…that 52 of 147 covers — or 35.3 % — starred people of color, as compared to 2015's 19.8 %. That's a 15.5 % rise.” However, sadly, almost none of these covers featured women of color with a dress size 10 or higher. We still have a long way to go.
What can you do to increase awareness of this movement while simultaneously bettering your own personal Body Positivity? You can start by talking to your friends and family about the movement. Most people on social media don’t have a clue this movement exists. Delete profiles who feature users who are constantly talking about loosing weight or posting photos that make you feel uncomfortable about your body. Start following users such as @___halle__, @healthyisthenewskinny, @bodyposipanda, @sassy_late, and @bodypositivememes who promote the #bopo movement. Joining the #bopo community is one of the many ways you can focus your time and effort on self care. I’m not saying it’s an easy fix. In my experience, learning to love my body has taken many many years and a shit ton of work. Even after years of recovery I still have some tough body image days. However, joining the #bopo movement has given an enormous boost to my self-love as well as my happiness practice!