Body Confident vs. Body Positive...Do You Know the Difference?

There is no question that there is a movement growing. A movement where women are waking up to the lies that diet culture has spun to them for decades and learning to find peace with their bodies as they are now. As with any movement, corporate America has latched onto the idea of body positivity and run with it, oftentimes missing the mark and skewing the actual message of the movement. With that, droves of instagrammers have picked up the term body positivity, or #bopo, and merged it with body confidence. I’m here to show you why this is harmful and help you unravel the two.

To set the record straight, I am still learning and growing with everyone else, and I have absolutely crossed the terms before. On the same note, if you disagree with anything I say in this post, please start a conversation with me! I want to learn.

Body Positive

Body positivity is the social movement that believes ALL bodies are good bodies. This is an inclusive movement that embraces bodies of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, disabilities, and orientations. The body positive movement pushes for representation of a diverse range of body types throughout society, and believes that beauty is a social construct that should not determine one’s worthiness of self-love or respect. Diet culture and weight loss are fervently rejected in the body positive movement.

Body positivity is rooted in the fat acceptance movement where individuals have been working since the 1960s to change the anti-fat bias deeply rooted in our culture while reclaiming descriptive terms such as “fat,” “obese,” and “plus-size” to be just that – descriptive terms that do not have any sort of negative connotation.

Body Confident

Body confidence, on the other hand, refers to an individual’s ability to feel confident in his or her body. A body confident person has a positive body image and struts his or her stuff with conviction.

A person can be body positive and body confident at any size and at the same time. However, just because someone is body confident doesn’t mean they are also body positive, and vice versa.  Someone can be confident in their body but not hold the belief that ALL bodies are good bodies. A person can also be a self-conscious body positive activist.

I know, it’s a little wordy and confusing, but bear with me.

So, what’s the problem?

An individual or brand claiming to be body positive and promoting weight loss is likely innocently confused, or worse, twisting the message to wiggle their way into a cultural movement. This is where body positive activists get rightfully upset. Many in the BoPo community feel that those promoting body confidence on the individual level and calling it #BoPo are hijacking their societal level movement. Even worse, those promoting weight loss diets, plans, apps, or programs and using #BoPo are in direct conflict with what the movement is all about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for promoting body confidence (you know I’m all about that body love!). I do, however, believe that it is important to distinguish the difference between body confidence and body positivity in order to properly honor the movement that is currently on fire in our society.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook/Instagram.

Kate Telge