‘Body positivity’ is a social and cultural movement that promotes self-acceptance, self-love, and the celebration of all body types and appearances.
One of the key goals of body positivity is to combat the pervasive body shaming and unrealistic beauty ideals perpetuated by the media and fashion industries.
These industries have often portrayed a limited and narrow definition of beauty, which has led to negative self-esteem, body image issues, and even mental health problems among many individuals who don’t conform to these standards.
What celebrities are promoting body positivity?
While the origins of the body positivity movement date back to the 1960s, the term wasn’t commonly known until the rise of social media – and that’s when many celebrities started championing it.
Lizzo, Chrissy Teigen, Ashley Graham, Selena Gomez, Jameela Jamil, Jennifer Lawrence… just to name a few.
Oh, and who could forget when Dame Emma Thompson opened up in December 2022 to the Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham and said she’s struggled with body image issues since she was 14 and society is in desperate need of a “revolution” when it comes to “accepting ourselves”.
Of course, these celebs should be celebrated for shining a light on body positivity.
But there were some celebrities who advocated for body positivity long before it was a buzzword and also deserve to be applauded…
Kate Winslet has been subjected to unfair body-shaming for most of her career. But the Oscar-winner never let the critics win; in fact, she persevered and regularly spoke out about her negative experiences instead.
Some prime examples include, when Kate made headlines in 2003 for publicly criticising British GQ for modifying her body when she appeared on their cover.
“The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly I don’t desire to look like that,” Kate said at the time.
“I actually have a Polaroid that the photographer gave me on the day of the shoot… I can tell you they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third.”
In a 2015 episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Kate opened up about how she endeavours to teach her daughter Mia to be positive about her body; something Kate never experienced growing up.
“When I grew up, I never heard positive reinforcement about body image from any female in my life. I only heard negatives. That’s very damaging, because then you’re programmed as a young woman to immediately scrutinise yourself and how you look,” she said.
“I stand in front of the mirror and say to Mia, ‘We are so lucky we have a shape. We’re so lucky we’re curvy. We’re so lucky we’ve got good bums. And she’ll say, ‘Mommy, I know, thank God.’”
In February 2021, Kate told The Guardian, “In my 20s, people would talk about my weight a lot. And I would be called to comment on my physical self. Well, then I got this label of being ballsy and outspoken. No, I was just defending myself.”
In the October 2023 issue of Vogue, Kate said, “I was consistently told I was the wrong shape. I was consistently told I would have to settle for less.” When asked why she didn’t settle, she replied:
“Cause I wasn’t going to take that s**t from anyone.”
And most recently, in February 2024, the actress opened up to Porter Magazine about how “unpleasant” she felt right after the 1997 film Titanic came out.
“I felt like I had to look a certain way, or be a certain thing, and because media intrusion was so significant at that time, my life was quite unpleasant,” Kate candidly shared.
The 2001 song Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child became a body positivity anthem; the exact outcome Beyoncé wanted.
She revealed that she wrote the song as a response to her critics as well as to empower others grappling with body image issues.
“I remember when I started hearing people criticise me after I had put on some weight. I was 19. None of the sample clothes fit me. I was feeling a bit insecure from hearing some of the comments, and I woke up one day and refused to feel sorry for myself, so I wrote Bootylicious,” Beyoncé told Harper’s BAZAAR.
“It was the beginning of me using whatever life handed me and turning it into something empowering to other women and men who were struggling with the same thing,” she continued.
Early in her career, JLo was heavily criticised by both the entertainment and tabloid industries for her curvy figure.
But as she was taught to embrace and love her body from a young age, Jennifer said she was never troubled by the negative comments and certainly wasn’t going to change herself because of them.
“They didn’t bother me at all. But I got a lot of flak for it from people in the industry. They’d say, ‘You should lose a few pounds,’ or ‘You should do this or do that.’ It finally got to the point that I was like, ‘This is who I am. I’m shaped like this,’” she told InStyle in 2018.
“My mum and my grandmother were the ones who drilled into me, ‘This is how we are, and this is what’s beautiful.’
“My dad loved my mom’s body — all the men in our family loved the women’s bodies. Being curvy or not, being 6 feet tall was never a bad thing; it was actually something that was celebrated,” Jennifer continued.
However, Jen did say that she never meant to become an activist in terms of body positivity…
“Later on, when I brought that in front of the world, I wasn’t really trying to send a message. I was just being myself.”