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‘Body Positive’ | It’s More Than A Movement, It’s A Revolution

By Brittany Smith on August 9th 2017

For just over a century now, editors-at-large have decided upon and transcribed acceptable standards of beauty. Ranging from the classic Audrey Hepburn to the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe, the 90’s supermodels of Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell to the lanky and androgynous faces, we have been spoonfed what the ideal body type should be and what beautiful should look like. As the populace continues to embrace and demand diversity, the Body Positive movement is more than just a fad – it’s here to stay.


The #ImNoAngel, #CurvesBeReal and #EffYourBeautyStandards hashtags are just a sampling of the recent campaigns that are unabashedly showing the masses what we’ve been missing; there is beauty in every age and all shapes, sizes, and skin pigmentations. Contrary to many labels that refuse to dress anything larger than a size 12, their mission is inclusion as opposed to exclusivity. Simply put, everyone deserves to feel like a million bucks. This movement has already begun to transform the culture of advertising and will definitely impact the future genres of portraiture.

With the majority of today’s women wearing a size 12 or larger, it is staggering that the fashion industry has been so lethargic to adapt, almost digging their heels in the sand at the end of a round of tug-o-war. They have been reticent with this deviation and somewhat blatant with their disregard by refusing to create anything other than their sample sizes, which is ironic because some of their decisions began to set these cultural shifts in motion nearly two decades ago when they began opting for the more familiar faces of celebrities as well as reality faces-of-the-moment to replace the esteemed fashion models on their covers. They also chose Kate Moss, a waif in comparison to the curves of the 90’s supermodel generation, who dominated the industry and changed the game entirely.

The Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign was the first of its kind during this mass exodus from the establishment, making the viewer feel something deep within for the first time in a long time and sparking a real conversation. For decades, Lane Bryant has been renowned for their plus-size line and has transformed their advertising to an in-your-face spectacle with the #This Body series. Meanwhile Marina Rinaldi maintains their tried and true classic approach.

“It seems strange to me that while the rest of the world is desperate for fashion to embrace broader definitions of physical beauty, some of our most famous fashion brands appear to be travelling in the opposite — and, in my opinion, unwise — direction,”

– British Vogue EIC Alexandra Shulman in response to Ashley Graham cover.

Ashley Graham took the world by storm while rocking the cover of the 2016 SI Swimsuit edition. She has since appeared in numerous campaigns, and audaciously strutted the catwalk in her very own Elle lingerie collection during fashion week. While she has been met with some pushback including some major designers not wanting to dress her along the way, Ashley is helping redefine what it is to be beautiful, one magazine cover at a time.

SI 2016 Swimsuit Edition, February 2016.

Slowly but surely, the available options for women of all sizes are being unveiled. Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung are some of the few designers realizing the relevance of this market, offering designer wear to women everywhere. With a multi-billion dollar industry at stake, the plus sized market is seemingly untapped and its potential is just now being realized. Whether the established fashion labels choose to diversify their product or allow other companies to step up and fill that void, specialization in any manner is a win-win for everyone. One thing is clear and that is that magazines and mass marketing companies everywhere are beginning to create ad imagery with everyone in mind, not just a small percentage of the population.

As with any major movement, it has been met with skepticism and backlash. The criticism is that it is enabling an unhealthy society with the “everyone deserves a trophy” mentality when in fact, the only goal is to provide what we have been missing and need more of – confidence. And it’s stunning.

Model Maytee Martinez of Wilhelmina, Miami. Hair and makeup by Auralis Flores. Styling by Garry Anthony.

In addition, the beauty industry is also adhering to the idea that the essence of beauty is not limited to size. Previously, it was next to impossible for a model to be featured if they were under 5’6″ and/or of a certain age unless they were famous. Cosmetics companies see the prospective possibilities by being more inclusive.

The overwhelming market is shifting with how they view themselves and refusing to be stockpiled in the “one size fits all” category. The future will cease to be limited by the either/or approach in regard to standard sizing and plus sizing. Fashion will no longer be restricted to having to make the choice of beautiful textiles over boring utilitarian garments that fit well. Instead there will be beautiful offerings from a multitude of designers and fashion houses. Periodicals may stick to their guns, but I hope that every once in awhile they make a conscious effort to include variety.

As body acceptance continues to grow, there is a demand for a market that shows women what they’ve been longing to see in themselves – they are beautiful and no longer defined by stereotypes. It is an exciting time to be a photographer during this empowering revolution and document a pivotal moment in someone’s life as they learn to love themselves as they are.

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Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Brittany Smith

    Ben, you do realize that this movement also includes women that are viewed on the side of being too thin and receive comments that they look like they need to eat a cheeseburger, right? 

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    • Ben Perrin

      Yeah, those people can be very unhealthy too. I’m certainly not saying thin people are healthy either. You are not ok as you are, you need to constantly keep working on yourself. Especially if you are at an unhealthy weight you need to acknowledge the reality of your situation and realise that you have a journey ahead of you if you want to get to a healthy lifestyle. Whilst in general it’s a good thing to not bully people and put them down we can’t start lying to people in order to not hurt their feelings. Give people a goal to work towards and help them achieve that goal. Don’t tell them that they are healthy when they aren’t.

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  2. Brittany Smith

    While this article focused on the inclusion of the plus market because a previous article was written about the banning unhealthy, underweight models in Paris, there is a direct misunderstanding: body positive is not a fat promotion or sloth acceptance movement. It is teaching women to love and nurture their bodies because there is a huge amount of negligence that comes along with doing otherwise. A photo does not come hand in hand with a women’s fitness and diet regimen or their health history. For those who are so vehemently against this, I can only encourage to not speak to your wives, daughters and sisters in this way and instead choose love. 

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    • Ben Perrin

      B.S. Love is not telling someone that they are perfect at any size, love will see someone’s faults and work with them to better themselves. Denying reality is not love, telling people they are perfect when they are headed towards an early grave is not love. You are promoting a lifestyle of abuse towards people’s bodies. Now, people can do whatever they want with their own bodies but I certainly won’t high five someone who doesn’t take care of themselves. Your version of love is killing people and costing mega bucks in health bills.

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  3. Photography Rogue

    Beauty as well as the truth for example, is singular. There is only one beauty, and it is neither skinny nor fat or whatever some might see fit. Your body is either beautiful and healthy or it is not. War against skinny is a nonsense like any other war. Promotion of fat is the same nonsense, it is just another war campaign. Anything called “body positive” is just a huge manipulative agenda using the lies to “set up a new truth”. But truth, again, is singular. You do not need no “positive” movement to see the truth or beauty. You just need one healthy eye and clear mind. Then you just look and see. No waste of words.

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  4. Ben Perrin

    Let’s call this campaign what it really is, laziness. You want to eat junk food and be applauded for it. Well no thanks, get your lazy butt off the couch and work on bettering yourself. You want to be fat? Fine, I really don’t care what you do, but you should not be patting yourself on the back for going to an early grave. Obesity has become a crisis in the western world. Stop lying to yourself and others and start eating healthier foods. Work towards a goal of bettering yourself. Cook for yourself as often as you can and use real foods, not just the pre-processed stuff. People in the media who keep pushing this agenda should be the most ashamed of themselves. Really, really poor article SLR Lounge.

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  5. Chris Morris

    Super skinny was wholly unattainable by the vast majority of people. I can see why that affected how people viewed themselves as media held that up as a ridiculous standard that could never be met by average people. Given today’s state of obesity, which is apparently attainable by over 60% of the population, particularly in North America, I’m not surprised that “body positivity” is something people want celebrated and normalized.

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  6. dimitris stilio

    So from unhealthy super skinny we will go to unhealthy obesity promoting images.

    Not a single body from the ones in the example image above is healthy. I wonder if this approach will result to self love or to the idea that once again is ideal to be unhealthy, just towards the other side now.

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