Body positivity is global celebration of all body types – no matter the size, shape or skin. It began as a movement in the sixties when people started campaigning for the equal treatment of people of all sizes, but since 2010 the sentiment gained traction when the movement started challenging the picture-perfect depiction of human bodies in the media, and the fashion industry included. Nowadays, brands such as Nike and Zara but even high fashion brands like Alexander McQueen, Fendi and Chanel are becoming more inclusive, featuring more diverse models on the runway and in ad campaigns.
For decades, the norm depicted in ad campaigns has been the tiny-waisted, toned-physique, light-skinned body type. But if you look at the surveys, between 62 - 85% of people surveyed feel that they don't match mainstream beauty standards. They feel too heavy, too thin, too dark or too light. If that many people don't recognise themselves in ad campaigns, then the question is how true and realistic our beauty standards are – and if maybe it's time to change the way we look at our body.
Global body norms lead to unhappiness. From the people surveyed, 74% has confessed to being unhappy with their body image in some way. 63% of the surveyed feel overweight, while overall, 23% of the surveyed feel shame over their body image. And this often results in dangerous diet choices, extreme workout regimes and in some cases, plastic surgery to alter look – all just to fit into the norm of mainstream beauty standards. So our beauty standards are not only unrealistic, they also have a negative impact on our society. It leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and toxic mindset, that can ultimately result in eating disorders, an abnormal obsession for the way we look and and a declining mental health.
For a couple of years now, fashion brands have jumped on the bandwagon of being more inclusive by selecting more diverse models for ad campaigns and granted, body diversity is higher than ever before. But the question is if this will still be the case once a new society standard is at challenge. Will body inclusivity blow over like it was just a trend wave? Or will it stand the test of time? We won't know until it happens. As we view the coming years as a critical point, this is the time to start speaking out about body positivity. And to do all that we can together to ensure a more diverse, healthier and more positive fashion industry.
Moreover, we need to change our focus. For decades, we have been wired to objectify the human physique – in the media, in ad campaigns and especially in fashion. We've created a world where it's important to look a certain way in order to feel good about ourselves. But instead of looking at our appearances, we need to rewire our society to feel comfortable in our own skin, to love our body and to put focus on our overall physical and mental health. Happiness can come from many things and doesn't just have to come from achieving a picture perfect body.
We're not only looking at fashion brands, agencies and other people in key positions to do the right thing. As with everything, it all starts with ourselves. So we too have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves – are we doing enough to change in society? As a magazine, Currant is in the position to select submissions based on concept, photography, story and style. But in this, we will always fight for showcasing diversity. We want to be inclusive to all talents, no matter the skin tone, shape, size or look of your body. We too want to do what we can, to contribute to a better tomorrow.