Once in a not so distant past, brands have been about selling the perfect life and advertising the perfect body. Yet there has been a massive shift since the 90s – when marketing trends were defined by flawless bodies and unattainable beauty ideals – in the way bodies are represented.

From terms like body acceptance and fat acceptance to body positivity and body liberation, the self-love revolution has become mainstream, and more inclusive marketing campaigns are raging.

But the body positivity movement still has a long way to go. Despite the great progress of bodies that are often marginalized, the path to body liberation has also created its own standard of beauty that is found to be very unattainable, making most people still feel negative about what they look like, and three-quarters of Americans believe the media continues to promote an unattainable beauty standard for women.

From terms like body acceptance and fat acceptance to body positivity and body liberation, the self-love revolution has become mainstream, and more inclusive marketing campaigns are raging.

Love the skin you are in

Most people associate the body positivity movement with the 2010s and the meteoric rise of social media and their hashtags. But the journey to self-love and body acceptance can be traced back to the sixties when the movement was first started and for bodies that have been historically marginalized (think fat bodies, black bodies, foreign bodies, disabled bodies). Historically rejected by Western society, it was these bodies that sparked an interest in ‘body liberation’, although the term #bodypositivity only emerged almost 50 years later.

As most movements do, body positivity has developed over the years. By defining it, body positivity is about viewing our bodies as perfectly acceptable and perfectly normal, regardless of shape, size or color. The concept of body neutrality adds an extra layer, encouraging people to focus on what their body does for them, how it makes them feel, rather than on how it works.

This sustained pursuit of acceptance and liberation of the whole body, of ‘loving the skin you are in’, is a message that many content creators have incorporated into their messages. And while the pursuit of body positivity has undoubtedly brought all kinds of marginalized people into the conversation, some of the defenders feel that the original message fell by the wayside as the movement became more commodified.

And while the pursuit of body positivity has undoubtedly brought all kinds of marginalized people into the conversation, some of the defenders feel that the original message fell by the wayside as the movement became more commodified.

Brands jump on the bandwagon

This commodification of the trend by content creators and corporations has monitored and politicized the positivity of the body, creating another standard of beauty that many underprivileged bodies find out of reach. Take a look at Dove, the first major brand that comes to mind when it comes to body positivity.

Their Be Real campaign, featuring real women and real bodies, has certainly done amazing things to increase the visibility of bodies that are often left out. But it is also accused of creating its own standard of beauty centered on female society, being “acceptably fat” – beautiful women with smaller waists, hourglass shapes and all under size 12.

There were, of course, a few exceptions. With LGBTQ +, disabled, fat and black bodies in their new spring campaign, Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, has gone beyond most brands to take a stand for inclusivity and empowerment. These values ​​are not only reflected in its advertising, but the company actively supports an inclusive corporate culture with employees from 130 countries.

As the positivity of the body continues to change and develop, brands need to be sincere in the way they decide to deal with the movement, to avoid being accused of promoting bodily freedom to make a profit.

It is this celebration of real people, reflected both externally and internally, that makes it possible for brands to connect with diverse customers. As the body’s positivity continues to change and evolve, brands need to be genuine in the way they handle movement, to avoid being accused of making a body liberation a profit – and today’s customers know exactly how to identify when a brand ‘loves’ the message of your body ”lacks authenticity.

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all

Body positivity is a good goal to combat, and federal governments as well as major social media have started catching the flag for different bodies. Knowing that an unhealthy body image affects well-being and mental health, these important players have adopted the values ​​of the movement to form laws and regulations that address these issues.

After youth groups and the country’s Ministry of Children and Family Affairs for years called for stricter measures for image processing, lawmakers in Norway have passed a law requiring creators of content to disclose when updating a photo or a filter added.

The law mainly applies to advertisers, but it also applies to influencers on social media, celebrities and other users who receive compensation or benefits related to posting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter. Other countries, including France and the United Kingdom, have adopted similar laws to protect their citizens from the harmful effects of unrealistic images and the unrealistic expectations for perfection they create.

Body positivity is a good goal to combat, and federal governments as well as major social media have started catching the flag for different bodies.

The heavy social media hitter Pinterest has also adopted body adoption with a new advertising policy banning all ads with weight loss language and imagery. The move makes Pinterest the only major platform to ban all weight loss ads, which is an extension of the platform’s earlier advertising policy that bans bodily harm and dangerous weight loss products or claims.

The power of positivity + authenticity

These new policies by governments like Norway and major social media platforms like Pinterest are signs of real, global change. And while the body positivity movement still has plenty of room for improvement, these are views that Gen. Z (people born between 1995-2010) are eager to accept.

This is a generation that is more likely to associate the word ‘body’ with positivity or neutrality instead of associating the word with a supermodel in a bikini, like the previous generation Gen Xers (born between 1965-1980 ).

So, rather than being performative, brands need to learn how to reach these leaders of the consumer market (Gen Z is currently 40% of all consumers) through values ​​such as inclusivity, diversity and authentic body liberation.

Gen Z sees itself differently, which means brands need to change how they want to represent themselves if they want this new generation of consumers to buy their products.

If brands want to continue to empower by offering all bodies, they need to do so in a genuine way.

Gen Zers are knowledgeable consumers who crave authenticity. If brands want to continue to empower by offering all bodies, they need to do so in a genuine way. Any attempt to influence these consumers with a faux body positivity fails for the ‘fake news’ it is.

Brands willing to support and celebrate Gen. Zers’ values ​​will win their loyalty and be rewarded by their business. Those who do not will be left behind in a market where consumers are forcing brands to take a stand on the issues that matter.



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