Body positivity is a movement created by Black women to celebrate and advocate for marginalized bodies. (Learn more on this history from Briana Dominici’s article, “The Black History of the Body Positive Movement”) Over time, the term has reached a broader audience, which has simultaneously been a great source of healing for many while also diluting the original intent. At BPFA, we acknowledge that “Body Positivity” encompases a spectrum of meaning to each individual and that each individual’s personal privilege intersects and informs how they interact with the spectrum.
If you are here at our website scoping out courses, that tells us that you are interested in making the fitness industry a more inclusive and accessible place. We see BPFA’s role as being your empathetic guide to making your programming more welcoming to all bodies. If these are your first steps towards body positivity/body neutrality/fat liberation, you are welcome here, and our Onramp to Inclusive Fitness Practices Course will be an excellent primer for you. If you have been involved in this work for a while, some of the material here may be familiar, but we hope the action-oriented coaching tips we provide, along with our network of Fit2.0Pros, will be useful to you as well. If you are interested in diving further into this work with exceptional folks putting out great content, check out Fitness 4 All Bodies, Decolonizing Fitness, The Body Is Not an Apology, and The Fat Lip podcast, just to name a few!
So wherever you are currently on the spectrum of body positivity, BPFA is here to help you grow and point you towards the amazing community of people already out there doing this important work in the fitness industry. Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.
“Decolonizing Fitness is not a gym, but an incredible educational resource for coaches, trainers, studio owners, and anyone who is interested in unlearning toxic fitness culture. Decolonizing Fitness as a practice is about providing a supportive environment to individuals who have historically not felt welcomed in fitness spaces i.e. people in larger bodies, people with disabilities, people with chronic pain, people over the age of 65 and people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
“Nonnormative Body Club is a Philadelphia-based project with a goal to create accessible fitness spaces for those of us whose bodies and identities rebel against normative definitions of beauty and health. Nonnormative Body Club offers personal training, group fitness, and wellness workshops on a sliding scale.”
My body is a good body, regardless of its size (or race, colour, weight, ability, disability or sexuality and gender expression) or how it looks and shows up in this world. I appreciate my body as it is. I am worthy of all of the good things life has to offer as I am, in this body (health, sex, love, respect, career advancement, access to clothes, access to services, visibility, joy etc.).
Body positivity was started by Black women. While body positivity is not embraced by everyone, body positivity is for everyone — it can be a useful concept for anyone with a body.
Body positivity was created by fat people but is not just for fat people. While fat acceptance is central to body positivity, body positivity is intended for all marginalized bodies (bodies with disabilities, dark-skinned bodies, scarred bodies, bodies with vitiligo, bodies fighting disordered eating, gender non-conforming bodies etc.).
#Bopo is interrelated to other social justice issues. E.g. dismantling the patriarchy is about justice for all bodies (especially female-identifying ones).
Within body positivity I’d include conversations around colorism, Black hair styles and textures.
Being content and finding peace with your body is body positivity.
Can body positivity include thin people? I think so. Thin people have bodies, and some people live at the intersection of body marginalization (thin and disabled). But body positivity wasn’t meant for thin people. Thin people still benefit from thin privilege.
Body positivity is for all bodies (including thin ones), while fat acceptance has fat people as its focus (I don’t use fat in a derogatory way here. It is what many people in this size group would prefer to be called instead of inaccurate medicalized words like “obese” or “overweight”).
Body positivity says that your body is inherently good and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your body. Do you use a CPAP machine when you sleep? Do you take medication? Do you live with chronic illness? Lipodema? Can you find your size clothing at the store? Do you struggle with holding the asanas in yoga? The answers to these questions don’t really matter because your body is inherently good regardless.
Your lighter body isn’t any better than your heavier body. And no matter where you are on your fitness journey, your body is good.
Some people say weight loss is not compatible with body positivity. Or that body positivity verges on letting yourself go. I think wanting to change your body or improve the experience of living in your body is reconcilable with body positivity. Losing weight, gaining weight, building strength and lean muscle and endurance etc. — improving your body or changing your body does not affect the inherent value of your body. It ought not affect your relationship to your body. It’s ok to want to live more comfortably in your body. Of course, being happy just the way you are is also ok and is also body positivity.
Body positivity to me says there is nothing wrong with my body *and* I want my body to be at it’s best. So I choose food and movement in celebration of my good, nothing-wrong-with-it body.
I’m a writer, vlogger and fitness professional based in Toronto. My educational background is in philosophy, political science and law (LL.B., B.C.L). I’m bilingual in English and French, and I’ve lived in Ottawa and Montreal.
I love writing about food, body positivity, law, race and faith/spirituality.
I’m a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and aquatics instructor and a licensed Zumba, Aqua Zumba and Strong Nation instructor. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Body Positive Fitness Alliance.