A Feminist Movement: Why body positivity is necessary for equality

Ella Litchfield, Photo Manager

In the battle of equality, body positivity has assisted feminism in the fight to remove the male gaze that perpetuates an unrealistic beauty standard. For so long, society has looked down on certain body types and created many different “ideal” shapes for women to work towards. 

This gives an opportunity to highlight the male gaze and make women question their importance based solely on their appearance. The way a woman looks does not decrease or increase her value and body shaming distracts from a mission of equality for female activists. This can only push women to serve men in their system of oppression.

Acceptance of all bodies starts with representation and normalizing certain images which are not always represented in media and places of influence. 

For years, the media has portrayed women as objects to be judged, prized or disrespected. Even women who meet the standards of societal acceptance can feel degraded by the presentation of their body. Plus size model, Jennie Runk, spoke on the battle of being a feminist in the modeling industry and what she has learned in an interview with the Huffington Post, a popular news outlet.

Runk explains, “It was a struggle for me to be in an industry that people blame feminist issues on. There’s a very narrow example of what the perfect woman is. But I’ve got this great career, I love my job, and it’s a good living…The biggest thing for women to keep in mind is you can’t ever let someone define beauty for you. Look in the mirror and say that this is my definition of perfection.” Runk ends her statement with a message of body positivity, realizing that it goes hand in hand with feminism. 

These two ideas are almost intertwined, in this current activism, one cannot exist without the other. Only furthering the importance and purpose of body positivity as a removal of toxic sexism by uplifting women. 

Olivia Reddish, another senior at PV, identifies the value of this message and explains it as crucial for girls her age. “At this time in my life it is important to remain driven and focused on the issues which I feel are important for our society to reflect on. My passion for body positivity remains a pivotal component in my identity as a feminist. In order to reach a large portion of the feminist movement we need to recognize and uplift all women and their bodies that are so often degraded and insulted by the media.”

To ignore body positivity is to ignore the media which has a large effect on society. Those obsessed with the social media display of female bodies would be left behind in a self-obsessed void, distracting from more detrimental issues. If activists are caught up in their image then who will fight to disband the patriarchy, remove the wage gap and speak for those victims to a sexist company and sexual harassment.

Women need to work and lift each other up so that they can work towards a society of equality between sexes instead of a society founded on the stereotypical male gaze. Senior, Erica Heiselman, agrees with this statement, “I believe that body positivity is necessary because I think everyone should feel comfortable and confident in their own bodies.” Heiselman explains, “I think that once everyone can agree to accept people for the way that they are, there will be more energy put into creating equality within our society.”

The factors of feminism work towards making female voices louder to speak their mind and show their worth beyond image. With more important issues of equality at stake, feminists can no longer be bothered with the male gaze and must remove it to make room for themselves.