Do Body-Positive Blogs Really Promote Acceptance?

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— You’ve probably heard of pro-ana websites, the online communities where people with eating disorders swap dieting tips and post “thinspiration” images. Now there’s another type of website that’s purportedly the antidote to all that. In the past few years, people have started posting images of themselves on body-positive websites. The intention is to promote acceptance, but, as with most topics having to do with our bodies, the sites are still problematic.

Today Refinery29 ran an interesting article that takes a tour of these body-positive online communities. There are several sites that celebrate larger women specifically, such as Curve Appeal and Big And Better,” but one of the most popular, Stop Hating Your Body,” focuses on people of all sizes. Annie Segarra, 20, who started the blog in October 2010, says it now has more than 32,000 followers.

The posts, which are mainly from young women, each feature a self-portrait along with a message about her struggle to love her body. Most are full-length shots of the girls in bathing suits or underwear, but anything goes: In the photos the posters are nude, totally clothed, or showing only one body part. There are even some men baring their bellies. The accompanying stories are heartbreaking, and not just because it seems like every girl in America grows up hating her body. Some posters share intimate stories on topics including eating disorders, self-harm, and abuse. Every post ends with the phrase “BE BRAVE: JOIN THE REVOLUTION.”

It’s a hopeful message, and the girls say they’re becoming happier with themselves from reading other posts and seeing what the vast majority of women actually look like. But there’s also a concerning element. Most posts include the poster’s height, weight, and sizes, and experts say this sends mixed messages. From Refinery29:

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do you feel that way about what we do?