On the surface you may think the body positivity movement is about accepting yourself, being ok with your size or shape, promoting diversity in media campaigns, and rejecting body-shaming.
But we live in a cultural moment that seeks to breed division and hate in many areas of life. Whether you realize it or not, the culture pressures you to adopt a mentality of victimization. But division, hate, and victimhood are all antithetical to a biblical worldview, so how should Christians approach the body positivity movement?
1. All people – no matter your size, shape, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, or family background – should be treated equally and with the respect and dignity that comes from being created in the image of God. The foundational truth that men and women are made in the imago Dei is essential to moral living and the ethical treatment of others (Genesis 1:26-28).
2. Who we are, where we’re from, what we possess, what we lack, and even what time in history we live are all governed by the gracious, sovereign hand of God for his glory and the good of his children (Acts 17:24-27).
3. Division ceases in the family of God. Only through Christ’s perfect life and atoning death can the ultimate division between sinful humans and a holy God be reconciled. Only in the family of God, which extends from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9) will there be no dividing line between Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female – or any other societal division – for all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).
Though somewhat different (but still very similar) movements, body positivity has political roots in fat acceptance.“Fat acceptance, which started in the 1960s as National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), has been around through different waves and forms for about 50 years. Currently, fat acceptance is a social justice movement aiming to make body culture more inclusive and diverse, in all its forms.” Source
“NAAFA was groundbreaking in addressing weight bias and discrimination against fat people as a civil rights issue.”…A collective of women in Los Angeles came together and formed the Fat Underground. Their form of activism was more confrontational than NAAFA’s, informed by second wave feminists and gay activism of the 1970s. (Indeed, many of its members were radical feminists and lesbians.)” Source
“Body positivity is a social justice movement. It’s about centering the voices of marginalized individuals and acknowledging the oppression they experience in our society…First and foremost, body positivity is NEVER EVER about loving your body after a “weight loss journey.” Body positive and intentional weight loss just do not go together.” Source
“Obesity is linked to diabetes and heart disease, and many advocates of the body positivity movement often criticize this research.” Source
“Despite the irrefutable facts, fat activists vehemently discourage weight loss and any effort to increase wellness. They not only demand representation but want to silence all forms of dissent.” Source
Some claim body positivity doesn’t go far enough and advocate for fat acceptance. While there are slight differences, it is really their foundation that matters. Both arise from a worldview that adopts division, victimhood, identity markers, and a framework that views society through the lens of oppressed vs oppressor. This worldview comes from Critical Theory, an unbiblical philosophy diametrically opposed to the gospel, currently ripping the country – and the church – apart.
I say that because this movement communicates that your health is inconsequential and pits your mental and physical well-being against each other. Body positivity essentially says:
A biblical worldview declares respect for those who are overweight and obese from Scripture, while the body positivity movement demands respect for the overweight and obese through activism.
For Christians, the foundation for this respect is the reality of the image of God fueled by gospel truth. But proponents of the body positivity movement seek societal change that presses for a morality devoid of the gospel.
Like all other cultural issues, Christians must fight to think about body positivity biblically, knowing our ultimate identity is in Christ who breaks down all barriers of hostility (Ephesians 2:14).