Dear body positive influencers: you’re not fooling anyone.

Monica S
6 min readJan 15, 2024

I want to state this is not an article against the body positivity movement. The body positivity movement has done many great things and has helped people to feel better about their bodies. We’re lucky that this generation’s attitudes towards body image are changing. I for one no longer feel the need to shrink to a size that is unrealistic and unhealthy for my body type. Whilst the body positivity movement has done a lot of good work, there’s a side to it that encourages obsession with body image and validation under the guise of “body positivity” especially on social media.

These body positivity influencers vary in shape and size with some being an unhealthy size to others being a healthy size and sporty. What these body positivity influencers have in common are an obsession with their body and the search for validation. They post endless and daily photos of their bodies, usually flattering pictures alongside pictures taken at more unflattering angles with captions along the lines of “my body 99% of the time.”

Whilst I understand the need to highlight that our bodies change throughout the day due to hormones, hydration levels and food intake, these messages are obsessive and constant. It’s almost as though these influencers are trying to convince themselves rather than everybody else. How can constantly posting pictures of your body be psychologically healthy? The more you compare the pictures, the more you find flaws in your body. I don’t believe that constantly highlighting your “flaws” is healthy even though the influencers claim that they aren’t “flaws” and they are embracing the things that society doesn’t deem as attractive. Well societial beauty standards are constantly changing. Fifteen years ago having a “big bum” was a bad thing, but now the bigger the bum, the better. Now the thicc body type is in fashion. Stretchmarks and cellulite are more acceptable than before.

The constant need to point out “flaws” such as belly rolls and cellulite scream that the influencer is insecure about these things themselves and want validation from their followers to tell them that they’re beautiful. Most people who feel fine about their body don’t feel the need to show off their “flaws.” I have a bit of cellulite and a stomach roll (who doesn’t??) which I feel fine about but I don’t feel the need to constantly photograph and draw attention to.

Paying so much attention to your body isn’t healthy. These body positivity influencers still hammer home the message that a person’s body is the most vital part of their being even if they deny it. There are so many other important things to focus on other than our bodies. Why don’t these body positivity influencers show people their real selves; their passions, talents and skills? It could be that they feel that they have nothing else to offer other than their bodies which is very sad. I accept my body but there’s more to me than the way I look. I’m a writer, teacher, comedian and artist. That’s what I want people to associate me with, not my how much cellulite I have on my bum or how many stretchmarks I have.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accounts that inspire people to change their bodies in a healthy way such as weight loss or muscle gain accounts. However, sometimes these influencers also allow themselves to be defined by their bodies. It’s amazing if say someone loses 100 pounds. They should completely be proud and show it off, but at the same time just because they lost 100 pounds doesn’t mean that should be the sole purpose of their identity. Having have lost 60 pounds in the past, I became obsessed with my weight loss and allowed it to define me. It got to the point where I almost developed an eating disorder and my self esteem was at an all time low. I didn’t have Instagram back then but if I had started a weight loss account, it would have only have continued to feed into my obsession.

Focusing on your weight loss or muscle gain constantly isn’t healthy and a lot of these weight-loss and body building accounts lead to self-obsession. Many of these weight loss and body building influencers post endless daily pictures of their weight loss or muscle gain to the point it doesn’t inspire me anymore. If you feel beautiful and good about yourself, you shouldn’t need validation from others. Yes share your weight-loss or muscle gain pictures and tips to success, but don’t lose sight of who you are. There’s more to life than how you look and what you eat.

Another thing I find problemic are influencers who are extremely overweight and try to convince themselves and others that their weight gain is normal and fine. Some of these influencers started off a few years ago as weight-loss influencers who then stopped leading a healthy lifestyle and gained an unhealthy amount of weight in a short few years. Gaining weight is normal. 5, 10, 20, even 30- 40 pounds is normal depending on circumstances like having a baby or recovering from an eating disorder. Gaining 100+ pounds though is not normal or healthy!

Nobody should hate themselves or beat themselves up for gaining weight. Losing weight is often seen as a negative thing; that you hate yourself and aren’t happy with yourself. Weight loss has been demonized. Weight loss can actually be a big sign of self-love.

During the pandemic I gained 40 pounds. I’ve lost some of the weight but have about 30 pounds to go. I feel a lot happier with my body but I want to be healthier and fitter. I also like having a leaner physique. I want to be able to fit into some of my old clothes. It doesn’t mean I hate my body. I’m still happy, but still want to make changes. It’s like with any area in life, there’s always room for self improvement and self-growth. Does wanting to get a better education and do a Master’s degree for example mean that you think you’re stupid and hate yourself? Definitely not, so why is weight loss and prioritizing health any different?

It just shows how body image obsession can lead to swinging from one extreme to another. Swapping an obsession with diet and fitness to one of gaining excess weight. Both show lack of self-care and self-esteem. You are still punishing yourself. Overeating and gaining such a large amount of weight is a method of self-punishment as is undereating and over-exercising.

Whenever I see an Instagram post or reel where an influencer talks about “food freedom” and that “gaining weight gave them freedom and their life back” (I’m not talking about former eating disorder sufferers but morbidly obese influencers), I roll my eyes. Who are you trying to convince? Me or you? Most likely both. I think you’d find you have more freedom outside of obsessively posting on social media. Is food freedom really about giving yourself an excuse to binge eat? I think not. Food freedom is about moderation and not scoffing thousands calories worth of junk food every day.

Self-love and real body confidence comes from within and accepting yourself. If you really love your body why do you need to keep trying to prove it to everyone? It’s like people who try to prove to others how perfect their relationship is on the outside on social media, when really they’re unhappy in their relationship. Self-love is about not having to prove anything to anyone. If you stopped trying to prove yourself, maybe you’d realize your own worth and understand that the habits that your followers encourage such as binge eating and constantly posting pictures, are toxic and unhealthy. Your followers don’t care about your health problems from gaining 100 pounds or who you are as a person. They can turn on you just like that especially if you decide to lose weight for your health. Only the people closest to you really care and have your best interests at heart. Inspire people with your talents, skills and personality, not your body.

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Monica S

I love writing. I may be controversial but I'm not afraid to say it how it is.