The problem with body positivity: A complex perspective

In recent years, body positivity has gained significant traction in society, aiming to challenge unrealistic beauty standards and promote self-acceptance. While the movement has undoubtedly brought positive changes, it is not without its shortcomings.


Body positivity is a social movement and mindset that promotes self-acceptance, respect, and appreciation for all body types, regardless of size, shape, or appearance. It encourages individuals to challenge and reject societal beauty standards that often perpetuate unrealistic ideals and negatively impact people's self-esteem.

At its core, body positivity seeks to foster a culture that values and celebrates diversity, emphasising the idea that every body is worthy of love, respect, and acceptance. It aims to challenge the notion that there is one 'ideal' body type or appearance that everyone should strive to attain.

Body positivity encourages individuals to embrace their bodies as they are, and not rely on their physical appearance for self-worth and confidence. It seeks to shift the focus away from external appearance and promote a more holistic understanding of well-being that encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health.

The movement originated as a response to the widespread body shaming, discrimination, and unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by the media and society. It aims to create an inclusive and supportive environment that empowers individuals to love and appreciate themselves, regardless of societal norms or expectations.

Body positivity promotes the idea that all bodies deserve respect and dignity, challenging the notion that certain body types are superior or more desirable than others. It encourages individuals to embrace their individuality, celebrate diversity, and reject the harmful messages that can lead to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.

Superficial acceptance

One of the key criticisms of body positivity is its tendency to focus on surface-level acceptance, rather than deeper issues. While encouraging individuals to love their bodies is important, it can become problematic if it fails to address the underlying mental and physical health concerns associated with body image. The movement often overlooks the need for holistic well-being. Instead, focuses solely on embracing diverse body types. A hypnotherapist will help you focus on your whole body, internally and externally. You’ll learn practices to improve your self-love and find ways to incorporate self-care into your life. You’ll move from superficial acceptance to acceptance, and then love for your body.

Health implications

Although body positivity advocates for self-acceptance, it can sometimes neglect the significance of overall health. Celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes should not be at the expense of disregarding the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Promoting unhealthy habits or neglecting the impact of obesity and other health conditions can have detrimental effects on individuals' well-being in the long run.

As a hypnotherapist, I regularly work with people with body image difficulties. When I hear their feelings, I feel it. We need to accept the human body in all forms. Just as we accept trees in all shapes and sizes, we need to accept humans as they come. However, I also work with people exhibiting false anxiety, sleep issues and mental health issues. I know that one of the main contributors to these problems – and others – is nutrition. When the attention focuses so strongly on body positivity, it’s easy to forget about health. Unfortunately, we all have an abundance of processed foods in front of us all day every day. Typically, society considers excess weight the biggest problem with poor nutrition; and body image as the biggest problem with excess weight. As the body positivity movement gained traction, being overweight suddenly didn’t matter, therefore what we eat stopped mattering. Of course, when you stop nourishing your body with nutritious foods, it starts to break down internally. It affects mental health and simple body functions, such as sleep. The physical reaction manifests as illness or symptoms of anxiety.

It is important to love your body, regardless of what you see in the mirror. However, loving your body means treating it kindly, which includes healthy food choices. If you find yourself stuck, trying to take on a body-positive attitude, whilst nurturing your body with a kind diet, a hypnotherapist will help you achieve it more easily.

Reinforcing unrealistic ideals

Paradoxically, body positivity can unintentionally reinforce unrealistic ideals. By emphasising the need to love oneself regardless of appearance, it inadvertently suggests that physical attributes are the sole determinant of self-worth. This narrow focus on appearance can inadvertently perpetuate societal pressure to conform to different beauty standards, albeit under a different guise.

Body positivity has undoubtedly played a crucial role in challenging societal beauty standards and fostering self-acceptance, but it is essential to acknowledge its limitations. Superficial acceptance, neglect of overall health, and reinforcement of unrealistic ideals are all critical issues to address. By recognising these shortcomings, we can engage in more constructive discussions about body image and work towards a more holistic and empowering approach to self-acceptance and well-being, especially within therapy.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Farnham GU9 & GU10
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

Show comments

Find a hypnotherapist dealing with Confidence

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals