The Origin of Body Positivity: A Look into the Movement’s History and Evolution

Welcome to the Unapologetically Fat Podcast, where I encourage plus-size women to find a sense of liberation through body acceptance & radical self-love! In today’s episode, I delve into the meaning of body positivity and its roots. I also share a fun new audience segment – Body Positivity Wins – and share the first win from a listener (who happens to be a friend too) 😉

Note Worthy Timestamps: 

[05:37] – Fat activism called out reducing industries (aka diet culture), faced challenges.

[07:14] – Introducing fun new segment: Body Positivity Wins & a listener submitted win is shared.

[08:08] – Body positivity wins are inspiring and worth celebrating. 

Key Takeaways:   

  • Defining Body Positivity
  • Emphasis on the appreciation of body functionality rather than just physiological appearance
  • The origins of body positivity to the fat rights movement, dating back to 1969.
  • Body Positivity Wins (listener wins) – submit your wins to me:

Next week, I’ll be talking about body neutrality, so be sure to tune in next Thursday.




Have you ever wished you could change something about your body? You are not alone. From a young age, I would go to bed crying and wishing I had a fairy godmother that would wave her magic wand and poof, I'd be thin. Of course, that didn't happen, but I did find body positivity. And that's what we're gonna talk about today. Body positivity and where the movement comes from. Also, you will not want to miss a quick little segment where I share a listener's body positivity win. So be sure to tune in for today's episode. K.


Hey. Welcome back to the unapologetically fat podcast. I'm your fat and fabulous host, Tish. And today, we are diving into a topic that is near and dear to my heart and has been since 2018. Body positivity. In this episode, I'm gonna explore what body positivity is, why it's important, whether you're new to the concept or a seasoned advocate, there's always something more to learn and discover on this journey of self love and accept it. So grab your favorite drink, get cozy, and let's dive into the world of body positivity together because you deserve to feel fabulous and unapologetic in the skin you're in. Let's start by unpacking the meaning of body positivity.


I'm gonna give you 2 different definitions of body positivity. The first one is from Wikipedia. Body positivity is a social movement that promotes a positive view of all bodies regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities. Proponents focus on the appreciation of the functionality and health of the human body instead of its physiological appearance. The second one, I unfortunately did not write down where this one came from because I was doing a ton of research for this episode, so I can't give you information where I got this one from, but I'm still gonna share it because I like the ending of this one. Body positivity is a social movement that encourages people to accept and appreciate all body types and shapes, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, or physical abilities. It also emphasizes self acceptance, inner worth, and a priest's appreciation for a body's abilities. The body positive movement aims to challenge how society views the body, promote the acceptance of all bodies, help people build confidence and acceptance of their own bodies, and address un unrealistic body standards.


So I shared those 2 because the second one is is pretty much the same as the definition from Wikipedia. I just liked the last little bit of the second one. So what I wanna remind you is body positivity isn't just about feeling good about ourselves. It's also about advocating for change and challenging the status quo. Do not get me started on the rabbit trail of talking about society's bullshit body and beauty standards because we could be here all day. Let's explore where body positivity came from, and this comes from Tigress Osborne, the chair of the National Association to Advanced Fat Acceptance, NAFA. I will have links to the site and also the article that I pulled this information from in the show notes. So body positivity begins with the fat rights movement.


In 1969, a young engineer in New York named Bill Fabry was angry about the way the world was treating his fat wife, Joyce. He had read an article a couple of years earlier by a fat man called Lou Louderbach about the unfair ways fat people were treated. He made copies and handed them out to everyone he knew. Then he gathered a small group of people and created the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, which is today known as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance or NAFA, the world's longest running fat rights organization. On the other side of the US, a group of California feminists were also angry about the treatment of fat people. They formed the fat underground. What NAFA called fat acceptance, they called fat liberation. By 1973, they had released their groundbreaking fat manifesto.


It demanded equal rights for fat people in all areas of life. It also called out the reducing industries, I'm looking at you, diet culture, and declared them enemies. Now there also has been a problem with fat activism, the body positivity movement, and all of that. Because across fat activism, people were motivated by the leadership they sought in civil rights and other movements for equality and freedom. Radical fat activists saw fat liberation as linked to other struggles for oppression, But mainstream fat activism, usually associated with nafa at the time, often shut out the voices of people of color. They thought trying to take on more than one issue at a time might dilute their message. Plus, many white activists believed that because black communities and other communities of color seemed to be more accepting of fat people, that meant fat people of color simply didn't need fat activism. Unfortunately, especially in the beginning, this important movement to help marginalized people often marginalized whole groups of people itself.


Again, I will have a link to this article with that information in the show notes. And now it's time to take a quick break from the main episode to share a fun but brief new segment called share your body positivity wins. I've asked people to share their victories in embracing body positivity. And if you would love to submit your win, just email me at and put body positivity win in the subject line. So our very first story comes from a friend in Texas who writes, after years of struggling with body image, I finally wore a bikini and felt amazing. It was such a freeing experience. Oh my gosh. I freaking love that so much.


Sarah, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate you. It's so freaking fantastic that something as simple well, I don't wanna say simple because putting on a bikini in a larger body is not really that simple. But isn't it funny that something like that can be such a freeing experience? So shout out to you, Sarah. Again, thank you for sharing that. I love this victory for you. And I just wanna remind everybody that every step towards self acceptance is worth celebrating. You know, not only do I want to hear continue hearing these body positivity wins, but I really think that anybody listening that hearing these little wins, which are actually really big wins, is really inspiring.


And like I mentioned, I really want to hear more. I wanna share more of these body positivity wins. So, again, please email me tish at and put body positivity win in the subject line. And now let me wrap up with some final thoughts. Body positivity is a journey towards self acceptance and love. It's about embracing our uniqueness and rejecting society's bullshit body and beauty standards. Remember to be kind to yourself and, of course, to others. Thank you so much for tuning in today.


I hope this episode has inspired you to embrace and celebrate your body and the beauty within you. Next week, I'm gonna be talking about body neutrality.