Today, body positivity campaigns are all over TV, print, and the Internet. Many of these campaigns have done amazing things to defeat rigid beauty standards in our culture. Still, it should be noted that these campaigns are not as inclusive as they should be. Men, people of color, and older people are often left out. Some people, even here on the Odyssey, are concerned that these campaigns are promoting or accepting unhealthy lifestyles. It is important to find a balance between loving your body and taking charge of your health. Even still, this message is of no use to a certain group in desperate need of representation in these campaigns: disabled people.
Disabled people—regardless of race, age, or gender—struggle with their bodies like everyone else, if not in a different way. For some, the common "as long as you're healthy" message is not helpful. Some disabled people have illnesses that would not constitute them as "healthy." Others are fine despite some sort of condition, but society's view of disability does not let them be seen as "healthy" by everyone else. Some disabled people might struggle with weight more than an able-bodied person, thus adding to their anxieties about their bodies. Disfigurements, the use of wheelchairs, and conditions visible on the exterior are underrepresented in body positivity campaigns. Because of this, the stigma lives on.
Many campaigns are priding themselves on their inclusiveness. While it is essential to include all races, genders, and ages, disabled people remain underrepresented here. The point of body positivity campaigns is to erase unfair beauty standards and stigmas. You would not be reading this article if disability was still underrepresented. Stigmas around disability are as old as time. Disabled people are often viewed as weak, incapable, dependent, and pitiful. Campaigns against these stigmas, clearly, are too obscure to have made as much as an impact as the other campaigns.
When able-bodied people view disabled people as pitiful and weak, it makes it hard for them to love their bodies. If people view disability as a negative thing, why would they want to include them in their body positivity campaigns? This is why our able-bodied culture needs to learn that disability is not negative. It's a struggle that humans face. It varies from person to person depending on socioeconomic status, race, gender, and age, but is always valid. Still, people with disabilities are first and foremost people with living bodies. They are deserving of the same rights and representations as everybody else.
Sometimes, able-bodied people think they're helping the cause by loudly declaring random disabled people "beautiful" and "inspirational" because of their disability. While everyone likes to be called beautiful, this habit is not helping the issue. It is rather dehumanizing. Our culture needs to start seeing disabled people as people with the same ambitions, interests, and dislikes as able-bodied people. The only difference is a physical impairment.
A disability-inclusive body positivity campaign would feature disabled people of all races, genders, ages, and impairments. It would portray them as normal people with jobs, families and friends, interests, talents, and dreams. These are things that everyone else has, regardless of the aforementioned factors. It's practically a little-known-fact that disabled people have these, too. Body positivity campaigns as a whole should promote the beauty of life and humanity, not appearance. Life is a gift, and should not be spent striving to fulfill a rigid standard of "beauty." It should be spent living to the fullest.