VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) - It's all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: #EverySizeIsBeautiful, #LoseHateNotWeight—women of all shapes and sizes flaunting their curves on social media. It’s all part of the fat acceptance and body positive movements.
“The fat acceptance movement is people trying to help society change its views about thinness and recognize that people of all body types have beauty to offer,” clinical psychologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School Dr. Barbara Cubic said.
She says the body positive movement overlaps with fat acceptance, but there is a slight difference.
“Body positivity would encourage someone to make sure they're engaging in healthy behaviors like healthy nutrition, healthy exercise; and then accept whatever body that creates,” she said.
While these full figured ladies are getting a whole lot of love on social media, the haters or so-called “fat shamers” are out there too. Even medical experts condemn it saying it perpetuates the cycle of obesity.
But groups like Bethany Donovan's are hoping to dispel the myths -- giving the critics something else to talk about.
“Shaming people who are larger is very devastating and can actually cause more binge eating and self-deprecating behaviors. So it's actually the opposite of the intended,” she said.
Bethany is a living testament of the struggle with body image and weight
“I am recovered from an eating disorder,” she said.
She started a local body positive group in Virginia Beach to support women like Sheila and Gwen.
“That's why I started it-- because I recovered, I healed, and I want to lift others with me and bring them along the way,” Bethany said.
Her group isn't about the number on the scale or the size of your pants.
“We talk about ways that we can uplift ourselves--ways we can take care of ourselves,” Shiela said.
“The movement promotes self-care, and that includes taking care of your body, your mental state and mental well-being,” Gwen said.
So are these movements healthy? Or are they contributing to America's growing waist line?
“I don’t think the research is conclusive yet in what it's doing,” Dr. Cubic said.
Dr. Cubic works with people with eating disorders and obesity issues. She says there are some positive things that are happening in our culture right now.
“For example, just this year, Sports Illustrated had those three different covers, and one of those covers had Ashley Graham on the cover and she's a plus size model,” she said.
Truly speechless!!! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. Thank you so much to the entire @si_swimsuit team! I'm so excited to be a part of your family. I love you all!!! #siswim #beautybeyondsize
A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on
Every day we're inundated with these images on social media.
“What social media is doing in regards to our body image-- I think time is going to tell,” Dr. Cubic said.
While there may not be definitive answers yet, Dr. Cubic says the key is to focus on health not image.
“If we focus on health, I think most people would develop what their natural body size was intended to be, and then of we could help people embrace that and accept that, we'd probably be healthier as a culture altogether.”
She says it’s going to take groups like Bethany's to turn the negative into a positive.