1970s Weight Watchers on Body Positivity

Why does the current “body positivity” movement appear to be mostly focused on younger women, often posing closely together, in their undergarments? Do you have to be under 35 to feel good about your body? Is it possible to be modest yet love your body, or do you have to strip down and showcase yourself online and off to prove that you feel good about what your body looks like? 

Screenshot of google image search for “body positivity”


Those are some questions that I think are fair to ask if you simply figure the ubiquitous imagery of scantily clad young women as representative about what “body positivity” means. The difference between then and now that it’s no longer acceptable, thankfully, to use the inherently offensive term “real woman” which heavily implies that there is such a thing as a fake woman based upon the her body shape and weight.

It wasn’t until this past winter when I read a chapter in the 1978 book Act Thin, Stay Thin by Dr. Richard B. Stuart, the Psychological Director of Weight Watchers, that it all came together for me. Inside is a “Body Acceptance Scale.”


This seems so progressive! By replacing “feeling fortunate” about your body with “body positivity” I picked out what I think is missing from today:

Your Sex

1978: Addresses both men and women.
Today: Men seem mostly absent in the campaign; almost all imagery is of women.
Your Age 

1978: Age is considered part of your body, because why not?? Shouldn’t an aging body be accepted and something to learn to feel good about?!Today: Where are the images of middle aged, senior and elderly women in these campaigns, articles and memes?

Dr. Stuart points out that based upon a study, body acceptance scores are likely to increase as weight is lost. Today the message is that you should feel positive about your body at any size (but provided you are young and female?)What jumps out at you when you read this outdated body acceptance scale? Do you think the current “body positivity” movement is positive?

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