Body Positivity Movement: Does It Fit With Plastic Surgery?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, body positivity is “the fact of feeling good about your body and the way it looks”. However, opinions vary widely on how body positivity and plastic surgery fit together. Research on the subject is also divided.

Key takeaways:

What is body positivity?


Body positivity is a relatively new phrase. Some equate this idea with having a good self-image or self-worth. However, it has less to do with how your body measures up to current beauty standards and more with how you feel about your body.

Body positivity is:

Embracing the body you live in.

Treating your body with respect and working to keep it as healthy as possible.

Understanding your body’s limitations as it pertains to current beauty standards.

Knowing that, at times, your body may fit perfectly with current beauty standards.

Knowing that, at times, your body will not fit the beauty standards of the day.

Recognizing all the wonderful ways your specific body works for you.


Celebrating all the things you can do with your body.

What is the body positivity movement?

The modern body positivity movement exploded with the growth of social media. Fueled by cyberbullying, unrealistic beauty standards, and Photoshop, the body positivity movement has grown worldwide. However, this is not a new movement — social media didn’t create it. Instead, it grew out of the fat rights movement of the 1960s.

You can catch glimpses of how the body positivity movement influences and affects society almost everywhere you look. One needs to look no further than the modeling industry. Curvier models, models with unique skin conditions like vitiligo, and models with down syndrome are strutting catwalks. For example, Dove has committed to featuring “real” women — of different shapes, sizes, and ages.

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery involves changing, repairing, reconstructing, or improving your physical body’s form or function. Plastic surgeons can help you modify any part of your body.

Plastic surgery is often viewed only as a way to make your body fit the current beauty standards. And at one time, this was true. However, just like society has been influenced by the body positivity movement, so has the culture of plastic surgery.

What does the body positivity movement think about plastic surgery?

There is no consensus among those promoting the body positivity movement regarding plastic surgery. However, most do agree with reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive surgery involves returning the body to what it used to be. Repairing a part of the body for medical reasons is seen as a good thing.

Surgeries such as:

  • Breast reconstruction after cancer treatments.
  • Facial repair after an accident destroys the structure of the face.
  • Repairing a cleft palate.
  • Rhinoplasty to correct a broken nose to improve breathing.

Some who promote body positivity feel undergoing plastic surgery is totally against what the body positivity movement stands for. You are supposed to love your body the way that it is. If you have plastic surgery done, you don’t like your body the way it is.

Others feel some plastic surgery can be good. For example, enhancing areas in small ways, to keep a natural look, to maintain what is already there. This is seen as having a positive influence and increasing a person’s body positivity.

What impact does the body positivity movement have on plastic surgery?

With no agreement among those who promote body positivity on whether plastic surgery is good or bad, there does not seem to be much negative impact on plastic surgery. Instead, most plastic surgeons use the body positivity movement to promote certain forms of plastic surgery. Promoting the idea that you can change your body to love it, even more, cosmetic surgeons point out that they agree that everyone’s body is different and should be cared for individually.

The body positivity movement encourages others to embrace the body they are in, no matter what that body looks like. This means mentally accepting who you are — and your growth as a person.

Most plastic surgeons have moved, or are moving, toward offering more natural-looking plastic surgery. They no longer accept that everyone should look similar. Instead, they take what is already there and try to enhance it to provide a look that will improve someone’s view of their body.

One thing the body positivity movement and plastic surgery focus on is the reason why someone does not like their body. Both groups desire to help people improve their acceptance of their bodies. They know that it is important to know why you want to make changes to your body. Changes to your body, for any reason, should begin with careful consideration of the reasons behind the desire.

No matter which side of the body positivity movement versus plastic surgery argument you fall on, remember that not everyone is on the same side. That is ok. What you need to do is to encourage those around you to accept their bodies. Remember, it’s not just how your body looks but how you feel about your body.



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