Notes on body inclusivity, positivity and visibility in the media
April marks the beginning of Every Body month here on Wonder—and while we’ve been framing the theme in more philanthropic terms as of late, we’ve got a few articles that take on our first-of-summer theme in a more literal sense. Like this story on an especially effective workout routine, for instance. Or this body-positive piece on bushes of all shapes and thickness. Or this very story you’re reading now, where I’ll be recounting series that have included, spotlighted, even celebrated a full spectrum of body types.
Is it unfortunate that we even have to fix our lenses on these shows? Perhaps. I mean, giving folks a pat on the back for featuring real-life figures on screen? Hardly what I imagined as a child, awkward and uncomfortable in my body and my largest-size-available-at-the-tiangge jeans. I thought that a time beyond the 2010’s was so far off that there’d definitely be more girls who looked like me on TV by then. By now. But it’s 2020, and it’s still a little difficult to determine if that’s truly the case.
A moment of unfiltered honesty: flipping through channels and scrolling through Instagram still feels like a punch to the gut sometimes. I binge-watched Too Hot to Handle yesterday—hardly the best show to turn to for a body positivity boost, I know—and I felt like a marshmallow left over fire too long when I took a good enough look at Francesca’s body. When one fitness video shows up on my YouTube recommendations, it feels like a reward: I watched enough workout videos for this to show up here. Then I notice the four videos about cookies beside it. My brain recalibrates. I think about the celebrities who I’d mentally filed under the hot-but-achievable category, and how they might not be as achievable as I’d thought after all.
Self-esteem continues to be a challenge, but I write this piece knowing I’m not the only one still struggling.
Not to go all academic on you or anything, but philosopher Marshall McLuhan was onto something when he said that the medium is the message. While a show might not be about body inclusivity per se, if it stars people who look like real people, it drives a reassuring message home. It helps to see yourself represented, to see every body celebrated in the media.
Ahead are six shows that do.
Orange is the New Black
Parks and Recreation
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Yes, it’s on Netflix. Milk the remaining two weeks of the ECQ and get bingin’.
Nine-nine! Stream it on Netflix.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
When was the last time you felt represented by the media you consumed? Point us in the right direction, we’re looking too.
Art Alexandra Lara