Health & Body

Body Positivity: Two Truths and a Lie

Doug Bender

September 16, 2021 | 2 minute read

I remember seeing it in the Dove soap commercials first. Up until that moment every depiction of female beauty seemed to be the same: they were thin. It was sort of like smoking in the old days. Every show and every movie showed people smoking. The good guys, the bad guys, and the random people in the background. Everyone smoked. Now it almost seems weird to see someone smoking on screen. The same is happening now with our culture’s obsession over the super thin female form. Beauty is no longer exclusively held in the hands of super thin models. It’s becoming normal to see all the different shapes and sizes of beauty.

My wife liked watching Project Runway, a show where clothing designers compete to design and make clothing that are then strutted down the runway by super-thin models. Then the world started to change. The show tried to catch up. Season 16 introduced designers to “curvy” models. They brought in the change with lots of fanfare and commentary. It made a big splash in the media and was the thing to talk about online. 

But if you were to watch the new design show by the same hosts, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, you would see a very different scenario. In Making the Cut, which debuted in 2020 as basically the same show under a new name, the models are different sizes. They don’t talk about it and there is no fanfare. It’s just what they do. 

The point: showing models of varying sizes is now the new normal. It doesn’t get a press release. It’s the latest stage in a growing movement broadly referred to as Body Positivity.


It is a movement that focuses on the beauty of all bodies regardless of their size or shape. 


  • Health is more important than skinniness. Body positivity focuses people’s attention on appreciating what a body can do and it’s strengths, rather than on what a body looks like. It’s true that you can be skinny and healthy, but that’s not always the case. When being skinny comes at the cost of eating disorders, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, health risks and more, then it is not healthy and it's not good. Focusing on what is healthy and what makes a person stronger is the better goal (though I would argue there is a better goal still). 

  • People of all sizes can be beautiful.  People come in different sizes and not all of those sizes are 0. The Bible says, “we are his creative work.” And if God designed us, then that makes every body beautiful. That doesn’t mean we stop caring about fitness and health or that we don’t care how we dress and present ourselves. Rather it means we begin our beauty and exercise routines with the belief that we are already beautiful in God’s eyes.


  • The Body Positivity movement still has its focus on the physical side of beauty. Those Dove commercials still have women in underwear to prove they are beautiful. Beauty is still tied to the physical form, it just has more than one size now. What you don’t see in a Dove commercial? A woman of character and inner strength being praised as beautiful. Or a woman who has used her mind or creativity to work good into the world. Or a woman who has shown unusual kindness, forgiveness, and grace to the people around her. Beauty then is still being shown as a physical thing, and until that changes then we still haven’t measured beauty by the same standards that God has. As God said in 1 Samuel 16, “Don’t be impressed by...appearance or...height...God does not view things the way people do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Want more on this topic? Watch I Am Second films related to Health And Body Image.

Header photo via @enginakyurt on Unsplash

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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