The Commodification of the Body Positive Movement on Instagram

How to Cite

Cwynar-Horta, J. (2016). The Commodification of the Body Positive Movement on Instagram. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 8(2), 36–56.


Since 2012 there has been a heightened presence of the body positive movement on Instagram. Women who occupy non-normative bodies use the platform to post selfies to challenge dominant ideals of feminine beauty, including the demands to produce smooth skin, adhere to body size norms, and avoid bodily fluids. This has been accompanied by a barrage of media outlets advising their readers on the top body positive accounts they need in their life to boost their body confidence, and how to be body positive on Instagram for more self-love (Irish Examiner, 2016; Burke 2015; Vino, 2015; O'Reilly, 2016). News media circulated articles across social media platforms with stories heralding women who, through the use of selfies, open up about their experiences with eating disorders, shut body shamers down, challenge "bikini body" myths, and confront expectations directed at women's post-pregnancy bodies. Women who share the same experiences of and frustration with dominant ideals of femininity have identified with and participated in this movement through the use of body-positive hash tags, captions, and subject matter. However, as the popularity of the body positive movement and the influence of advocates grew, corporations began commoditizing the body positive advocates and using their influence to push products, capitalizing off of the movement. During the commodification process, the body positive advocates lose sight of their purpose and reproduce dominant capitalist ideologies, objectify their own bodies, and accept beauty modification practices.