The Problem With Lauren Conrad’s “Body Positivity”

shutterstock_277998116In a recent blog post entitled “June Shape Up,” crafty fashion and beauty mogul Lauren Conrad informed fans that her editorial team will no longer use “body-shaming terms” like “skinny,” “slim” and “thin,” and will instead replace them with words like “fit,” “toned” and “healthy.”

Unfortunately, that’s not all. In the same blog post, LC reminds you that it’s “swimsuit season,” designates “Shape Up” to be the theme for the month of June, promotes her poorly named workout series, “Bikini Boot Camp,” and concedes to only endorsing the word “skinny” when referring to skinny jeans.

Despite her (best?) efforts, LC may be doing more harm than good. By replacing these so-called “body-shaming terms” with words like “healthy,” she is seamlessly equating the two. Now, women have to hear from yet another influential voice that to be healthy is to be thin, to be toned is to be slim and to be fit is to be skinny, all under the guise of another “body-positive” movement that misses the point.

It’s baffling to see these “body-positive” movements continue to flop—feminists have time and again pointed out companies’ missteps. For instance, when ads for Protein World’s weight-loss product asked U.K. women if they were beach-body ready, 44,000 feminists answered by signing a petition against the ads and joining the campaign #EachBodysReady. When lifestyle blogger Jessica Kane spoke out against being called “brave” for wearing a bathing suit at a public beach, over 600,000 people rallied behind her in shared frustration. And when Sports Illustrated’s first “plus-sized” model, Robyn Lawley, who was featured in the 2015 Swimsuit Issue, turned out to be a size 12 and seemed to conform to our society’s dated and exclusive standard of beauty, countless American women—the average of whom wear a size 14—spoke out and many were left wondering, “If she’s plus-size, then what am I?”

As Samantha Allen said about a Swimsuits for All ad that ran in the same SI issue, “There is no editorial suggestion here that women can be both fat and beautiful, only that they can be large and beautiful—a slight but significant distinction for the many women who struggle to be represented in print or on screen.”

Her criticism rings true with many of the “body-positive” campaigns with which American women are berated on a daily basis. Rather than truly promoting a body-inclusive world, one in which all shapes and sizes are honored, valued and recognized as beautiful, these movements reinforce traditional notions of beauty under a smoke screen of “body positivity.”

Perhaps part of LC’s inability to understand true body positivity is that she can’t relate to women past a size 16. Her Kohl’s fashion line, LC Lauren Conrad, doesn’t run past that size, despite the fact that American plus sizes typically start at size 14.

If LC is really interested in making her website more inclusive, I’d like to see her do a full revamp. No more Bikini Boot Camp, no more “Shape Up.” Let’s see LC tell her fans that if they want to get beach-body ready, they should take their bodies, go to the beach and soak up the sun.

Photo via Shutterstock



Julia Robins is a Ms. editorial intern and a graduate of William & Mary. Follow Julia on Twitter @julia_robins.