Back to Top

Instead of body positivity, the early 2000s focused heavily on diet culture.

Bridget Jones DIary
photo: Universal Pictures

As the top of Bridget Jones' diary entry shows, it was all about the number on the scale. (And here, that number was 136 lbs.)

Diet culture was truly everywhere...

People weight loss magazine covers
photo: People

... from movies...

photo: Giphy

... to magazines.

2000s weight loss magazine covers
photo: Marie Claire

Outside of the media, mainstream fashion also shared the same obsession with thinness.

dELiA*s ads early 2000s
photo: dELiA*s

Did plus-size fashion even exist in the early 2000s? (Answer: Not really. The options were scarce.)

If you wanted to shop at most stores in the mall, you needed to diet.

But at the same time, women weren't allowed to be *too* skinny.

too skinny tabloid
photo: Us Weekly

If celebrities dieted too hard, they were branded as "anorexic" or "sickly-looking."

Women had to be skinny without being too skinny — a nearly impossible feat. 

Then in 2007, Tyra Banks told everyone to "kiss her fat ass."

photo: Giphy

10 years ago, paparazzi snapshots of Banks in a one-piece swimsuit plastered the covers of nearly every tabloid. Headlines ranged from "Thigh-ra Banks" to "America's Next Top Waddle" to "Tyra Porkchops" — all poking fun at Banks' alleged weight gain. 

But rather than let the fat-phobic media win, Banks put her striped swimsuit back on and waltzed onto the stage of her talk show to deliver a fiery speech to her body-shamers. 

"I have something to say to all of you that have something nasty to say about me or other women who are built like me," Banks began. "Women whose names you know, women whose names you don't, women who've been picked on, women whose husbands put them down, women at work or girls in school.

"I have one thing to say to you: Kiss my fat ass."

All anyone could talk about was Banks' revolutionary moment.

Tyra Banks Kiss My Fat Ass People cover
photo: People

Her speech worked: After weeks of being mocked, Banks' "fat body" was suddenly praised for breaking major barriers. 

But even at her heaviest, there's no denying the former model was still a slender woman. She spoke for women who felt the crushing pressure to stay below a certain weight, but where was the voice for women who weighed over 161 pounds? The voice for women with deformities? The voice for women with stretch marks and cellulite? The voice for women who weren't as "conventionally attractive" as Banks?

The modern-day body positive movement finally started coming together near the end of the decade.

Glamour Lizzi Miller photo
photo: Glamour

In 2009, Glamour published this now-iconic photo of 20-year-old Lizzi Miller letting out a confident laugh, paying no mind to her "offending" stomach roll and visible stretch marks. 

Finally — an unretouched, relatable body in the center of a highly-regarded fashion magazine.

It was a beautiful image that spoke to so many women, and many people credit this photo as one of the "groundbreaking moments" following Banks' speech that spearheaded the body positive movement as we know it today. 

Today's body-pos movement isn't perfect.

Movies still typecast plus-size women. Stores and fashion brands still aren't as inclusive as they should be. The list is seemingly endless.

But even with all its flaws, body positivity has come a long way since the toxic diet culture of the 2000s.