Considering my current lack of a bae, I find myself resorting to Netflix and chilling alone more nights than I'd care to admit. While I've binge watched and enjoyed almost every comedic show I can find online, the search for body positive Netflix shows has been just a little bit harder. After all, most TV shows have a genre or a plot to fulfill before they focus on social issues.
We're arguably living in an era that is exploring the need for diverse representation more and more. As someone who's grown up adoring television and film, the changes that have arisen since my childhood are pretty obvious. Transgender characters are appearing in media cameos as well as having their own plot lines and as a fat person, I can also finally see myself represented in shows as so much more than just a punch line.
Representation and visibility — presenting minority characters realistically and as more than just a token — are key to humanizing different types of people in the mainstream. Through this, the screen-watching public will be able to empathize with and understand the struggles of marginalized communities that little bit more. Some of these shows have made a point of promoting the body positivity movement while in others it's not even mentioned at all (let alone as an actual plot line). Hopefully one day all shows will make a conscious effort to promote diverse body types. But until then, I suggest you watch these seven.
1. Orange Is The New Black
OITNB makes a point of promoting diversity, body positivity, and feminism in every episode and through every character. It's also the series that introduced us to Laverne Cox, for which I will be eternally grateful.
2. Adventure Time
OK: A lot of the characters in this show are made of candy, but the female representation outside of that is really revolutionary. Lumpy Space Princess is sassy and chunky, Marceline the Vampire Queen is long and thin, Princess Bubblegum is straight size, and Flame Princess is clearly a plus sizer. Not only that, but all these women have developed storylines and personalities of their own. IMO, Adventure Time can be called a feminist masterpiece.
3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
We must look no further than Titus Andromedon and his penchant for self love and self expression to understand why Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt deserves a place on this list.
4. Ru Paul's Drag Race
Ru Paul's Drag Race has everything I could ever want in a show: Drama, drag queens, challenges, and lip syncing battles. With its diverse cast of drag contestants each season, the show is undoubtedly body positive. As Mama Ru would say, "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" An added bonus is obviously all the style inspiration these plus size queens give me on a daily basis.
Glee is another show with a pointedly diverse cast, plus a million song covers nobody ever realized they needed (and that definitely helped shape my teen years). I loved this series a lot more than a 17-year-old probably should, but as a forced performer in my own school's glee club — thanks Mrs. Allen — I can confirm the camaraderie and pure fun that come from a group song and dance number. Thank you Glee for taking the joys of performance and applying them to what a school group would actually look like, thus making the occasionally (read: often) unrealistic show pretty damn body positive.
6. Best Of TEDx
TED Talks are renowned for changing lives and changing minds, and Netflix streaming so many of these speeches overjoys me to no end. The Best Of TEDx may not be wholly about body positivity (or even bodies), but the episodes that are will totally make you tear up. Thanks to the speakers, for wording my thoughts and feelings about body politics way better than I'd ever be able to.
7. Drop Dead Diva
Blogger Annabel from Feed Me I'm Cranky perfectly summed up how this questionable plot line turned into a fat positive TV show. "I have to say this show does not shy away from tackling the complex issues related to being a fat woman in America. Instead of focusing on Shallow Hal-like depictions of fatness that are one-dimensional, offensive, and unproductive, Drop Dead Diva tackles things like sizeism, the pitfalls and dangers of dieting, the absurdity of clothing stores [...], and the popular conflation of thin and healthy."
These shows often make an effort to be body positive. But even when the body positivity isn't a focus, the overall premise that all bodies are worthy of self love and worth still remains. Here's hoping this handy list will make your Netflix nights in that little bit more enjoyable. Though I'm willing to bet that if you're tucked into bed for an evening of Netflix, pizza, and "me time," you're already on route to loving yourself.
Image: Netflix (1)