I Am The Everygirl

How I’m Staying Body Positive in an Ozempic World

written by MAYA G. PETE
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

As a little girl, I don’t think I would have called myself fat or plus size or anything like that. At the time, I knew I was different from the girls in my grade, but in so many ways: My hair was different, my skin was different, and, at the time, even my accent was different. My size didn’t phase me because so much about me was unique. As a bonus, I saw women who looked like me dominating the media that I consumed. Two of my favorites were Raven Symone of That’s So Raven and The Cheetah Girls, and the most renowned talk show host in America, Oprah Winfrey. I would sit at home, marveling at their content, and think, “Wow, they’re bigger, like me, but no one cares! They’re funny and super stylish, and if they can be all those things, then so can I, no matter my size.” I looked up to these women because it seemed like they didn’t care what society had to say about their bodies. They were just undeniably talented, funny, and artistic women who happened to be “plus size.”

I think that the little girl in me who used to be so inspired by them is the one who feels the most hurt when I see celebrities like Oprah talk about using Ozempic. On one hand, I’m so happy for them because the reality is, most days it can feel like an act of activism to simply exist in a plus-size body. Each day we’re supposed to wake up and remind the world that we’re happy the way we are. Their bodies have been the subject of scrutiny and think pieces for years, and I can only imagine what it feels like to be released from that burden. But on the other hand, I no longer see myself in them. I can’t help but think that no matter how much we preach self-love and body positivity, the goal will always be a societal standard of thinness.

How the body positivity movement changed my life

I can’t remember where I was or what I was doing when I first heard about Ozempic, but I remember thinking, “I hope this is one of those celebrity things that never becomes available to the public.” Selfish, maybe, but I knew it would challenge my sense of self-love.

I’ve spent the better half of the last 15 years making peace with my body and how different it is from most people I’m around on a daily basis. My teen years were characterized by me poking and prodding at my appearance. I avoided mirrors pretty regularly because TigerBeat and J14 told me that Hilary Duff and her one belly roll were ugly, so confronting my own appearance didn’t seem appealing in the slightest. For a while, I tried every butter, cream, and detox drink I could get my hands on—which with my sweet mom just meant natural remedies like shea butter and apple cider vinegar—to try to get rid of my cellulite and stretch marks, and then one day, I just stopped. I stopped trying to fit my shape into a mold it was never meant to fit. I stopped obsessing over losing weight to wear styles I thought only existed for skinny people. I stopped fixating on the number on the scale. I stopped all of this because, in 2013, I found the fat side of Instagram.

… my size is just an arbitrary number that fluctuates from brand to brand and means nothing when measured up against the person I truly am.

Because I’d never had friends that were my size, social media became a place where I could see other plus-size women appreciating their bodies and wearing styles that I’d been told over and over were only for thin girls. They called it “body positivity” and said it was all about embracing our bodies as they are, celebrating our body’s uniqueness, and recognizing its beauty regardless of shape, size, color, or physical condition. Standing on the shoulders of the Fat Acceptance movement of the 1960s, the Body Positivity Movement started its journey into the spotlight around 2010. This movement called for people, traditionally referred to as fat, to reject trying to drastically change their bodies to fit the societal mold while also requiring society to change the way it viewed people of all shapes and sizes. At its core, body positivity was a reminder that a person’s worth should not be determined by what size jeans they wear.


My brain took a deep breath and I dove fully into the world of body positivity. Not to be dramatic, but I think it changed my life. I started wearing clothes I’d been too self-conscious to wear before. I stopped being afraid to be seen in something that “fat girls shouldn’t wear.” I began standing out in my uniqueness instead of trying to fade into the background. In the more than 10 years since I discovered this term and the whole Body Positivity Movement, I’ve learned that my size is just an arbitrary number that fluctuates from brand to brand and means nothing when measured up against the person I truly am. I’ve connected with women all along the plus-size spectrums who look like me and share my truths, who understand what it’s like to exist in the bodies that we do. I’ve watched big fashion brands launch inclusive sizing and new brands emerge just to focus on our marginalized bodies. I’ve been truly having a blast in my own skin!

What happened when Ozempic went mainstream

So basically, social media helped me love my fat body. But now, it’s making me start to question that love again. Over the years, I’ve become desensitized to the onslaught of change your body ads that take over our feeds from late December through January. Years and years of this have made them more like a pesky fly that you learn to live with rather than swat at. But a new pest has entered the chat: Ozempic. No matter what social media outlet I open, I’m targeted with semaglutide weight loss ads. I’m not going to lie, it sucks. Every day, I’m confronted with the question: Do you actually love your body the way it is?

The other day, I was reading an article about Rebel Wilson. Her weight loss journey has been in the public eye more than I’m sure she’d care for it to be. She’s another one of the women that I saw as incredibly engaging and talented. Her ability to be absolutely hilarious in films like Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single, and Bridesmaids inspired me in a similar way as Raven and Oprah. In the past, she’s said her desire for a future family motivated her weight loss journey—and that’s honestly quite sweet. However, in the process of this transformation, she became another person who had advocated for plus-size bodies to be treated equally and then seemingly abandoned hers. Recently, she’s spoken about using Ozempic to aid in her weight loss and maintenance, leaving the plus-size community to cope with another bout of erasure.

No matter what social media outlet I open, I’m targeted with semaglutide weight loss ads. I’m not going to lie, it sucks. Every day, I’m confronted with the question: Do you actually love your body the way it is?

With so many of our plus size and “standard” size faves jumping on this Ozempic train, I’m worried. I’m worried that all of the progress we’ve made will be swept under the rug. I’m worried that plus-size-focused brands will cease to exist. I’m worried that the allies we’ve collected will turn their backs on us. I’m scared that women like me will forget how beautiful they really are inside and out. That’s why I won’t stop talking about being body-positive because once we stop talking about it, it will cease to exist.

How I’m staying body positive in an Ozempic world

I constantly remind myself that being body-positive can mean wanting to change your body, and it can also mean wanting to remain the same. So, I don’t think I’m against Ozempic, and I also don’t know that I’m for it. I think I’m just oscillating somewhere in the middle for right now, taking in the landscape and realizing that I can’t rely on other people’s representation to make me feel accepted in my own skin. My great-grandfather had a saying back in the day, “Don’t make a hero out of man, man will always let you down.” Because I can’t begin to imagine how the body image scrutiny impacts the faves I mentioned above as well as people like Jennifer Hudson, Danielle Brooks, Divine Joy, Lizzo, Melissa McCarthy, Ashley Graham—the list goes on—I can’t blame them for the changes they make to their appearances. I truly do think we should be able to change our bodies as we see fit, but it’s important for that change to be rooted in our own desires instead of driven by what society deems acceptable and desirable.

As I navigate this Ozempic Era, here are some ways I’m coping with my feelings and remaining body-positive:

  • I filter the media I consume: I pay attention to how the things I watch, read, and listen to make me feel, and if the answer is “bad,” I cut it!
  • I integrate movement into my daily routine: I’ve found that moving my body regularly during the week makes me so proud of it. It’s really hard to find time to believe what society might say about my curves when I’m huffing and puffing at a SoulCycle class!
  • I treat myself… a lot: Whether it’s taking myself on a shopping trip, getting myself a sweet treat, or scheduling a photoshoot to show off my banging bod, I like to do, at least, one nice thing for my body each week to thank her for carrying me throughout the years.
  • I don’t waste time with biased doctors: Gone are the days of using our hard-earned insurance dollars to pay for doctors to tell us that the key to solving all of our problems is losing weight. This past year I made a conscious effort to switch to Primary Care Physicians who can help me understand my body and have unbiased talks with me when I want to explore conversations around weight loss and weight loss supplements.

So sweet friend, if you take only one thing away from this, know that if you decide that Ozempic, or any other weight loss medication, is right for you, you’re still body-positive. If you want to stay away from these medications, you’re also body-positive. You can love your body and want to change it; you can love your body and want to stay the same. No matter what society dictates as the beauty standard, know that the only one who dictates your beauty standard is you.