There are so many problematic shows on TV, it's hard to remember that anything else exists. But among the horde of not-so-positive TV series lies a treasure trove of body-positive shows. These are the types of shows that make you feel seen and represented in a world where the idea of "beauty" can sometimes be so limiting. Sometimes it's just refreshing to see normal looking people exist on television! In the real world, we all struggle with insecurities and body image. It's unfortunate, but it's normal! These body-positive shows give a realistic glimpse into real people with real bodies.
Every one of these shows deals with body positivity in a different way. Some focus on the struggles of weight loss while others just don't comment on "bodies" at all, casting and catering to a variety of women. Either way, these series don't shy away from depicting women and men who look like plebs like us. No casts full of size-0 women or overly-buff men. Just real bodies, and the real struggles of having a real body. Body positivity is all about accepting your body and these shows help reaffirm that every single body is beautiful!
Based on the premise alone, this show could have gone in the wrong direction. When a fashion model named Deb is killed in a car crash, she's brought back to life in the body of a recently deceased plus-sized lawyer named Jane (Brooke Elliot). Instead of slews of fat jokes, the show cornered the market on self-acceptance. As Deb navigates life in Jane's body, she learns to accept her new life and how to inherit the internal qualities that made the original Jane such a good person. Deb was beautiful as a model, and she was equally as beautiful when she was in Jane's body!
Let's talk about a woman by the name of Donna Meagle (Retta). Donna is a plus-sized woman, sure, but she's also fabulous AF. Throughout the series, she is chased by attractive men, confident in every damn thing she does, and even alludes to the "little red thing" that makes men go crazy. All without mentioning her weight once! Donna is never referred to as "pretty for her size" and her sexiness never comes into question because of her weight. Sometimes the most body-positive shows are the ones that don't mention weight! Because, at the end of the day, it didn't matter what size Donna was. She was fierce no matter what and Parks and Rec let her shine without any unnecessary fanfare because of her size!
This one probably isn't very surprising! RuPaul's Drag Race is one of the most accepting, inclusive shows on TV. The drag queen competition embraces every type of body in the drag world. Instead of poking fun at the talented contestants, the show gives a look into the hard work that goes into transforming your body and look to be the fiercest queen you can be. There is no "wrong" body on this show. Everyone is worthy of the opportunity to sashay down the runway!
When you think of TV and movie "teen queens" and "mean girls" you inevitably think of the hottest girl in school. Awkward. flips the script and shows us that girls of every shape and size can be popular bullies! Well, something like that, at least. Sadie (Molly Tarlov) is tall, curvy, and in no way the idea of a high school cheerleader besides her attitude. But she doesn't let that stop her from ruling the school and getting everything she wants. Sure, she has insecurities about her weight. Who doesn't? But she has also asserted several times that she loves herself. She's awesome and no one can take that from her! You know, even if she does sometimes eviscerate people with her words.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a few problematic issues, but body positivity isn't one of them. This is made clear by one of the most fab characters on all of television: Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess). Titus is overweight, black, and gay. It's not exactly the easiest combination of things to live with in the world today. But he never feels lesser for it. The series frames Titus as one of the most confident people in the world — assured he can get any role and rock any cape. The character of Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is also body-positive in a blissfully unaware way. She doesn't see size or imperfections. She's overwhelmingly cheerful and accepting and we could all afford to be that way!
Everyone on Empire is having sex — and not just the "thin" people! The show has no qualms about declaring loud and proud that plus-sized men and women are also sexual beings. Case in point: Becky (Gabourey Sidibe). This executive assistant at Empire Entertainment is on the larger size but it never affects her career or love life. She even has a super hot love scene in a moment that was treated like any other sex scene on the show. After it aired, it caused an uproar because she wasn't a perfect looking woman, but Empire didn't care. They don't limit plus-sized women from doing what other women do because of her weight. Becky did her thing and the show is much better for it!
It's debated whether or not this is truly one of the most body-positive shows on TV. While detractors will say that Kate's (Chrissy Metz) story is all about her weight and trying to lose it, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Because when real women are trying to lose weight and better themselves, it can feel like weight loss is the center of their world. The bad days, the good days, and all of the days from point A to point B. This is Us captures all of those days for Kate and portrays the true struggle of a woman trying to accept herself while improving her health. The show doesn't skip ahead to Kate being suddenly skinny, it keeps the lens on her journey one day at a time. Body positivity doesn't mean not wanting to better yourself and watching a woman work towards her best self is lovely.
This may not seem like one of the most body-positive shows, but hear us out. Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) may be thin women, but that isn't one of their defining traits. They eat whatever they want, never stress about gaining or losing weight, and never care about the size and shape of others around them. Weight is a non-issue in Stars Hollow! You also have, of course, Sookie (a.k.a Melissa McCarthy's best role). She's a plus-sized chef but not once does the show comment on her weight. Not once does it hold her back from jobs or love. She's a happy woman who loves to eat the delicious food she creates. If Gilmore Girls taught us anything, it's that food is way more important than a "perfect" body!
Insecure is a pretty apt name for one of the most body-positive shows on television! Because, let's face it, we're all insecure. The show doesn't shy away from every-day insecurities, many of which involve our bodies. Instead, it shows real women — from skinny to curvy to everything in between. Series star Natasha Rothwell plays Kelly on the show and said in an interview that she loves how body-positive her character and the show are. She said,
And for me as a body-positive, fat-loving feminist, I need other thick and beautiful women to see themselves represented in ways where they are charactered but not caricatured. They have grounded characters with real lives, real stories, real backgrounds and the focus of the scene that they’re in is not their size or their color.
With a name like that, it's easy to believe this show would be more about diets than women accepting their bodies. But, the show is super body-positive! The series works to destroy unrealistic standards for beauty through a protagonist working towards self-acceptance. Plum (Joy Nash) is a ghostwriter for a hot magazine editor, but she quickly gets fed up with being mistreated. Her journey towards gaining confidence and loving her body brings her down some wild roads. But despite all the crazy things happening on Dietland, at the show's core, it's about women's issues and the road towards not only a more body-positive world but a more body-positive self.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has great music and great body-positive messages! Rachel Bloom isn't "perfect", and she'll be the first one to tell you that. On her show, she's worked hard to depict a realness you often don't see in women on TV. The series gives representation to so many different things, too. It's not just about women's bodies but their minds, and how we need to accept every chubby, messy piece of ourselves. With no shame, and with a lot of musical moments, if you're lucky. Body-positive shows are always better when they include singing and dancing on the reg!
Girls is no stranger to controversy, but there is one thing that has always been undeniable: Lena Dunham has no shame about her body. In fact, I think I've seen her naked more times on Girls than I've seen myself in the nude! Dunham's character Hannah has no qualms about her body or sexuality. She never permits her looks to stop her from being a sexual individual, something overweight people are so often unallowed to be on TV. Women of all shapes and sizes starred on the show giving a true range of beauty to 20-somethings.
Are there two more kickass women on TV than Ilana (Ilana Glazer) and Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) from Broad City? We doubt it. Not only are the QWEEN'S but they are two of the most confident, self-assured women on TV. They love themselves (Ilana maybe a little too much sometimes) and seem like the two ~realest~ women on TV. They praise each other on the daily, and Ilana never shies away from telling Abbi she has sexy junk in the trunk! It's refreshing to see women who not only support each other but make each other feel beautiful all day every day!
When the skinny white lady is the absolute least compelling person on a show, you know it's gonna be good. Orange is the New Black has one of the most diverse casts on TV. Different ethnicities and sizes make up this wonderful ensemble. Every character is uniquely themselves, portraying every different kind of body type. It's that ability to relate to the women on the show that makes us love every character — even if they are inmates in a prison! Every character is rich and fleshed out, no matter their size or weight. Thin women and overweight women alike are important on this show, and that kind of body positivity is so incredible to see!
Rae (Sharon Rooney) is a protagonist unlike many you see on TV. She's overweight, struggles with her mental health and self-esteem, and one of the most real characters on TV. After spending four months in a psychiatric ward for her body image and mental health issues, Rae is ready to reclaim her life. That involves a bit of worrying, a touch of attempted dieting, and a dash of actual happiness. Not only is she allowed to exist freely as a larger woman dealing several internal issues but she's allowed to be happy at the same time. Her relationship with the fit, attractive Finn (Nico Mirallegro) is such a deviation from the norm on television that it has to be applauded. This is one of the most body-positive shows of all time for the simple fact that Rae isn't a caricature; she's a fully fleshed-out woman.
It's no surprise that is one of the most body-positive shows since it's based on one of the most body-positive wrestling crews of all time. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling were a real group of women wrestlers, made up of women in every different race, shape, size, and age group that you can think of. The show follows suit with a distinct group of women unlike any other assembled on TV. They're all seen as vital to the group and all have important roles to play. Everyone matters, which is truly the key here. It doesn't matter if you're on the heavier side or worry about your thinness, everyone is accepted into the group. True body positivity doesn't always mean accepting your body because we all have things we want to work on. But it does mean accepting there are different bodies and that they are all beautiful!