If like me, you are immersed in body positive culture, you would have noticed the community has blossomed in recent years. As something that started out as a fat activism movement, the community has now garnered an abundance of followers, supporters and activists of all body shapes and sizes. Hallelujah! But, within the BoPo world, there have been a few circumstances whereby body positivity and everything that it stands for has been used as a buzzword to throw around by many who are seeking notoriety within the community.
Body positive activism is vastly different to jumping on the body positive bandwagon. Instead of utilising ‘body positivity’ as a term to throw around for popularity, body positive activism is a continuous fight to give a voice and platform to those who are still marginalised by a judgemental society. So how can you take your body positive activism to the next level to ensure that you are still fighting the good fight?
If you are passionate about body positive activism and everything that it encompasses, then you need to make your voice heard. For some, a personal journey to self-love is enough, and those individuals who have come to find acceptance within their own skin need to be hailed as body positive warriors (you go Glen Coco!) – but that’s not the same as being a body positive activist. Personal triumps are empowering and honourable, but to be an activist for body positivity and acceptance, you need to make your voice heard by the masses. You have a voice, an opinion and beliefs, so what’s stopping you from making a statement?
Whilst body positive culture has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, it is still struggling to acknowledge that more bodies exist than just those that are white, a size 16 and female. There are an abundance of bodies that are still underrepresented, or not represented at all, within the community. To be more inclusive is not to be all inclusive, and if you publicly support the people in society who’s bodies are still marginalised, then you are making a segway into a better acceptance of body image. Start a conversation, open your eyes and others to the wide variety of bodies that are out there – there are more than you think.
It is not enough to simply be body positive on social media. Some seem to be happy in the belief that the snippets of body positive epiphany that they share online is enough to smash through beauty ideals, but it isn’t. If you are looking to be active as a body positive advocate then you need to apply body positivity to your real like – I’m not saying that you need to be 100% immersed in body loving goodness all of the time (frankly, that’s impossible) – but you do need to discuss, challenge, use your voice, make a statement in your daily life that works towards broadening people’s horizons when it comes to body image.
Social media can be your best friend – it can be your worst enemy at times, but if you use it in the right way it can work wonders for the community. A few years ago, I started a project on Instagram called FATshion Faux Pas Friday’s and this encouraged women to break through fat girl fashion ‘rules’ and wear whatever the hell they wanted. Working on this project enabled me to get to know women within the BoPo community who were as pissed of as me at the state of our society and wanted to do something about it. Starting a project is a fun way to challenge beauty and body stereotypes, it will boost your commitment to the body positive culture and you will get to meet a whole bunch of wonderful activists along the way.
Mainstream media seems to think that it can shut us up with a few ‘diverse’ bodies being represented in the fashion world and elsewhere in the public eye. However empowering this is for some, we can’t lose sight of our goal and be blindsided into thinking that this is all we’re going to get. Ashley Graham, Hunter Grady and Iskra Lawrence are breadcrumbs being thrown to us to show we fat and body positive activists that ‘see, the media IS becoming more diverse!’ But it’s not, not really. For these women are still falling within the ‘acceptable’ realms of body image and until we see people gracing the covers of magazines and in the public eye, I will not accept these women as representations of a diverse body culture, I will not back down – and neither should you.