There’s something strange happening in the body positive community, something that I’m not wholeheartedly behind.
I am seeing women who were once all-inclusive, disregarding minority bodies by declaring themselves exclusively fat positive. I am seeing hateful words being exchanged by those previously inhabiting positive spaces only. I am seeing a community breaking apart but those who could do something about it have tunnel vision for their cause and their cause alone. It’s sad, really. This community has given me (and many others) the space to cultivate our voices, re-learn body image values and rewrite beauty ideals in spite of what society thinks. The culture that we live in is adjusting (albeit minutely) to accept more bodies in the mainstream – but, I do understand that there is so, so, so much more that we can be doing for the bodies that still fall within the minority.
The body positive movement was born out of the fat acceptance movement in the 1960s – but like many things that came to fruition in the 60s, this has since grown and matured to be something different in current years. The body pos community is more than just about fat babes proclaiming the love that they have for their bodies – but fat women have recently been abandoning body positivity in favour of just fat acceptance.
This, to me, is slightly hypocritical.
Throwing shade will not improve the community
I am disgusted by some of the shade that I have seen being chucked around in the community. People making personal, hard-hitting comments, individuals who should know better, making snap judgements about others in the community based on their online lives, people choosing to cut ties with former friends instead of accepting their differences of opinion, individuals calling out ignorance rather than taking the time to teach and spread their word. For fucks sake – we’ve enough experience to articulate a conversation with another about body image, so why aren’t we doing this? Why are some choosing to belittle and demean others instead of taking the time to understand?
To step back from body positivity is admitting defeat
I agree that the message of body positivity has become somewhat diluted in recently months. As the popularity of the community has grown, more and more people have jumped on the bopo bandwagon – so much so, it can be confusing to know who is authentically body positive and who is not. However, as the community is rife with thin, white, cis women or ‘acceptable’ fat women, it should give more cause for fat women everywhere to club together more solidly and work harder to get their voices heard. For, turning their backs on body positivity, are they not admitting defeat? Is this then not another space that we have cultivated which has now been taken away from us? I’m curious – can’t body positivity and fat acceptance coexist? I think so – I’m doing it.
Excluding others from a space is in itself body shaming
To be a body or fat positive activist/advocate, it is integral that you acknowledge, reach out to and support all bodies. Thin bodies, fat bodies, curvy bodies, disabled bodies, male bodies, trans* bodies, bodies of colour, queer bodies, pregnant bodies – the list is endless. It might be a hard pill for some to swallow, but the body positive movement has changed, developed and progressed beyond fat bodies to be more inclusive. But fat women are turning away from the bopo community in favour of the fat acceptance movement. Excluding bodies that aren’t fat from this space, yet who can’t find their voice in the body positive community as it exists now is body shaming.
If you exist in a space exclusively for one body type, you are placing others in the way of harm – harm from society, and harm from themselves. Those of us who have struggled with our body image will know how difficult it is to be alone and hating the way that you look – we need to be an ally for the marginalised and the ignored. If you are in a position of power and if you have a platform, it would be foolish to limit your voice to speaking about just one type of body when you know how it hurts to be on the outside.
You’ve got to practice what you preach – if you don’t want to be excluded yourself, then you cannot exclude those who aren’t of your body type from your spaces. I would’ve thought that fat women would know this by now – given our own experiences.
The body positive movement is a fluid space
It must be accepted that the body positive movement is a fluid space, and actually I’m pissed off that a number of fat babes, some of whom I once held in high-esteem, are turning their backs on the body positive community because they no longer like what it represents. The body positive community is a fluid space – ALL bodies are welcome there and if we feel like our bodies aren’t represented within the community, then it is our responsibility to make it so that they are seen. I’m also curious – would so many of my fellow fat babes have pushed aside the body positive community if thin women and ‘acceptable’ fat women weren’t at the forefront of the community? What if it was transwomen of colour whose bodies were the pinnacle of all things bopo? What if it was disabled bodies? What if it was any body other than fat bodies? How would you react then? Is it simply because the body positive community has more thin bodies in its sights than fat bodies? Fat women need to unite – not cut their ties and run.
I’m confused, I guess, why my fat sisters would turn their backs on the body positive community when it was BORN out of the fat acceptance movement. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t claim to – but I’m wondering why are you all jumping ship when there is still so much to stand for? Why are you abandoning the space that you cultivated when so many have flourished within it? And why, pray tell, if you feel so strongly about it, aren’t you making a stand to ensure that your body is represented within a community that you put so much time, energy and love in to?