Society likes to generalise, we all know this. If a statement is made about one woman of colour, then this statement is obviously representative of all people of colour. If a fat man speaks out about his experiences, then those experiences are synonymous with all fat people. Sweeping statements are common in the mainstream and the ‘powers that be’ just love to put us all within the same boxes: no matter what kind personal experiences we have all had. Here are 4 things that we need to stop assuming about people and their bodies…
Transfolk are inherently negative about their bodies
The media has set the precedent for how transfolk are represented in society: as ‘other’, as outside the realms of understanding and as body-negative, confused individuals. Whilst some may indeed feel this way towards their bodies, and have confused emotions regarding their dysmorphia – transfolk don’t always inherently hate their bodies. Tyler T. Love, trans-burlesque performer says that: “On one hand I still internalize messages from the media, like I need to be taller or more fit or have specific proportions. To me, dysphoria is different than weight/size issue. It’s more like the messages being sent to my brain are different than the expectations my brain has when it’s trying to perceive my body.”
People assume that transfolk hate their bodies from the moment they acknowledge that they have been born into the wrong skin– but from speaking to Tyler, it can be suggested that there is a dissociation between dysmorphia and the messages that society are foisting upon us. It’s high-time that we stopped assuming things about the bodies of transfolk – for whilst many people are curious about how transpeople exist in their skin, few people try to educate themselves – leaving assumptions out there for the taking.
Fat people are obviously unhappy & jealous of others
Speaking as a fat woman, I can safely say that there are a number of assumptions that come your way when existing in a fat body. These include, but are not limited to – the assumption that I am unconfident, the assumption that I am unhappy and the assumption that I am jealous of others. Frankly, these are BS.
When I was younger, I used to lack in confidence and be jealous of others, but that’s only because of the pressure society put on me to feel this way. It is assumed worldwide, that fat people hate themselves and the way that they look, this is something that only aims to support the ‘beauty ideal’ that we have come to accept as the ‘norm’. Fat. People. Are. Not. Always. Unhappy. Or. Unconfident. Give us a damn break.
Individuals in ED recovery who put on weight are failures
For those on a journey of recovery, putting weight on can be a traumatic experience and sometimes in society, those individuals can face a certain amount of negativity regarding their weight gain. Some believe that those who have recovered from or are in recovery for an ED are failures and that they are letting themselves down. “In the ED community,” Gina (nourishandeat) says, “for the most part, the “idea” is that you’re supposed to gain ‘enough’ weight so that you’re no longer “sick” but are still thin”. It is assumed that those who still err on the ‘acceptable’ side of ‘thin’ are still in – whereas those who put on weight as part of their recovery and fall to the ‘unacceptable’ side of ‘thin are assumed to be failures.
It is the fat vs. thin dichotomy – if someone is sick and thin, they need help, if someone is healthy and fatter, then they need help because they don’t look how society imagines they should. We need to stop assuming these things about those in ED recovery. Eating disorders are one of the number one killers where mental illness is concerned – someone dies from an ED every 62 seconds. Let that sink in. We need to stop handling the treatment of ED’s and the individuals involved as failures or let downs. These people have recovered, are in recovery or are just about to start their journey. Offer some damn support.
Those who exercise are automatically anti-body positivity
The thing about exercise is this – it is neither body positive, or body negative. It is what it is. The act of exercising is, for many, a way to ease stress, a way to get moving, a means to sustaining a routine that is beneficial to the body and the mind. It is only the words and emotions that have become associated with exercise that make people assume that those who exercise are anti-body positivity.
But listen up – is not automatically an anti-body positive space by means of word association and exercise comes in many forms: walking, rock climbing, burlesque, swimming, running, the gym, hiking, cycling – in fact, the list is endless. Society would have us believe that the gym and fitness are only available to gym-bods and beefed-up bodies – but this isn’t the case. Exercise is available to everybody and every BODY.