There is a demographic of individuals who might find that their stories are lacking within the body positive community. Through no fault of their own, those who are losing weight are seemingly invisible or worse, banished, from the body positive community. This is something that I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, only I haven’t quite known how best to go about it. Sadly, I’ve found myself feeling somewhat silenced when it comes to the community. Trying to navigate the minefield of body image politics without offending or sparking negativity in anyone is difficult, particularly so when you’re losing weight.
Body positivity is absolutely rooted in fat acceptance. I know, Christ do I know what it’s like to live as a fat woman. I know the hardships that are to be gone through living as a fat woman. I know how lonely and dismal a place it can be at times. But I also know what it’s like to alter your mindset and cultivate a positive relationship between your mind and body. I know what it’s like to challenge and overcome hurdles to finally breathe a sigh of relief at finding self-acceptance.
Whether radical or not, I believe that it is entirely possible to uphold your body positive morals whilst losing weight. Unfortunately, across social media and various other publications, those who have lost or are losing weight are either upheld as an aesthetic achievement or they are shunned by a community in which they once found acceptance and support. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the latter has become my experience.
People who are losing weight should not find themselves lost within the body positive community – a community which purports self-love and acceptance for all bodies. From my experience, it is bloody difficult to maintain a solid foundation of body positivity when your body is changing so much. Frankly, I didn’t expect to feel my body positive crown slip as I lost weight, but I did. It also made me realise that there are few spaces available for those losing weight whereby neutral ground can be relied upon – without feeling the pressure to fit into that ‘body goal’ aesthetic or without feeling pushed out by a community that our bodies were once welcome in.
It feels like it took me an age to find love for my fat body, but I did and in my post ‘Losing Weight Is Weird When You’ve Spent Most of Your Life Fat’, I’ve written about how weird it is to lose weight when you’ve spent most of your life as a fat person. Since then, as I’ve continued, my body has at times felt alien to me. My clothes don’t fit anymore. Hell, my skin doesn’t seem to fit anymore. Physically I feel better, visually I’m trying to re-learn a body that I did not originally fall in love with – it’s difficult and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
In my experience, the body positive community lacks the wherewithal to extend an olive branch to those who have lost or are losing weight. Discussing weight-loss in this way is a tricky topic as there are so many pitfalls, toxic messages and negative slurs attached to the act of weight-loss. That said, it’s unfair that those on this particular journey don’t have the resources available to them whereby they can seek support if they’re struggling with self-esteem.
Fortunately, I have enough knowledge about self-love and body acceptance to pull myself out of any body image funk that I may fall in to. But that’s not the case with everyone. There are those who are vulnerable, alone and losing weight, who are often misled into believing that losing weight will serve them up a hot plate of self-esteem without having to do anything. Let me tell you this, cultivating a positive body image is hard, invasive and at times painful, but mostly – it’s worth it. Which is why I am so inherently sad that the body positive community, despite stating that it supports all bodies, inadvertently fails some.
What people choose to do with their bodies, is absolutely their choice. Who are we to tell people that they can’t manage their bodies and mental health in the ways that they see fit. As long as we witness it happening in a way that doesn’t cause harm to anyone, surely the body positive community and influencers within that should show support regardless?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are always going to be grey areas of the body image world, and I want you to know that I support you. If you’re losing weight, or not. If you’re fat, slim or somewhere in between (or outside) or those boundaries. Whatever your body shape or size, or however you want to treat the skin you’re in – assuming you’re not harming yourself or anyone else – you will always have a safe space with me.
By shunning those who are losing weight, is the body positive community not then perpetuating a system of body shaming ideals which they are supposed to be challenging? The ‘rules’ of body image are not sacred, we are here to make a change and shake things up to create a better place for all bodies. By putting such onus on those who have lost weight (as either a positive, or negative thing) is the body positive community not then placing a certain amount of worth on a person’s body which is the exact thing that is being fought against?
Isn’t the whole point of ‘body positivity’ to try to love your body at all times and support that journey for others?