For me the term “Body Positivity” has always been closely connected to the fat acceptance movement (if you want to read one thing about FA today, please read this). Lately it’s been used a lot in main stream media, there basically is no way around #BoPo, everybody is talking about in on Instagram, in woman magazines, in YouTube videos and so on – so why do I more and more feel excluded instead of happy about the wide spread of this term and movement?
I mean I get it, everyone has body issues. It’s not just fat people, no matter what gender you identify with, how old you are or how much you fall in or out of the beauty norm, we all are brought up with a certain level of self hate for our bodies and our looks. But no matter how much you hate your body, or just a certain part of it, that does not in any way dismiss the fact that some bodies inhabit a lot more privilege than others. What brings us to a very sensitive point and question: Is body positivity for everyone? I would say yes, but…
Yes of course body positivity applies to everyone, yes every single person on this planet has the right to love their body, to feel good in their body, to think of them as attractive or beautiful, but some voices need to be heard a lot louder than others. A thin, white cis woman, who is generally looked at as beautiful, attractive, healthy and happy just because she is white and thin and maybe even athletic, can have just as many issues and negative thoughts about herself than everyone else, maybe even more, but that doesn’t make her the person who has to have the loudest voice in the movement. And unfortunately the people who are met with the least amount of discrimination and refusal from society are the ones who make quite a lot of money with #BoPo campaigns, videos, instagram accounts and so on.
Furthermore I think there is a wildly wrong understanding of the word positivity in body positivity. For many people it is read or understood as “I am doing things that have a positive effect on my body therefore I must be body positive”, which isn’t wrong but does not cover the original idea of body positivity. To me the core of body positivity is to stop negative thinking and judgmental thoughts about not only mine but everyone else’s body. To stop making assumptions about other people and their body, to stop making myself feel better or worse by trying to compare my body to other bodies. It is about a mind set and not about actions. Of course does a change of mind set in the end effect my actions, but narrowing the whole movement down to #treatyourself and how healthy you are and how all of this has a positive effect on your body is simply wrong and does not resonate with what body positivity should be about.
Of course I am not the first person to rant about this, and there was a post on Bustle that kind of triggered my thoughts. And this quote does kind of sum it up really well for me
“It comes down to this: While a practice might feel empowering to an individual (which is great), its origins and grander role in a culture might not be empowering at a core level (which is not so great).”
Yes things, actions, thoughts can have a great affect on your personal attitude towards your body, they can empower you, they can help you to feel better, more healthy, more balanced and generally more positive, but that doesn’t mean that they count as body positive in it’s original understanding deeply connected to the fat acceptance movement. To be honest, most uses of body positivity go against what fat acceptance stand for, as it quickly provokes that thought that a fat personal can’t be body positive because being fat is not looked at as healthy or positive. If you want to read more about what others fat acceptance influencers have to say about this Bustle has another really good article for you.