I am not against the body positivity movement. In general, I think it’s awesome. There is way too much negative crap floating around geared at people in general and women in particular. Ads that boast that they use women of different sizes still tend to use able-bodied, conventionally attractive, cisgendered women. If you want reasons to feel down about yourself, you really don’t have to look far. If you don’t want reasons to feel down about yourself, they will hunt you down and find you. There are a lot of people out there who really, really need the body positivity movement to feel good about themselves. I think that everyone needs to admit that eating healthy and exercising are important parts of a healthy lifestyle, and then after admitting that you are free to completely ignore it (as I have done). I see a lot of people using mental gymnastics to use the body positivity movement to justify unhealthy life styles. No. Admit that some ways to live are better than others. But after you admit that, go ahead, say fuck it, and love the body you’re in.
Here is my problem with the movement. People should (should) be free to love their bodies, no matter what might be deemed “wrong” with them. Larger than the average size in the media and fine with it? Love yourself without shame! Embracing disability? Love yourself without shame! Genderqueer/transgendered/otherwise not presenting how you’re “suppose” to? Fuck all of them and love yourself without shame! If you love your body and someone tries to bring you down about it because you don’t fit their (probably narrow minded ideal) punch them in the face and/or stomach.
“Uhhh, you seem pretty down with body positivity and like you kinda really support the whole thing?” None of you are probably thinking that. You are probably thinking “does she ever get to the point or just spend all her post qualifying her statements?”
The flip side of the body positivity movement, at least what I have been exposed to is the idea that everyone must love their body regardless. That because it is your body, it is perfect. There doesn’t seem to be a place for me in the movement, except maybe as a body positivity ally, because I hate my body. I want to change my body. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling like I need to tweak some things to be happy with myself, as long as I do it in a healthy fashion. But when I mention that I want to make a physical change, I get bombarded with a lot of “but you’re fine how you are!” Which isn’t really appreciated. I’m sure I look fine to other people, as other people who point out flaws usually look totally fine to me, but that doesn’t change how uncomfortable I am with myself, and honestly it would be really swell if my displeasure wasn’t met with “but you’re not fat!” with some thing more along the lines of “well good for you for wanting to be proactive in a healthy fashion!” I know myself, I know what I want out of my body, and I know that I’m not currently getting it, but that I could have it if I got my shit together and you know, started working out, or doing yoga, or wearing my knee brace regularly. I don’t tell my friend who is trying to change her diet for the better “shut up and eat my french fries you look fine,” because she does look fine, but she knows that if she wants to be comfortable with her body, she needs to change it. I’m going to tell her when she looks fab, and when I’m super jealous of her wardrobe or smoky eye or knock-out cleavage, but I’m not going to say “stop working towards being comfortable with yourself and just do it now, as you are.” Because that’s great for some people, but not others. Just like I’d never tell a friend with a “flawed” body “yeah, but you’d be so much better if you changed this” I expect the same respect for my autonomy. Which I don’t really see. And it’s troublesome. I want to break down the lies of what we are force fed about acceptable appearance too.
‘Body positivity’ should be about everyone being comfortable in the skin they’re in, be it the skin they’re already in, or supporting them as they (safely and in a healthy fashion) work to get that skin. It shouldn’t just be about loving your fat self, that should be a part of it, but it so often seems to be all of it. If you want all women to love their bodies you need to
1. Present real, solid facts about health and fitness
2. Acknowledge that some people don’t give a damn and accept that they are making their own choice with that knowledge
3. Accept that self love is a process and not everyone is just going to instantly be there in the body they’re in
4. Be willing to have positive feelings about all body types, otherwise you’re no better than the people you’re rallying against
I see these four things happening here and there within the movement, but not overall. Until that happens, I don’t feel that there is a place in the body positivity movement for me. I’m trapped on the outside loving all my friends for the ways they are beautiful and awesome people, but feeling isolated in my desire to change myself.
Some links for your consideration: