Ever since the phrase ‘body positivity’ became a popular marketing buzzword, it has been used by both bloggers and brands to cash in on the trend going around social media. You only have to look at the Instagram’s of straight-sized clothing brands and thin fashion influencers to see how the body positivity movement has been taken and twisted to sell more product. You have a skinny girl forcibly folding over her stomach to show off her ‘rolls’ and preaching about loving her body – one that is already accepted by society. Meanwhile, there are fat bloggers and activists out here looking to change the way fat bodies are treated by society. It’s a bit of slap in the face honestly!
The Origins of Body Positivity
In my last blog, I explained the origins of the body positivity movement and how it has been completely derailed! I would recommend going to read that blog – as this is practically part two of that. However, here’s a quick reminder for anyone who needs it: the body positivity movement is historically quoted as being started by black women to find acceptance in their bodies and help other marginalised bodies love their body. However, soon after its creation, white women jumped on this trend and completely overshadowed the origins of the movement – that’s fat white women included as well. I believe this is the reason why we have got to the position where we are now! Fat white women have taken this movement to make it about them (myself included) and their smaller-sized peers have seen it as an opportunity to join in. However, what they fail to realise is that this movement was never about you!
Why Thin Women Shouldn’t Post About Body Positivity.
If you’re a thin woman, you are probably reading the above sentence in disgust. Because of course, how dare you not be part of a movement that doesn’t apply to you? However, please remember that your body type is the current ideal – the same way Eurocentric features are also a beauty ideal! While things are progressing and more body types are appearing in media, your body type is still represented everywhere.
Here are a few statistics that might help you understand how your body type is represented in the media versus people who are fat:
- Almost 90 per cent of women on TV shows were at or below normal weight, compared to only 50 per cent of American women.
- “People who are obese portray them either as comedic, lonely characters, or freaks.” – AMA Journal of Ethics.
I appreciate you may have struggles accepting your body as everyone does. You may have been bullied for your size and being called ‘skinny’ may hurt you. This blog isn’t being written to invalidate your feelings; you are just entitled to loving your body as everyone. What I need you to understand is that body positivity is a social movement!
Strongly rooted in the Fat Acceptance Movement, body positivity aims to challenge the way society views the body and behaviour/perceptions around certain products such as dieting. While this does apply to people with thin bodies who are affected by the same pressures of weight loss and dieting, there are deeper issues not experienced by thinner bodies – which occur for fat people. These issues include:
- Fat people earning less money and struggling to be accepted for jobs due to biases around body type.
- People who are fat regularly being harassed both in public and on social for just their body shape.
- Fat bodies being treated by medical professionals simply because you’re fat i.e. going to the doctor with an issue and being told it’s because of your weight.
- Fat students being underestimated by teachers and believed to be less-educated than peers, which could affect their life chances and opportunities in the future.
- Fat bodies having limited clothing available to them while shopping on the high street while thinner bodies have numerous shops.
As you can, the body positivity movement is more than just loving the cellulite on the back of your legs or your tummy rolls. The movement is all about changing people’s perceptions of the ideal body type and what bodies are healthy versus which are not. If you as a thin person can argue that you have experienced any of the above, then I would love to hear it. However, I highly doubt it. These issues are what activists and bloggers are fighting for – and why we get frustrated to see white, thin women at the centre of this movement. When you talk about body positivity on your Instagram, you are taking away the platform for bodies that are actually marginalised.
If you wanted to support the body positive movement, there are many better ways to do this such as:
- Calling out and asking straight-sized brands about their sizing.
- Standing up for fat peers and fighting their corner when they’re being harassed.
- Sharing content from your favourite plus-size creators.
- Educating yourself on the experiences of fat people