The diet industry, the fitness industry and women who look like me, have infiltrated the body positive space. We’re grabbing our belly rolls and pinching our skin to demonstrate we have cellulite. The fitness industry is selling detox teas and others are posting transformation photos, all in the name of body positivity.
When you Google the definition of body positivity it states “adopting a more forgiving and affirming attitude toward your body, with the goal of improving overall
health and well-being”.
So, I get it, it’s hard to understand why body positivity doesn’t equate to feeling positive about your body. And why the diet and the fitness industry aren’t welcome.
When I first started to educate myself on body positivity, I watched a YouTube video titled “Body Positivity is bullshit” (Good one Britt).
A young, white, thin, straight, attractive and able-bodied woman, claimed that body positivity was bullshit. She had been skinny shamed, body shamed and struggled with her body. Yet, she felt that there was no space for her in the body positivity community.
My heart broke for her, I could relate to her, so I wrote a post defending her right and my right to exist in the body positive space.
The thought of even thinking that I did that makes me cringe, how naïve I was.
I truly believed through my own lack of research, that body positivity was a fluffy self-love, body love movement. That centered on ending body shame and a space to share struggles and photos of myself in a bikini, preaching “ I am body positive”.
I mistakenly used the space to share my body image issues and insecurities. To share about my recovery from an eating disorder, to share my stomach rolls and cellulite and to share about how hard it is to exist in my body without photoshop.
I believed because I had struggled with an eating disorder and struggled with my body, I deserved to be part of that space.
I was wrong and I am sorry. I can’t go back and change it, but I can own my mistakes and learn from them.
So, if body positivity doesn’t equate to feeling positive about your body. Or using it as a platform to share our story and struggles, then what does it equate to?
The Body Positive Movement
Body positivity is not just a trending hashtag, it’s not a title and it’s not something that exists to stroke the ego.
It’s a political movement that has evolved from fat acceptance. Fat acceptance aims to change the cultural and societal treatment of visibly fat bodies.
It’s a celebration of fat bodies and a movement to combat size discrimination.
To know more about fat acceptance, I highly recommend that you take a look at the article What Fat Acceptance really means. It does far more justice at explaining the fat acceptance movement and will help you better understand body positivity.
Quick disclaimer – I am not a body positivity spokesperson and I don’t teach body positivity.
I am a body love coach.
Body positivity not only focuses on the celebration of fat bodies and to combat size discrimination. It’s also a movement to represent and celebrate all bodies. Well, all bodies that fall outside of what is deemed socially attractive and acceptable.
What’s socially attractive and acceptable?
If you think about someone who has a good body, who comes to mind? Celebrities? Fitness models? Someone with a body like mine?
A good body, a socially attractive and acceptable body is mostly thin, straight and white.
Marie Southard Ospina states in her video explaining body positivity “there is nothing wrong with having a body like that, but the body positivity movement strives to represent marginalized bodies. The body positive movement wants to see, fat bodies, queer bodies, bodies of colour and everything in between, up front and center in mainstream media.”
The body positive movement is giving bodies that are currently discriminated against and marginalized a space to exist. So they too become the norm. It’s a movement to create equal playing fields for all bodies.
This is why body positivity does not equate to feeling positive about your body. This is why posting pictures of cellulite and stomach rolls are not body positive. This is why the diet industry and the fitness industry are not welcome in the body positive space.
This is why white, thin and able-bodied women are not really welcome in that space. Because our bodies exist everywhere, even if it doesn’t feel like it, they do.
Our bodies and slight variations of our bodies dominate the media.
We don’t walk down the street and have abuse hurled at us because of our bodies.
We don’t have people question what food we eat.
We can walk into any clothing store and find clothes that fit without paying extra for them.
Medical needs are heard despite our weight.
Posting a picture of ourselves on the internet doesn’t involve getting told to “go die” because we are simply existing.
Now don’t get me wrong, your body can be socially attractive and acceptable and you can still struggle with it. Your struggles are valid, your body image issues are valid and how you feel about yourself is valid.
Women that are willing to normalize stomach rolls and cellulite through posting photos of it are incredible. I do it all the time, however, doing that along with sharing our struggles within the body positive space, is not body positive.
Every body is welcome in the body positivity movement, but not in the way that we think.
You can be body positive if you’re willing to do the research. If you’re willing to acknowledge your privilege as a thin, white and able-bodied woman.
Body positivity requires listening and being a platform for those who are not easily heard.
Body positivity can be for everybody if we’re willing to be an ally and educate others about the movement. And fight for the break down in stigmatism, discrimination, fat phobia and diet culture.
If you’re not willing to do that, then that’s okay, but just ensure that what you’re doing is not in the name of body positivity.
I think the body positivity movement is awesome and I support it in every way that I can, but I teach body love and I believe body love and body positivity, while they could be similar, they are different.
Plus body positivity is not something for my body or for myself to claim.
I think we need to give back body positivity to those who it’s really for. Seriously, if we can’t keep our bodies out of a hashtag, if marginalized bodies can’t exist safely under a hashtag, then what hope do those bodies have in the real world?
What is or was your understanding of body positivity, I’m interested to know!