I have been mulling and mulling on writing a post like this but realised that this is not something that can be done with one blog post. There are so many voices out there, literature and facets of this umbrella term. My purpose is to break it down for those who may still be wondering what this concept really means and perhaps a reminder for those who have lost their way.
The terms Body Positive, Size Acceptance, Health At Every Size are some of the most commonly used words to describe just what on earth some of us (myself included) are rattling on and on about on our web spaces. Essentially, these words share this one sentiment: Everyone has the right to be loved and accepted as they are.
This really ought to be a basic human right because it is that important. Now you might think that is taking things a little too far. After all there are far more pressing situations around the world – global warming, terrorism, the ongoing Gaza conflict and Donald ‘Toupe’ Trump.
That’s true. If you think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, it sure makes a lot of sense.
Some might even argue, is body positivity even necessary?
Think about it this way.
A young chubby girl attends ballet lessons and is called out for being disruptive for being clumsy due to her weight.
Does that sound fair to you?
Consider this now.
A girl in a third world country who has trouble finding access to nutritious food, is out with her boyfriend who tells her she needs to lose weight.
Do you think this does not happen in third world countries? Well it does. There are some issues that remain the same around the world – finding a romantic partner, existing in a safe and secure home (in all aspects of those words) and the struggle of being aesthetically pleasing.
Girls in Indian villages are told to apply whitening creams so that their value will rise higher when it is time for them to be married.
Where do these influences on beauty standards come from? No guesses there. Society and Media.
The perfect woman’s body has changed across the decades and if a woman does not fit the description, she is not worthy. She is not as attractive. She has labels thrown at her.
So you tell me, is there a need for women to feel that they can be accepted as they are?
Do not take the term body positivity literally to think that this is solely about a person’s size. This is about a person’s overall physical aesthetic.
Contrary to what the shamers and haters have to say, the body positive movement was not created so that us fat folks can feel validated. This movement was created because the majority answer to the question : What do you think about your body and appearance? opens up a can of worms because of the world we live in. We hope to address our own bias and limitations when it comes to this topic while sharing what we have learnt with you.
For me, Body Positivity is for everyone. My journey is not about external validation even though I very publicly share my fashion posts and body positive opinions. External validation can only get you so far before the layers that have engulfed your years of insecurities take over and send you down to the pits all over again. If I don’t feel good about myself, it does not matter what anyone else says because that critic in my head is what caused the disordered living in the first place.
There is no cushioning for shaming or hating from people you meet on the streets, online and among your little bubble of people. Any movement takes time and Any movement also takes great resistance, upheaval and discomfort before real changes are seen. Which is how working inwards is what gives you and I the ammo to face the world. When you know who you are and accept it, it is a powerful sword to wield.
It is a doubled edged sword and therefore it is also why we face backlash. “How dare you look confident in your skin! Don’t you know, you’re not supposed to.”
I’d like to meet the ignorant who made that supposition, bring my fat, skinny, in-betweenie friends in front of said person to form a line so that we can all collective slap the idiocy out of their brain cells.
Is Body Positivity a Feminist movement? I would say that it mostly is. We surely cannot forget the men or people who identify as a male gender who do struggle with typical masculine conventions of body standards. However on the other end of that dialogue is the disparity between appreciation for the Dadbod and the hostility towards mombods. The scale is very skewed my friends.
I know this post might sound a little scattered but trust me, there is a method to this madness. I felt the need to make this first post in the series one that will make you ask questions instead of sit back and swipe down for information.
Having said all that about internal validation of the self when it comes to a better self image, I am very vocal about the need for a cohesive community. We need the support because we have mutual experiences, through sharing them we feel a sense of relief and belonging. So I am all about fostering online and real life body positive communities that work towards the same goals in mind. That can be tougher than you think, mind you. It is a work in progress.
We are not a bunch of misfits or rejects of society banding together to form some fringe protests. We are regular people. Skinny body shaming, Fat body shaming, Trans body shaming, Femme body shaming, Skin tone shaming, Disability shaming, Invisible Illness shaming – the list goes on and That is why Body Positivity is a pertinent part of the world today.
When eating disorders were first diagnosed decades ago, it was considered a pathology. Today it is commonplace to immerse oneself in disordered eating habits and lifestyle in order to belong. It is very disturbing to see how young this starts today.
I think about the kind of upbringing I wish my future children to have. I think about the ways in which I self destructed and the nights of crying myself to sleep because of how much I hated my appearance. These reasons and more make me work harder because the prevalence of diet culture and body dysmorphia should not be acceptable.
There are many companies and organisations that work at this as well. Some with better meaning intentions than others. Some with much more knowledge than simply scratching the surface of what they assume is body positivity.
In the next portion of this series, I will examine the literature and resources out there for us to peruse. Also, I will explain some of the terms you might hear often but may not be too sure of.
I know this is a very text-heavy post but It is so important that I do this just as much as I do my fashion posts.
Sending you all my love,
xxxo Aarti Olivia