I don’t write posts that I expect will ruffle some feathers and possibly stir up drama often – but that’s what’s going down today. There are times when it is necessary to stand up, speak out, and share your truth. Due to all the divisions and hate occurring in the body positive community currently, I believe that now is one of those times. I hope you’ll go on to read my thoughts on the issue , but if you’re pressed for time and take only one thing away from this, let it be that body positivity is for everyone. Any effort that makes an individual feel as if his or her body positivity is not welcome is an attack on the integrity of body positivity itself.
2 Things I Don’t Want to See
For quite some time now, I’ve been seeing a trend on Instagram that makes me incredibly sad. I’ll call it privilege shaming, for lack of a better word to describe the phenomenon. And it goes like this: A group that has traditionally been silenced within the body positivity community (and in general) lashes out at groups that have not faced the same type of discrimination or flat out bullying. Mainly, I’ve noticed some well known body positive activists with large bodies claiming that there are certain things that only large women can do in the community.
For example, I recently read a caption on Instagram (which I will not be sharing here because the purpose of this post is not to attack or call out any one person) that stated that thin women should not share photos “squishing together their rolls” because it demeans the experience of fat women who have to exist in rolls at all times, not just in certain positions. I take issue with this statement for several reasons, and you should too. But here’s the gist: it’s judgmental and divisive. Two things that body positivity should never be. On a more personal level, I take issue with it because photos like that save lives. I’m not being hyperbolic, I’m quoting emails and DMs I receive regularly. Emails from women whose eating disorders are literally killing their heart muscles and will to live – who see these photos, can relate, and are able to begin loving their rolls (even if they are small).
Inclusion Isn’t Optional, It’s Necessary
Here’s what I want to make clear: it’s not so much about the size of your rolls or how fat you are as it is about perception. Perception of perceived flaws, lack of healthy body image, and control issues do an eating disorder make. Women (and men) of all sizes die from eating disorders, and so every struggle is valid regardless of size. Therefore, body positivity needs NEEDS to be a space that at the very least respects and does not belittle anyone’s struggle. Yes, I have thin privilege. It doesn’t mean that a few years ago, my life almost ended because I hated myself and my body too much to eat. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of other thin women, like me, fighting to cultivate positive body image. And if posting photos celebrating their rolls and rebelling against that little voice helps them stay alive, f***ing do it.
Respect for Fat Activism and Unique Struggles
Inclusion for thin body positivity, and their right to participate just as equally as fat women in the BoPo community does not in any way shape or form mean that the experiences of thin and fat women are identical. They absolutely are not. Fat women are 10x more likely to be attacked for loving their bodies publicly. Fat women are harassed, bullied, and thrown fake health concerns regularly and it’s awful. A thin woman cannot walk into that discussion and claim to understand that pain. A thin woman can be an ally, support her sister’s story, and she should. If fact, it is the responsibility of thinner women to make sure that the stories and experiences of fatter women are being heard as well. There is no doubt that fat women have been systematically silenced throughout history, and that should never be the case within body positivity. But silencing thin women isn’t the answer either. The cycle needs to end here. Love and respect should be the only responses going forward. We’re in this together, and we should start acting like it.
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