It’s January. And you know what that means…Thousands of ads for gyms and detox diets! YAY!
It’s not cute. It’s a difficult time to be a person who is at war with their body. Both here and on my Instagram I try to be an anecdote for these messages. I preach body acceptance of ourselves and acceptance of diverse bodies. But despite this I don’t think I quite fit into the body positive universe.
Don’t get me wrong, I love body positivity
I am a huge consumer of body positive content. Seeing people with diverse body types being comfortable with themselves and beautiful in their vulnerability helps me to be more comfortable in myself. And whilst I post things that may look like body positivity, you may have noticed that I don’t use any body positivity hashtags. I used to. But I learned that it wasn’t by sphere. And I was taking up space that should be reserved for someone else with more to say. This is why I use the hashtags #bodyacceptance and #bodylove now. Because they better encompass what I stand for and the space that I want to occupy.
But what do I mean when I say body positivity isn’t my space?
I think there is a lot of confusion about what body positivity actually means. When I used to define body positivity I used to think it just meant being positive about your own body and other people’s bodies. But it is much more. Body positivity is a form of activism. It is political. It is a way of people with marginilised bodies asserting that they are here and deserve rights and respect just like anyone else. I do not fit in here.
But I had/have an eating disorder…Shouldn’t body positivity embrace me?
It is easy to confuse the oppression we feel as people with eating disorders with the marginalisation people with larger, disabled, black and trans bodies experience. But they are actually very different things. And whilst I have had a difficult relationship with my body, I have largely benefited from thin privilege. Although I am a little ‘chubby’ now, I am a size 16 and still fit into conventional beauty standards (just). I can generally shop whereever I want. And eat whatever I want without question. I can go to the doctors for any concern without fearing they will bring up my weight. Clothing and daily living are accessible for me. And this is why body positivity isn’t for me. It is also why we need body positivity as a movement.
So if body positivity isn’t for me…What can I do?
There are ways to support body positivity whilst not taking up space from voices that need to be heard. Firstly, I would encourage people to stay in their lane. Just as I have done, consider referring to yourself as being on a journey of body acceptance and body love as opposed to body positivity. Also lift up the voices of those within the body positive community. Speaking of, some of my favourite body positive Instagram accounts are @bodyposipanda, @the_feeding_of_the_fox, @erikcavanaugh, @curvesbecomeher and @beyondthenormative. The @thehopefulhermit is also an artist who uses diverse bodies for their inspiration.
So there you have it. I’m not body positive. But I am positive about body positivity as a movement. And I am still working on being more positive towards my body and the bodies of others.