The last few years has seen a rise of body positivity, preaching self love & reminders of how “marginalised” bodies are just as beautiful & worthy of our “mainstream” friends.
Then, in even more recent times, there has been a further rise of true body positivity, fighting for the rights of true marginalised bodies & educating our “mainstream” friends on the real meaning of body positivity.
Not A Case Of Them & Us
I say all of this in italics & inverted commas with collective pronouns not out of disrespect but because I personally disagree with the current argument of body positivity Vs body confidence, & because I want to discuss this without seeming like a case of “them & us” – I am, after all, one of the marginalised bodies in question so I include my own big fat self in this discussion & the last thing I want to do is rub salt into any wounds or make enemies of any of you lovely lot who may have opposing views.
Simply put, body confidence is exactly as the term implies in that it is all about being confident in our own skin & body positivity is the same overall notion but for more marginalised – namely fat &/or black – bodies who have faced adversity, judgement, ridicule, hate from others as a result of our appearance.
I do, of course, understand the absolute horror of having to deal with these things just because we look a particular way & I fully support every effort of body positivity made in against a negative, closed minded life. Every single one of us has the right to feel beautiful & worthy because we are beautiful & worthy, no matter what the media etc believe.
So, in that sense, I urge the bopo activists to keep fighting the good fight & educating the world in the beauty of accepting ourselves & others. We have got this!
Sorry Not Sorry
The part of all of this, however, that is not sitting right with me is what is actually being shared to be able to educate, & the definition of body positivity that is being used. Or, more importantly, the negativity towards anyone “incorrectly” using the term for being positive about their body that body positivity doesn’t deem marginalised enough to deserve to be part of the movement.
As per the description above, we have all rightfully had our eyes opened to the prejudice used against fat & black bodies through the rise of body positivity. But, as per the very same description, we were originally taught that body positivity & confidence were interchangeable only to now be taught that real bopo is for the more marginalised bodies. And as a result of this there is a backlash (albeit a rather small one) on anybody “incorrectly” using the term for being positive about a slim or white body.
Ok, ok, so I completely get how utterly infuriating it is when celebrities & influencers jump on the bopo bandwagon as a trend for the sake of the popularity contest we all know is social media but have never faced a dot of adversity in their life. But, by tarring everyone with the same brush of potential insincerity, have we not succumbed to the same prejudice as those who judge marginalised bodies, with us now judging others based on their looks?
How do we know that, just because somebody appears to have the mainstream “perfect” body hasn’t faced adversity based on their own appearance?
The simple fact is that we don’t know that they haven’t. And, although “true” bopo is about the positivity of marginalised bodies, it’s certain that slim/white bodies have similarly been discriminated against about other aspects of their appearance beyond weight & skin colour; height, body type, hair colour, hair type, facial hair, skin type, blemishes, birthmarks, teeth, glasses, dress sense, tattoos, the list goes on (sadly!).
The Struggle Is Real
Take, for example, my gorgeous friend Jess from The Good In Every Day Blog – she is slim, white & bloody gorgeous! So according to the “rules” of bopo, she has faced no adversity & therefore has no “rights” to use the term “body positivity”.
In her blog she regularly shares inspirational thoughts & personal experiences around self love & has recently made a conscious decision (as discussed here) not to use the direct words “body positivity” in reference to her own body confidence & acceptance journey. And hats off to her for doing so – well researched, girl!
But this utter darling with her pale-and-interesting, slim girl beauty has faced her own negativity based on her looks because of a facial birthmark she has.
Jess – and others like her – may not have felt the wrath of a fatphobic racist as the more marginalised bodies have sadly done, but she has being judged & bad-mouthed in the very same way, only for a different reason.
So is our Jess “allowed” to be body positive? Damn right she is – she has “earned” the right just like any fat lass such as I!
Practice What You Preach
This whole body positivity Vs body confidence all seems a bit pot-calling-kettle if you ask me.
It very much feels like the “genuinely” body positive of us are throwing shade at the “insincerely” body positive of us based on their slim, socially accepted appearance, despite them facing their own judgement (which is currently coming from the direction of us marginalised body positivite fighters – contradiction much?).
We’re In This Together
While we’re all embracing those characteristics that society insists are “flaws”, we should embrace each other too.
It’s important to love ourselves but it’s important to love each other too – be that foundation that builds another’s self esteem, not the bulldozer that demolishes their self belief by placing rules on how they can & cannot celebrate their body.
Dani | Mrs Crater x