The Negativity Surrounding Body Positivity

By Anita Moyale, G11

With the increase of plus size influencers on social media, ‘body-positivity’ has become a popular term and concept among teens and young adults. The idea promotes self love and acceptance pertaining to our bodies; it normalises things such as tummy rolls, hip dips, stretch marks, and so much more. I personally love the idea of it – we only have one body and it does so much for us, why not treat it with love and respect? However, there are people out there who believe that the concept is fake and used as an excuse by plus size people so that they can be “lazy” or “unhealthy”. 

Instead of promoting body positivity, these people are the type that are spreading fatphobia. You can’t assume someone’s fitness and health concerns simply by looking at them,  especially through a screen. Society has fostered the idea that only a handful of body types are acceptable – that you have to be a certain size and/or number in order to be considered, not only healthy, but desirable. 

It’s a commonly accepted misconception that fat equals bad. That overweight equals unfit. That plus size equals ugly. Absolutely none of these are true; especially the last one. It’s time that people begin to understand that humans have varying bodies and bone structures. This means that two people could weigh the exact same amount but look completely different, which also links to muscle fat versus body fat, but that’s not the point of this piece. 

So it’s important that you remember, if you’re someone who is guilty of being fatphobic not to act as though you know everything about a person. You are not their doctor nor are you their nutritionist, you have no background or context of their fitness life – for all you know they could be eating healthy and working out twice a day, five times a week. 

Even if they aren’t, you are not the judge of whether or not they are fit. As long as they are happy in their body and making sure they’re safe and healthy – whatever that means to them – then it shouldn’t bother you in any way. 

I want to now say that this all also applies to skinny people. There are those out there who are often bullied for having visible ribs, extremely skinny arms/legs, etc. Although it’s not as prevalent as fatphobia, it still exists. I’m just not focusing on it because despite the fact that they are still body shamed, they have been and – in some areas – still are the beauty standard. This is in no way saying that their insecurities and experiences are invalid, they just don’t go through the same thing that plus size people do. They don’t go through that discrimination. 

As mentioned earlier, social media ties into this topic greatly – it is arguably the cause of this entire debate. From as early as I can remember, platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest – and more recently, Tik Tok – have always had some sort of standards for a girl’s physical appearance. These standards are virtually impossible to achieve, unless you get plastic surgery. In the past, only bodies like those of Kendall Jenner and Alexis Ren were ideal – long legs, skinny, white, you get the idea. 

Now society is opening up to curvier physiques, but you still have to look a certain way; thick thighs, small waist, big butt, etc. So basically, you have to be either small and dainty or slim thick to match the standards. And neither of these bodies can have normal human attributes such as stretch marks, hip dips, cellulite, and don’t even think about having a single body hair. Either way, you can’t win. 

The toxicity that social media spreads when it comes to teenage girls’ bodies is insane. Not to mention that most of it stems from the male fetishisation of female bodies. I’m not saying that it’s the only reason girls hate on other girls, but internalised misogyny is often found in teenagers. It’s not exactly our fault, but we need to become aware of this and do better. 

Being larger than someone else doesn’t make one any less worthy. The destigmatisation of normal people and their normal bodies needs to happen – it needs to happen now. Not only are these bodies –the ones that society has branded as unenviable – completely okay, they’re also astonishingly beautiful. It’s important to remember that even the bodies that society has forced us to consider as perfect have their flaws too – editing exists and is more used among influencers and models than one might think. But editing or not, it’s no use comparing yourself to a standard that you will never achieve – one you shouldn’t even strive to achieve. 

I know this article is not going to stop fatphobia, but hopefully it brings you to a point at which you want to start accepting your own body for all it is, because it is so much –  it is so beautiful. 

And for you fatphobes out there: stop acting like a doctor, you’re not. Get over yourself. 

Cover illustration courtesy of Thomas Dimayuga, G11

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