The Issue with Body Positivity

Yay all bodies! Wait...not you.

The Issue with Body Positivity

 

Let me put this out there: body positivity is one of the most important things in my life. For lack of a better term, it’s my shit. I would climb a building and yell how much I love it, tattoo “I LOVE MY BODY” on my face (and yours), and do a lot more questionable and socially taboo things to spread the love. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing someone who is completely comfortable in their own skin, espcially because according to dosomething.org (https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image) “Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape.” This ideal body shape though is based off a ridiculously narrow (and for the most part constructed) representation of our entire population. So do I love when I see someone flaunting their stuff with a mixture of Beyonce confidence and Victoria secret swag? Absolutely.

So what’s the issue?

 

The issue that I have with body positivity is the fact that whenever I open a magazine, or read an article claiming to be “body positive” I again only see one type of body being portrayed; curvy or plus sized women. I’m not in any means implying that these beautiful women shouldn’t be body positive, of course they should be! As a marginalized group in popular culture it’s amazing to see bodies often hidden being displayed in advertisements, movies etc. What’s wrong is that those body positive messages now come with a stereotypical body type, and stereotypical characteristics that implies people must meet these to be body positive. Now we must either be have an “ideal” or a “body positive” body. Anybody outside of that comes with a stigma that we shame them for, that they are killing themselves to try and reach the “ideal” body type.

So we’re finally recognizing a different body type which is amazing, but what about all the other ones that have been hidden from us? What about the disabled bodies? What about men? Transgendered bodies? Bodies that don’t even know how to identify their bodies according to the norms we put out? All the different ethnicities? The ones with “disproportional” features? Why aren’t we celebrating all bodies when we talk about body positivity?

To get away from another set of twenty questions I’ll just say this. To me, showing a singular body type when talking about body positivity isn’t closing the gap between a “right and wrong” body but making it larger. To me, it just seems like the equivalent of someone saying; look how different they are from the image we produce, yet look how happy they are! Good for them! They aren’t meeting the standard that society produces and they are still happy wahoo! So even though they don’t look like the standard, they are celebrating their bodies and that is seen as a good thing. Which it is of course! There is absolutely nothing wrong with people celebrating bodies (see above “will tattoo I LOVE BODIES on my face”), it’s the way we are celebrating the fact that people who stem away from a standard body type are happy; because it implies there is a standard that people have to meet.

So instead of pulling a Socrates and asking a million more questions all I want to ask is one. Why is there a “standard” body? If we learned to celebrate every body regardless of if it’s meets this “standard” or not, regardless if this body was tall, plump, skinny, curvy, big boned, lanky or reminiscent of a young Leonardo Dicaprio (swoon)- let’s just celebrate it. Flaunt your body like a brand new oscar (again, yay leo) and let’s push ALL bodies to be shown as body positive. Because just as wrong as it is to say there is one body type being shown in the media, it seems just as wrong to say there is one body you should be happy with.

- Kate