Body Positivity – Has it become an issue of privilege? 33



Are you bikini ready and body confident?

I’m really struggling at the moment with body positivity. Having gone through a double mastectomy and failed reconstruction, I was always going to have issues with my changed body. However, it has really come to the fore this spring with the influx of social media campaigns declaring that all bodies are beautiful.

A large number of these campaigns are run by people who I would consider to be attractive women of an average size. Of course, all women are prone to body insecurity. But I can’t help but feel that when an average-sized woman is presented as the champion of fat acceptance, it totally marginalises people at either end of the spectrum.

In fact, they have commercialised the issue without dealing with the stigma and discrimination that exists. These campaigns are for average sized women to feel good about the fat bodies THEY DON’T HAVE.

Body Confidence - Has it become an issue of privilege?

All bodies are beautiful. Are they? Not in my experience. All people are beautiful and often their inner beauty shines through, but the fact of the matter is that fat people are marginalised, actively discriminated against, and often humiliated.

Want an example? I have been humiliated when riding a bike, by people in a passing car.

“Don’t worry if you fall off. You are so fat, you will bounce.”

I have been dropped from food brand campaigns, only to see the recipes I put forward shared by other bloggers. When I questioned this, I was told I didn’t fit the brand’s target audience.

For me, the issue is that when body positivity becomes a conversation about the middle, the people that the movement was created by, and for, are crowded out. That’s what happens every time we read that anything above a size 8 is a plus-sized model? When body confidence articles online and in magazines only have one woman above a size 16 in their “Body Confidence Goals – The Girls You Need to be Following” or “30 Inspirational Body Confidence Quotes from Women Who Know What They’re Talking About”.

It’s not just fat people who feel marginalised in this conversation. Naturally very thin people feel the same way, too. I really feel people are forgetting this was a movement created by fat people for fat people. To treat it so lightly does both them and me a great disservice.

It’s common for average sized women on Instagram to say that people won’t judge you by your body. Well, that is total ballcocks. Who wants to sit next to the fat person on the bus or train? You see people look at you, and scan for empty seats.

Prejudice is everywhere. I had my heart evaluation this year, which tests cholesterol and heart health. The conversation before the check was all about my weight, and the nurse seemed to focus on the likelihood that my cholesterol was going to need treatment. No matter how many times I told her that I eat a healthy, balanced diet and as a family we avoid foods that are high in saturated fat (apart from the dreaded cheese). I eat the same as my family, and they are all within acceptable healthy weights, but I am clinically obese thanks to my medications and anaemia. You guessed it – my heart and cholesterol levels were both found to be healthy.

When discussing this with Sally from Who’s the Mummy she hit the nail on the head when she said

“This really a conversation about privilege. If you’re a white cis-gender, straight female wearing size 12 or 14 clothes, the body positivity movement was NOT started to tell your story. And by using your platform to only tell your story, you’re crowding out the stories it was intended to tell”

Body positivity shouldn’t about losing 10lb’s and feeling happier.  It shouldn’t be about being bikini ready or how healthy is the new skinny. It should be about accepting all bodies.  We are more than just our body, so for me, body positivity is about learning not to marginalise people for how they look, full stop!

Body positivity should be about all people. Not just curvy people, or small fat people. All fat people!

I’m happy to wear a bathing costume, but I’m much more comfortable doing so without other people staring at me due to the way I look. I don’t let my feelings about my body stop me doing the things I want to do with my family. But all the images in this post were taken when we were at private pools.

Would my life be better if I was thinner? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point of this blog post. My point is that my life would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I am fat. And so I would ask those women talking about positivity to expand their conversation more about me, and the women like me.

Would my life be better if I was thinner? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point of this blog post. My point is that my life would be better if I wasn’t treated so poorly because I am fat. And so I would ask those women talking about positivity to expand their conversation more about me, and the women like me.