Empowerment Is For Everyone–why body positivity must include all bodies

Let’s have a short conversation about body positivity.

So, there’s a movement going on, especially in the feminist community, about body acceptance and positivity. It’s all about accepting yourself, the way your body is, and rejecting social norms about what you “should” look like.

Let’s be clear: fat shaming is not okay, and is never okay. It will never be okay.

But there is some infighting in the feminist community about this body acceptance movement. There is a habit of putting one body type down to bring another up, as well as other habits of which I’m not a fan.

Some people uses phrases like these in a well-meaning (I think) way, and I would like to give the reasons to reject them.

1. Men like girls with curves; only dogs go for bones.

Heyyyoooo own those curves gurl. However, measuring the worth of one’s body by how much male attention it receives, is still feeding into the patriarchal ways of defining beauty. “The Male Gaze,” as it’s called. In addition, it demeans skinnier women into simply “bones”, as in less than human. We should lift each other up, not dehumanize each other.

2. Real women have curves.

Yes they do. Women without curves are real, too, though. Again, dehumanization of skinnier women. Just like some women are predisposed to be larger, some women are predisposed to be skinnier. It is also not easy for skinnier women to be accused of being anorexic, though the plight of being a larger woman is, in my opinion, more difficult because of the complete lack of acceptance of larger bodies. But the solution is not to compete over whose struggle is greater.

3. Skinny bitches

This phrase has been increasingly common in popular music, attributing a negative value to being skinny and a positive value to being larger. However, the “larger” that the music and the culture perpetuates is an image of a large ass, larger breasts, and a thin waist. It is not necessarily a common body type.

I understand that phrases like these are meant as empowerment for women. I understand that the lack of acceptance in society of larger women is greater than the lack of acceptance of skinny women. However, shaming any body type for any reason is feeding into a patriarchal view of women. It feeds into the belief that there is a “wrong” body type, and a “right” one.

I think the solution is to focus on phrases that empower all women, all body types. All shapes, all sizes, all races/ethnicities, all gender and sexual identities, all classes, all abilities. Beauty is a societal construct. A human living his/her/their life is beautiful, period.bp