Like most good things, in the wrong hands, a great movement can take a sour turn. Such is the case, unfortunately, with the body positivity movement lately. This is probably because there’s a bunch of myths about what body positivity is–people seem to think that you can stick any size 12 hour-glass shaped cis-gender white woman on anything and call it “body positive,” but that’s excluding pretty much…any other type of body type. To be honest, this is where the body positive movement comes under fire: it’s trendy and positive enough for people to want to label things as “body positive” without fully understanding all of the inclusivity that comes with it.
On top of that, there’s the radical version of body positivity that full on alienates anyone who might be feeling a little dysmorphic about their bodies. Body positivity is just like any other awesome movement or school of thought (feminism, for example): at it’s core, it’s great, but if the wrong people get to speak the loudest, a lot of it’s base principles get misconstrued. So, let’s think about it! Forget what you think about body positivity, for a second. What’s there *not* to love about all bodies having inherent value, ability to be loved, and deserving respect? Sounds pretty basic – nay, awesome, am I right? So, let me just smash some falsehoods about body positivity for a second. These are eight lies you’ve been told about the body positive movement that are simply not true.
It Glorifies Being UnhealthyYou can be overweight and still in shape and perfectly healthy. You can be skinny and have high cholesterol and get winded walking up a flight of stairs. Fitness and health know no one perfect body type. Your body can affect your health in certain aspects, but there's nothing that says that people over a certain body mass index are categorically unhealthy across the board. If that were true, most olympic athletes would be clinically obese and that brings up a whole set of connotations and assumed realities about their health that aren't true when you bring up the word "obese." Body positivity does not glorify being unhealthy so much as it allows people to eat what they want, make informed and healthy choices, and empower people to love the body they're in.Source: iStock
Body Positivity Hates On Skinny GirlsSkinny bodies are bodies, and all bodies are worth loving and respecting, so welcome to the body positivity club, skinnies! Allegedly body positive songs like "All About That Bass" put down skinny girls in effort to lift up a different body type, and while totally catchy, totally exclude girls who get picked on for being too thin. I know that skinny is the alleged ideal, but that doesn't stop negativity from coming their way. Ever see those #fitspo posts where they say something like "strong not skinny"? I rest my case.Where people may get confused is that body positivity doesn't uphold skinny as THE ideal because there's no one right way to have a body. Even though much of the dialogue means well, if it's ultimately phrased as being anti-skinny, you're doing body positivity wrong.Source: iStock
It Outlaws InsecurityNo one is infallable and even the most confident people have days when they feel deeply insecure. You can't stop your feelings! What body positivity does, though, is that it doesn't punish you or your body for feeling this way, it embraces it as part of the journey. Again, this might not be reflected in the majority of your Tumblr dash if you follow some body positive tags, but believe me, the "all loud and confident all the time" version of anything neglects to take into account the part where we falter and take some time to heal and feel better. When you're feeling insecure, it's time to love yourself in a way that doesn't have to do with your body and be patient until you feel better. Everybody gets insecure.Source: iStock
Body Positivity Isn't For MenOkay, hello. Men are also held to unrealistic standards based on toxic masculinity. The patriarchy hurts everybody. The "ideal man" has to bulk up, be ripped, and super strong. The hyper masculine man is viewed as being the best man - whatever that means - and as the default idealized version of what men should be, harms everyone who's compared to it. Men are targeted by the media using this ideal as something that's aspirational. Men's body image is effected by their race, sexuality, where they're from, and the culture they're brought into just like women have to. The male gaze burns both ways, even if you are, you know... male.Source: iStock
Body Positivity Is Only For Fat GirlsBody positivity is for everybody! Fat, short, skinny, tall, disabled, literally everybody. Get it? Of course, fat positivity exists within the umbrella of body positivity (fat bodies are, after all, bodies), so I get how people can get confused. But, you know how squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? It's like that. They might need different kind of attention and fight the system at large in a different way, but everybody has a place in body positivity. If you've ever felt less than because somebody or something made you feel bad about your body, you can rage against the system and radically love yourself with the best of them.Source: iStock
You Have To Love Yourself As You Are Right NowSelf love is a journey and it doesn't happen overnight. You don't have to love yourself or have moved on from fighting your own demons in order to say that all bodies are worthy of love and respect. That's what body positivity is at the roots. And you know what? You can still work out, try to lose weight, try to gain muscle, get plastic surgery, get piercings and tattoos, and still be body positive! Who knew? Bodies are rad. They can do and be many different things to as many different people that have bodies (aka everyone). Feeling like your body isn't so great doesn't mean that it's not worthy of love and respect and feeling like you want to make your body greater (whatever that means to you) doesn't have to be bad.Source: iStock
Body Positivity Is Irrelevant Because It's What's Inside That CountsYou're right. Everybody should value people for who they are instead of what they look like. However, in a world where bodies are valued on a sliding scale based on however much they conform of defy societal norms and the level of their perceived desirability, body positivity is going to be completely necessary. It's not fighting against a system that doesn't exist or being contrary for the sake of being contrary. It's real! Shaming people's outsides actually effects their insides, so you see, this arguement people use agaisnt body positivity is in fact, a circle.Source: iStock
What do you think about body positivity? What are the weirdest stereotypes you’ve heard about it? Do you think any of them are true? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.