You’ve probably seen it. The word…the hashtag. You’ve seen it because we all have seen it. We scroll through our social network feeds and see the word BODY POSITIVE everywhere. We see this term so much, we question if we ourselves are…ya know… “body positive”.
As a woman who is considered plus size, I have felt pressured into beaming and boasting about being “that word”, and have even fallen into the pits of deception myself. You see, there are a few things we must identify before we even claim “that word”, because it validates the use to begin with.
Body positivism should NOT be for sale.
The fashion industry and the mass media gurus can turn anything into something and then turn that something into money. The plus industry alone is worth about 20.4 billion dollars to date, and within the last four years has grown by 3 billion. There is capitol in “loving your curves”. While brands are becoming more size friendly, understand it is the work WE put in as a “size culture” that prompted big brands to take note. Now that we have their attention, let’s continue seeking change. At the end of the day, it is our dollars they are getting, because we demanded clothing become more inclusive and fashionable. Without our money, there is no plus size market. Understand we sought and fought for change, but we are still paying for the war. Don’t let your growth in loving yourself be complete because a big brand finally decided to provide clothes for all sizes, and now claim this movement as their own. By all means, shop away; but understand this inclusive culture is not for sale.
You have always had the right to be “body positive”.
The ironic aspect in all of this is that we find ourselves captioning our photos with words of wisdom about loving ourselves, but who said we couldn’t in the first place? The geniuses behind the plus size retailers know we are a billion-dollar industry and the retailers feed into it so heavily that it’s almost a reverse psychological mess. We don’t have to fight others to allow us to love ourselves. We just need to fight the designers and brands. Force them to stop being so exclusive with trends, because there are women of all sizes that love fashion.
We need to fight the industry elites who put plus women into a box and think we deserve less than what’s on the runways. Who cares about the masses of people that equate weight to health? These same people that are so afraid of a few rolls and cellulite will overlook the generations of people that thrive on horrible junk diets and party drugs. You will not please everyone. Rest assured my love, you were always allowed to love yourself and you don’t have anything to prove.
There is STILL body shaming within the body positive community.
There is this common and amusing misconception that the body positive community is full of free birds, who pride themselves in shelling out compliments to like minded individuals. There is also this notion that all plus size women are automatically body-positive because of the mere fact they are bigger. WRONG. One thing I think is important to understand is that if we are going to create this sisterhood of women who want change, we must be mindful that body shaming does exist in this realm of people. Bigger women shame smaller “big” women, and vice versa. It’s sad, because it makes this alliance a little shallow at times, but if we have a concrete understanding of why we are even fighting to begin with, we can really get somewhere as a whole.
You don’t have to document on social media every time you work out.
This is self-explanatory. You don’t owe anyone anything. Your body is your sanctuary and just because you’ve been labeled “plus size”, doesn’t mean you must prove that you are aren’t or are better than the term. Being plus size isn’t a negative term, and you are more than welcome to be plus size and healthy at the same time. You don’t have defend your size for anyone.
I am 100% for the social media campaigns that represent being body positive and helping women find the confidence they deserve. What I am not for is something as serious as loving yourself being a trend that will eventually descend into the next bandwagon culture. I want women to really understand what they are fighting for and why they feel they need to prove themselves to everyone.
At what point in your life did it change for you? Why did you begin to feel less confident in yourself? Was it your own perception or others? What made you decide to become more confident from that first shift of negative self-image? Was it your own free will or were others pushing you? If it was not for the body positive movement, would you still be as confident?
My goal? To not use body positivism as a defense mechanism. It feels like at times, we scream about how much we love ourselves to deflect that we really have body issues deep down (hello… we all have our days), but we can’t show that because the trend right now is loving yourself. You do not have to shy away from the truth about how you feel but rather try and figure out when, where, and why your perception of yourself changed. I truly believe that if we are going to claim sisterhood in what we are doing, then we need to cut the body shaming out, and be clear about how we are going to transpire being plus size as a normalcy.
The worst thing we can do is fight, progress, and then play ourselves while brands and media are making money and exposure off us. If we are cement strong, we cannot be broken and we will then make a lasting change.
Like you, I would like to see Prada and Gucci tap into inclusivity, I would love to see mainstream magazines celebrating all sizes, retailers showing ranges of bodies so that women feel represented. Most importantly, I’d love to see women congratulating women; regardless of size. It’s important to love yourself, but it’s more important to understand why you felt you never could. While we are searching for all the answers, just know there are a lot of women out there that are fighting to make this body-posi journey, less…dense.
+ MODEL AND FASHION BLOGGER