It seems like everyone is offended by everything these days.
Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for you, I’m referring to cis-gendered, thin, white, able-bodied women who are currently getting all kinds of up-in-arms over what’s going on in the #BodyPositive community right now.
Shit, that’s you?
Well, listen up, friend. I was with you, too…for about 5 minutes.
Over the last few months, I’ve really tried to diversify my Instagram feed. I did this because of my own internal struggles as I’ve begun packing on the pounds due in part to a medication I’ve been taking for my depression, and my newly adopted #FuckDietCulture attitude.
I’ve unfollowed all of the accounts that made me feel like shit (re: model agencies, model pages, fitspo pages, etc etc)…basically everything and anything that perpetuates diet culture and insinuates what I or anyone else should look like.
Instead, I’ve begun filling my feed with amazing warriors who are clapping back against the patriarchy and all of these bullshit societal standards because they occupy more space than any of those industries allow. Thus, I came across the #BodyPosi movement, and I was in heaven! As someone who is in recovery for Eating Disorders, and who struggles with body dysmorphia (feeling like I occupy a larger body than I actually do), it was really encouraging and inspiring to see all these bad ass women who live in fat bodies TAKING UP SPACE and beating their chests and fighting against everything that works to keep them hidden. FUCK YES! Right?!
That’s when I noticed a lot of these new accounts I had followed begin to throw around “thin white privilege” and “thin white bodies” in rage-fuelled rants, that were followed by other women “YAS QUEEN”-ing and “SLAY”-ing in the comments, and y’all – I WAS OFFENDED.
“What the fuck? How can this community of love and acceptance be screaming so much hatred at me?! What the hell did I do?! I’ve been YAS QUEEN-ing and SLAY-ing in the comments like everyone else!”
I’ve seen a lot of women in my position who felt the same, but voiced those concerns in not-so-nice ways. I decided to do some research of my own, and it took all of about 10 minutes to realize what a fucking idiot I looked like in my own upset.
You know what I chose to do instead?
I shut the fuck up, and I listened.
Because when someone who has less privilege and visibility than you starts to tell you that you’re affecting them in a negative way, you step back and you fucking listen.
Because as someone who has experienced erasure within my own LGBTQ+ community as a Bisexual woman, when a POC/disabled/fat/otherwise marginalized woman is telling you that your actions are eliminating their visibility, you step back and you fucking listen.
Because when you can open any magazine and see your slightly chubby, yet still small, body represented on any given page, and there are women who are constantly under-represented or not represented AT ALL fighting out loud to gain that exposure, you step back and you fucking listen.
Because when you start to notice that the comments coming out of the discussions under #BodyPositivity are no longer parallel to the movement’s birth, but instead are centric around diet culture, “health”, and reduction of size equating to societal worth, you step back and you fucking listen.
Because when women in the #BodyPositive community are pounding fists and telling you that you have overtaken their space, the place (for some, the ONLY place) they had to go for safety, acceptance, love, support, and just general bad-ass-ery, you step back and you fucking listen.
I’m not sitting here saying that the things these women are saying are directed specifically at me; they’re not. It’s a collective, but I am still within that collective.
As much as I may not realize, or easily forget (because I am even afforded that privilege, too), I DO have a lot of privilege that yields me visibility above my minority spacing.
So, if you’re like me, and you get offended – get offended…but before you start spewing off what you think you know, read a few articles, talk to a few people. Your perspective will probably change, and if it doesn’t, maybe you need to sit down and ask yourself WHY.
There are other ways for us to participate in the Body Positive community. This doesn’t mean that your struggles are invalid, and this doesn’t mean that you can’t still speak about your own struggles. This simply means that we need to be more mindful of how we do so. It’s a shift in language. It’s allowing these Body Positive warriors to claim their space in the arena, while you cheer them on from the sidelines. It’s respecting your fellow sisters enough to afford them the same advantages that you experience every – single – day.
By stepping back, you lose nothing.
By stepping back, you pass the torch to those who truly deserve it.
Speaking of, here are some accounts that are worth noting, to get you started: