If you’re active on social media, you will no doubt have seen the standard image: an influencer with her belly contorted in such a way that one skin fold is front and centre of the frame. Her caption reads: we are MORE than our BODIES, an emoji or two is placed either side. The hashtags include #bopo and #selflove and comments include “QUEEN” and “I’m so proud of you” by fellow average bodied influencers.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this image. I’m so happy that women are being encouraged to embrace themselves, love their cellulite, excess fat and loose skin. But if this is what body positivity has become, I want no part in it.
For me, the movement has been co-opted in order to sell me something. “Love yourself” I’m being told by these gorgeous women who are the average UK size, wearing something “inclusive” by a brand whose plus-size range often doesn’t fit my frame. All the while I witness comments almost daily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that my body is cancerous, a drain on society and something to be ashamed of.
The truth is, body positivity has grown far beyond its roots. Stephanie Yeboah sums it up perfectly in her post for Stylist.
“…body positivity has a subversive history. It originated with the fat acceptance movement of the Sixties, which aimed to combat anti-fat discrimination and to celebrate and inspire the validity and acceptance of fat bodies. In the US, this resulted in the creation of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to combating size discrimination.”
The entire basis of the #bopo industry today is all because of fat people, so why do I feel as though fat people are being pushed aside? I’m clearly not the only person who thinks this either.
Obese people have every right to the #bopo movement, but the more brands I see using size 14 influencers in their inclusive campaigns, spouting “self-love”, the less I want anything to do with it.
Fat acceptance is a movement I will always support above body positivity, and this is because it won’t be coerced or created or moulded into something that can be sold back to us.
Fat people exist! We can be at peace without dieting, living our lives as we want, without any need to push a marketed image of ourselves on social media. There is still so much stigma around weight and these are the things I would prefer to be concerned about over naff marketing campaigns.
Fat people have a right to everything an average person does, without judgement or hate, and that is why fat acceptance is more important than body positivity, because we’re still not there. We still have a long way to go in terms of stigma, and we still face hatred in medical, work and friendship environments. We have to do more all-round, and I believe fat acceptance is the movement to tackle these issues.