Jill Grunenwald
Jun 27 · 5 min read

Over the weekend, a graphic began to circulate among many of the fat advocate influencers I follow online. Taken from Teen Vogue’s Snapchat, it shows a closeup of hands on a belly right above the headline MYTH: Body positivity is just for fat girls

Beneath that, the copy states “Some of the most vocal voices about body positivity are people who are plus-sized and female-identifying, and that leads to lots of people assuming that a requirement for being positive about your body or getting involved is that you have to be a fat woman or girl. This isn’t true.”

I will give credit where credit is due, because Teen Vogue is correct in stating that you do not have to be a fat woman or a fat girl to be involved in body positivity.

But you do have to be fat.

Let me repeat that: you do not have to be a fat woman or girl to be involved in body positivity but you do have to be fat. This includes fat women and girls, but also fat men and fat nonbinary individuals.

Body positivity is not the same thing as feeling positive about your body. This might seem like semantics, but it is the nuance at the core of the discussion regarding who gets to be body positive. Of course, everyone should be able to have a positive relationship with their body and nobody in the body positive movement is saying that thin people don’t get to feel uncomfortable in their body.

The difference is, if you are thin, no matter how bad your relationship with your body is and no matter how much of a bad body image day you are having, you can still walk into a doctor’s office and be treated for your symptoms. The doctor will actually listen to you and treat you. Fat people? We get told every fucking thing wrong with us is due to our weight. Broken ankle? Lose some weight. Headache? Lose some weight. Nosebleed? Lose some weight.

The difference is, if you are thin, no matter how bad your relationship with your body is and no matter how much of a bad body image day you are having, you can get on an airplane and not worry about the glares coming from people praying to whatever God they believe in that you won’t sit down next to them.

The difference is, if you are thin, no matter how bad your relationship with your body is and no matter how much of a bad body image day you are having, you can walk into a majority of clothing stores and find multiple articles of clothing in your size and at reasonable prices (aka, you won’t be taxed for being fat).

The difference is, if you are thin, no matter how bad your relationship with your body is and no matter how much of a bad body image day you are having, you can go into a gym free of fear that you’ll be laughed at or made fun of or have the Tanyas of the world thinking you don’t deserve workout clothes that fit.

The difference is, if you are thin, no matter how bad your relationship with your body is and no matter how much of a bad body image day you are having, you can still walk into a doctor’s office and be treated for your symptoms.

Body positivity is not about internal feelings regarding our bodies. Body positivity is about fighting back against external forces that systematically and continuously punish fat bodies. Body positivity is about speaking out against the unfair treatment of bodies that don’t fit the society standard of thinness. It is about recognizing that fat people deserve respect regardless of their weight and health and size.

Body positivity is not about self-love or self-acceptance. It is about creating a space specifically for fat people.

Instead, what we have now, is a movement being co-opted by white women who feel insecure. You are allowed to feel insecure in your body sometimes: nobody is taking that away from you. But we are telling you that this particular space is not for you. If you want to make your own space, go forth and prosper. But stop coming into ours and claiming it for yourself.

When we have these discussions about “all bodies matter,” it reminds me of this cartoon:

Right now, fat bodies are on fire. Thin bodies are not. Thin bodies are fine and will always be fine because they are society’s ideal. But fat bodies are burning and being ignored because thin bodies are distracting and taking all of the water and resources.

It is very important to talk about the fact that the body positive movement as we know it has its origins in the fat acceptance movement of the 1960s. The only reason the thin white women of Instagram get to pretend to have belly rolls in the name of “body positivity” is because sixty years ago, fat bodies fought for the right to have a voice.

But when fat people of 2019 speak out against the influx of thin women moving into our spaces, thin women get offended. They think we are telling them they don’t get to be body positive. The truth is, anyone can be body positive — as long as you are centering fat women rather than pushing them out of the very movement they started.

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emFATic

Accepting true-life stories from fat people of all genders, races, sexualities, and so on.

Jill Grunenwald

Written by

INTJ Slytherin Scorpio. The New York Times once called me “a stylish and sparkly writer.” My three favorite words are All Day Breakfast. www.jillgrunenwald.com

emFATic

emFATic

Accepting true-life stories from fat people of all genders, races, sexualities, and so on.

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