Is Body Positivity Only For Certain Bodies?
I was browsing Instagram recently and I came across a video from a model that I follow who was showing her body in a pose, compared to a relaxed state. Granted, there was not much difference in her body between the two poses as she has an incredibly thin and toned body, however, she was still trying to prove that the images you see on social media are not always a true representation.
I looked at the comments and was completely shocked to see that the majority of them were angry and hurtful, telling her that she had no right being part of the body positivity movement because she was thin. Hundreds of commenters told her she was being harmful by showing her body, and she was, in fact, giving a false representation of what women actually look like to younger girls.
They believed that her very real body was a false representation and harmful purely because she has the frame that many aspire to have. No matter if she is a size 0 or a size 20, her body is real. She cannot provide a false representation when she is simply showing herself in her natural state.
The people commenting which seek to spread the message of body positivity and kindness were actually shaming this woman for how she looked. If she had been larger, their comments would appear obscene and cruel. Yet, because this woman has a slim figure, these activists feel it is okay to tell her she doesn't belong in the body positivity movement.
In the Collins dictionary, body positivity is defined as ‘the idea that people should feel happy with and proud of their body, whatever shape or size it is’. yet, these activists who are claiming to exhibit the ideology that all bodies are beautiful, are shaming this woman for being thin. The body positivity movement says that ALL bodies should be accepted, not only those that don't fit against the ideal model.
It appears that this movement has become rather hypocritical and strayed from its original message. Whilst this model had a body which most would define as desirable, she still has to face reading hundreds of comments that are berating her for showing it.
They are telling her that posting pictures of herself online is harmful because she has an ‘unrealistically perfect’ body, however, it is actually these comments that are harmful. She will now see her figure, that she has probably worked hard for as negative because it apparently sends a harmful message to impressionable girls. She will more than likely hesitate before posting pictures of herself where she looks great, in the fear of receiving the same angry backlash.
I have collected some quotes from some of the comments that appeared under her video, to highlight how toxic they are:
‘You look the exact same. This won't help so many girls who will hate themselves for not looking like you when slouched. Be more humble’.
‘Girl?? This is insensitive and it’s not the purpose of this challenge. You’re supposed to be showing off your rolls’.
‘I don't mean to disrespect you, it's just that thin people don't get to represent the body positivity movement’.
I have now since seen that this model has deleted the post and has issued an apology, stating that she merely wanted to show that she didn't always look like her posed photographs. Because of the hatred she received, she felt obligated to delete an innocent post.
Slim people should not feel the need to hide their bodies in the fear that they will be told they are being harmful or arrogant. Slim people should not be told to be ‘humble’ when they post an image in which they feel great.
Yes, naturally slim people are very lucky to look the way they do when so many work so hard to have a body like theirs, but society should not make them feel guilty for looking the way they do.
I have always had a naturally slim and petite frame and due to having a high metabolism, I don't have to put in a lot of effort to maintain my figure. I eat well and do some exercise, but I am aware that I have been blessed with a figure that many would wish for. Yet, in the past, I have been made to feel guilty for the way I look.
I have had friends who tell me I have no right to feel insecure or openly show resentment towards me for being slim. So much so, I often hesitate when choosing what to wear around these friends, because I worry that I will be shamed and made to feel guilty if I am wearing something that accentuates my figure.
Whilst I am aware that my metabolism does make me privileged and I should feel thankful, I am also aware that I shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for something that I cannot control.
I am plagued with insecurities, not just about my body shape, but about certain features or odd-looking birthmarks that I believe make me hideous. I know that I should feel lucky to look the way I do, but it isn't always easy to wholeheartedly believe that. Self-image and perfection is an entirely subjective thing and can alter at the click of a finger. I am not exempt from insecurity or bouts of self-hatred, just because I am someone’s idea of an ideal body type.
People are often very quick to judge someone, without considering what goes on inside someone's mind behind their image. When you tell a slim, beautiful woman that she will ‘never know what it feels like to hate herself’, or tell her that she has an unrealistic body type, you might not know that she battled with an eating disorder. You might not know that she has a condition where she cannot put on weight.
Just because someone appears to be your idea of ‘perfect’, doesn't mean that they see themselves in the same way. If we are to continue the body positivity movement, we must stick to it’s intended ideology. We must spread the message that all bodies are beautiful.
In an effort to make those that might not fit the set-out standard of beauty feel positive, we have completely gone the other way. We have now begun to shame women who fit the original standard of beauty and regard them as unrealistic.
The idea is now perpetuated that only women with cellulite or stomach rolls are ‘real women’. All women are real women, despite how they attained their figure. If we are to spread positivity, we must do it for everyone. We cannot be selective of who deserves to be part of the movement, as this movement was created to be inclusive of everyone, no matter their size.
Yes, we should not be promoting extreme diet culture to impressionable people, however, some women are naturally slim without any effort. Some people have become slim from illnesses or mental disorders. Should we tell these people that they shouldn't celebrate and exhibit their bodies?
People with bodies that do not fit the societal ideal model have been oppressed and shamed for years, and it is finally time for them to fight back and gain acceptance. However, this should not happen at the detriment of skinny people. Whilst slim people do have certain advantages in the world, they should not be berated by activists for being their natural selves.
I will repeat, that we never know what is going on in a person's life behind their exterior image, and shaming someone for being slim may have an impact on their mental health. Let us strive towards a world where we can all love and celebrate each other despite how we look, and accept whilst one person may appear to be your idea of perfect, they might not feel that way themselves. A movement that is based on inclusivity, should not be exclusive to a certain body type.