The Body Positivity Movement Leaves Those Who Need It The Most In The Dust

The Body Positivity Movement Leaves Those Who Need It The Most In The Dust

Activism can never be truly powerful or significant unless it's accessible and applicable to everyone.

I've been thinking a lot about body-image and the various trends that aim to improve body image, specifically that of young girls.

And I started to wonder: why is it that present-day body positive feminist trends seem to rediscover parts of the female body as if we never knew they existed?

Seriously, it seems that every day the internet discovers something “new” about women’s bodies that have, indeed, been there since the dawn of time. Like suddenly, someone woke up and looked at their hips and went, "Oh my god, there's a gap there!"

Body hair, stretch marks -- you name it! Aspects of the female body that used to be considered unattractive, or at least not ideal, suddenly become symbols of pride, strength. Even power.

The people who start these trends aim to reveal the truth that these qualities on a woman are not inherently unattractive, but simply natural, and should be treated as such. "Real women have stretch marks ––real women have curves–– real women don't shave." These ideas are often presented as feminist but they serve only to exclude many women from this depiction of "realness." If you remove your stretch marks or try to get rid of them, or shave your legs, you're weak for falling into the "traps" of a patriarchal society aimed at destroying women's self-esteem.

Well, I take issue with these "trendy" rediscoveries of the natural female body. Not only do I feel that they exclude women who do not have them as not "real," but they are only seen as attractive on women who already fall into otherwise conventionally attractive body types.

See: thin. And most of the time, white.

I noticed this trend and decided to test it on good old Google Images. I started with body hair.

I looked up "woman with body hair" and found an array of smiling thin girls with nose rings showing off their multi-colored underarm hair. These girls are "cool" for growing their body hair out because they're otherwise "pretty" and do trendy things like dye their armpit hair and get nose rings. It's a trend for them. Also, they're almost all white.

Then I looked up "black woman with body hair" and was pleased to find a few pictures of gorgeous black women showing off their underarm hair, although of course, they were thin. I was upset to find, however, that most of the photos on the page are of black women showing off their head-hair clearly styled with relaxers, weaves, or other unnatural methods aimed at erasing their blackness -- which is another problem altogether, which is worlds more messed up and complicated than the subject of this article. It makes sense that black women would feel less inclined than their white peers to show off their body hair -- they aren't even encouraged to show off their natural head-hair!

Finally, I looked up "fat woman with body hair." And found: nothing. Well, not nothing exactly: I found a lot of photos of beautiful fat woman. But none of them had any body hair. The trend of showing off the underarms just doesn't extend to fat girls yet. As for reasoning? It'd be nice to sit around and try to figure this out from an academic standpoint, but let's be real: everyone would assume a fat girl with body hair was just too lazy to shave, just like we assume her size is due to laziness.

It worked the same way when I searched stretch marks, –– mostly thin and mostly white. Although I do have to say that much more black women showed up when I searched for them specifically, and larger women as well. My only issue is that, when you look up black woman with stretch marks, it's almost always in black and white, whereas white women with stretch marks are typically depicted in color. I don't know if this is because of dislike of black skin tones, or just because darker skin looks super metallic and shiny in black and white (which it totally does!). The black and white tone also diminishes the appearance of the stretch marks, though, which is a little counteractive in my opinion.

Obviously, if you look up "fat woman with stretch marks," you'll get results, since stretch marks have always been a main target of fat shamers. But still, I was disappointed that most of the images were, again, of skinny girls. The post is about stretch marks! Yes, people at any size can have stretch marks, but it's women who have had children and gained weight that have been historically shamed for them! All of the images of women showing off their stretch marks in confident poses are of thin women. They've basically become a symbol of pride for women who are thin to reclaim that one "unattractive" part of their bodies. For women who are already fat to begin with? Try as we might, I think they'll always be a source of shame.

The latest trend that really irks me is "hip-dips," which became popular on Fitness Instagrams over the summer. Hip dips are when there is an inward gap between where your legs (hips) and torso (pelvis) meet. Here is a picture of hip dips:

These hip dips ––the ones on thin, fit people–– are archetypal of what was displayed all over Instragram this summer. Hip dips created by belly fat, however, were never glorified or even acknowledged. Seriously, I can't even find any pictures of women with hip dips from belly fat. And I know they exist, because I have had them before!

Body positivity movements really serve to make people who have mostly conventionally attractive bodies to feel even better about themselves. The people whose bodies are actually targeted by shame are usually left on the sidelines.

And I'm sorry, but I don't buy the sudden "self-love" of body parts that have been the same way forever. It’s like these people sit around looking at their hips, and then all of a sudden realize, to their own amazement, that there is a large crevice there.

There’s been a space on my hips for years. I never hated it. Now all of a sudden it’s sexy? I just don’t get it. Maybe I've just never been taught to love it. Or maybe, hip dips aren't really the part of the body that people are most ashamed of, and they're being glorified because they skirt around the real issue. Or maybe it's the fact that none of the hip-dips people are so in love with look anything like mine.

Activism can never be truly powerful or significant unless it's accessible and applicable to everyone. Give me real women. And by real women, I mean women of all shapes and sizes.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram | @thesassytruth_

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To All Of The Fat Womxn And Big, Beautiful Femmes Out There

You're beautiful, no matter what they say.

I am fat.

I have been fat since middle school.

But you know what? I am also beautiful. I am cute and sexy and radiant and gorgeous and confident and lovely and so much more.

While being a beautiful and fat femme might seem contradictory, it really isn’t; you can be both. Sadly, society still excludes fat womxn and femmes (especially fat womxn and femmes of color) from the standard narrative of what ‘should’ be considered beautiful, which is not only incorrect but also harmful.

On that same unfortunate note, so much of our self-worth can be tied to what others believe and say about us, not what we think about ourselves. Self-love isn’t something that fat womxn and femmes are allowed to feel, principally toward our physical bodies. In a world in which female-identifying people are already constantly pressured and judged for their appearance, it becomes even tougher for those not within the ‘average’ size.

Body positivity for fat femmes is constantly bombarded with hate. People comment how because these people are comfortable and confident in their own skin, they’re promoting unhealthy lifestyles.

This, however, couldn’t be any further from the truth. Fat people can, shockingly enough, be healthy. There are a myriad of reasons why they are fat, and firstly, you can’t always tell why, and secondly, fat people shouldn’t have to constantly give out this very personal information to literally justify to others why they exist as they are.

Fat people, by sharing their personal journeys to better caring for and about themselves, are being healthy. Self-love is healthy. When you love yourself, your perspective on life changes - your thoughts about you and others become more positive, and you feel happier and healthier.

Hating yourself or others is so much more mentally and emotionally exhausting than showing your love. Hate becomes such a burden, one that can be hard to shake, that it becomes considerably more unhealthy than the ‘unhealthy lifestyle’ that people assume fat and self-loving, self-confident people are ‘promoting.’

I am proud to call myself fat. I am proud to call myself beautiful. I am proud to call myself fat and beautiful.

Fat is no longer a negative word to me. I know I am fat, but I try not to let that define whether or not I feel good about and especially whether or not I take care of myself in a healthy way. If someone says or thinks that I’m fat, so be it. Again, I am fat. However, I am learning not to associate fatness with ugliness; there are stunning fat womxn and femmes everywhere, and it’s time to recognize that this old, sexist, fatphobic paradigm is wrong.

Before I conclude, I want to turn my attention to all of the other fat womxn and femmes out there:

If you’re reading this and in case no one has told you this today: you are beautiful.

If you have thick thighs, you are beautiful. If you have wide hips, you are beautiful. If you have a large butt, you are beautiful. If you have a soft belly, you are beautiful. If you have a saggy chest, you are beautiful. If you have big arms, you are beautiful. If you have a double chin and chubby cheeks, you are beautiful.

If you have plump ankles and wrists, cellulite, stretch marks, and/or anything else you feel self-conscious about, you are beautiful.

You may not feel this way now, but please, tell this to yourself every day. You will start to believe it the more you say it, and one day, you won’t even have to consciously do this. You will become confident, happy, motivated, and comfortable with the ornate, unique, and breathtaking temple you inhabit, and it will benefit you greatly.

From one fat femme to another, yes, you are beautiful.

Cover Image Credit: Image by Tiffany Bailey via

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It Has Taken Me 20 Years To Learn That Confidence Isn't Something That Is A Result Of Our Outward Appearances

The number on the scale or number of Instagram followers you have means absolutely nothing.

It has taken me 20 years to learn that being confident isn't something that happens when you reach a certain weight.

It has taken me 20 years to realize that being confident isn't something that happens when you start dating the guy you like.

It has taken me 20 years to learn that there isn't anything that is going to magically change my outward appearance and make me a super confident person overnight.

Even if I had the ideal body, even if I got that scholarship, even if I was married, even if I had my dream job, even if my Instagram feed looked flawless, even if my health and fitness routine was on point, I probably would still feel insecure.

And this is why...

As human beings, we do this thing where we pick ourselves apart when we look in the mirror.

(This isn't just a female thing either, I am willing to bet some guys out there do this too!)

Then we log onto any social media platform imaginable and we search and compare our lives to those we follow.

We search for something to make us feel tremendously confident and when it fails, we just suck it up, remind ourselves that society preaches the phrase, "love yourself" with flying colors and march on.

Lately, I am learning that confidence isn't something that comes from a number on a scale.

Confidence isn't something that comes from a certain number of followers.

Confidence comes from trusting that there is a God out there who loves me even when I am my least confident, trusting that even at my lowest, even when I run far, He has and will love me anyway.

Now trust me, this confidence doesn't necessarily mean that I am content with where I am at with my body, or with my career, or with anything else. But this confidence reminds me that someone out there has changed my life and made very beautiful things out of a very messy girl's life.

This confidence reminds me that though I have sat in the shadows of silence and shame and loneliness, I don't have to do that anymore.

So sure, I don't have toned arms or Carrie Underwood's legs.

Sure, I don't have the best hair in town or the Instagram worthy relationship.

Sure, my lanky arms still seem too long, my fluffy hair still is hard to tame in humidity, and sure I still struggle with comparing myself to every other girl I walk past.

But, I'll take knowing that all of this is a work in progress.

I'll take knowing that thank the good Lord, I don't have to sit in hurt and pain and suffering.

I trust in knowing that there is a God out there that can and will work in the brokenness in me and make it something new.

I don't know your walk in life. I don't know if we share the same beliefs. But I do want to share this with you.

Regardless of if you are filled to the brim with confidence or lacking self-esteem like no other, you are loved.

Whether you are running in full force away from anything you have ever believed, running full throttle after Christ, walking through a time of deep depression, feeling like you are drowning in anxiety, feeling like you have things under control on your own, or feeling like your life is a mess, you are loved.

And no, there isn't a number on a scale that will tell you that.

There is not a number of followers that will show you that.

There is no dream job that will tell you that.

But at the end of the day, when all of those things may not be there to tell you that, you can rest in knowing that your identity is not in those things.

You can know that you were made in the image of a God who LOVES you and that is pretty rad my friends.

Maybe you have heard this a thousand times or maybe you are hearing it for the first time right now, but regardless of if we share the same religion, regardless of if we are the same color, age, height, shape, gender, or anything else, you are loved.

There may not be something in this world that will flip the switch on your confidence and make you feel like "a million bucks" but knowing that you are loved is a pretty dang good place to start.

I would encourage you to take a look at those around you and remind them that they too are loved.

I would encourage you to rest in knowing that there is someone out there who loves you far more than you could ever comprehend, grasp, or imagine.

Cover Image Credit: Shannon Haupert

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