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_

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter To The Judgmental People In My Hometown

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value.

Dear judgemental, simple minded people from my hometown,

I am sorry that I have never met your level of perfection.

Coming from a small town, everyone settles to the norm of the people around them. Unlike you all, I have always been a little bit different.

I've never understood why everyone always seems to feel the need to talk down to the next person. People love to gossip about a situation as long as the situation has nothing to do with them. For every move I made, someone was always there to bring out the negativity in the situation. You all are always sweeping around somebody else's doorstep when I know your doorstep is not clean. Maybe it is time to buy a new broom. I know that I cannot please everybody and that I will also not be liked by everybody. However, I deserve respect just as the next person.

SEE ALSO: Forgiving Someone Who Didn't Ask For It

I hope for the sake of the future generations of our small town, you all can learn to be more accepting to change.

I hope that no one judges your children like some of you all have judged me. I hope that the people that you love and care about are welcomed and accepted for who they are.

If we put as much time into being better people or helping others like you put into judging others, the world would be a much better place.

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value. Pebbles are perfectly round. I'd much rather be a diamond, one in a million, than a pebble that fits in.


The one whose every move you criticize

Cover Image Credit: Haley Williamson

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

There Are Reasons, Dad, Why I Put Blemishes On My Perfectly Good Body

When covering up a tattoo becomes just as hard as covering up who you truly are.


My first tattoo run-in with my mother was simple, yet iconic. I was wearing khakis, rushing through the kitchen on my way to work when she asked, "Is that a permanent or temporary tattoo?"

I replied with, "Well, it's pretty permanent," and walked out the door.

First, Dad, I am sorry. I know how much you hate them, and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint you. The time has come where I traded in my Spongebob transient ones for something with a little more substance, and a little more burden. However, I didn't just get one to get one. It's not always as impulsive as a decision as many people imagine it is. My tattoos have meaning. They bring me back to who I am. They remind me of the things that are important, and sometimes I truly need the reminder. Tattoos represent the magnitude of forever and that is what people are scared of— things that last forever.

It may not be important to you, but it is to me. It is how I've expressed some of the most important things in my life, including ice hockey, the people who are no longer here to share my life with, and words that have gotten me through the absolute hardest of times. They are stuck with me, so they will continue to.

I was worried about how I will explain them to a child, a friend, a significant other, or an employer, but if my character and ability to be a mother, friend, partner, or employee doesn't speak for itself, I would rather not have those people in my life. My individuality and integrity will determine my ability to have a good influence, not the marks on my body. If my parents are so worried about it, they shouldn't have let me cover my face and body with butterflies and rainbows when I was young.

I live in the moment and tattoos are one of those things where I don't want something ridiculous permanently on my body, but I am not going to make a decision not to get one to prevent a hypothetical problem so far in the future I can't even foresee it. I may not make it there, and that isn't to say YOLO, but it is to say you never know what is going to happen to you.

As I have gotten older, more tragic things have happened. I have seen things I never thought I'd see, and I have done things I never thought I'd do (like getting a tattoo). But in the end, I know I am, just like Dr. Seuss, and if you bother to ask me what my tattoos mean, I will gleam as I tell you the whole story, because one icon, line, or word can mean that much.

To me, my tattoos are a message to my parents that I am growing up. I have experienced things that have shaped who I am so significantly that I felt compelled to draw them on the body they gave me. So, I didn't tell them. I waited for them to ask.

Related Content

Facebook Comments