Let's talk about the body positivity movement. When I say the body positivity movement, what I really mean is the body types that have been left behind. Those of us who do not fit into either "plus-sized" or "skinny" seem to find ourselves in a very strange place as this movement becomes more and more widespread.
We watch beautiful, bodacious babes pose proudly on the glossy covers of Sports Illustrated and other major publications known for their preference for extreme photoshopping and tiny models. We "share" and "like" posts on social media declaring that both large-bodied women and slim women are attractive and healthy in their own ways. Sure, we agree that health is not determined by a collection of numerals that pop up beneath our toes on a scale; certainly, we understand that our bodies should not be defined by the number of rolls (or lack thereof) we have neatly tucked between our waistbands and our bras.
However, there are little to no statements made to support those of us who do not fall into the two main body type categories. I mean, honestly, besides the whole "all sizes are beautiful" trope, no one really addresses all of the shapes and sizes that fall between curvaceous and slender. Polite euphemisms aside, we aren't discussing the girls who are neither "fat" nor "skinny." Moreover, those who do not fit into these categories very rarely fit into the current body trends.
Our society loves trends. We love to pick one and enforce it on ourselves and others. Fashion icons and designers have a penchant for choosing an "ideal body" and focusing all of their efforts on that single body type. As we all know by now, that body type has been incredibly thin and perfectly tan. I will say that there has been a significant shift, and it seems like now my newsfeed has done away with all of the thin models in favor of extremely fit young women. The emphasis has shifted from tiny torsos to ripped arms and huge, fit butts—but that's an another topic entirely.
The issue for many of us women is this: we want to take part in the body positivity movement, and we do. We attempt to support each other and promote self-love. However, there are few voices lobbying for the girls who are just flabby enough to not be labeled "skinny," but not quite curvy enough to fall under "plus-sized."
This issue occurred to me recently, when I was reading yet another article about a woman learning how to love herself for who she was. She, too, commented on the fact that her body is not one of the two common body types that we normally see people defending. She, too, felt left out. As I read her story, I realized that I, also do not seem to fall under a neat label. When I want to join in the conversation for body positivity, what can I say? "Yeah, and also the middle-sized women!"
So, I really investigated the issue. I read a lot of articles on the subject of body type acceptance and I searched through the comments. I rejoiced with women who were learning how to love themselves, and I felt deeply sorry for those who cannot seem to get to a place where they can celebrate their shapes.
My conclusion was this: in order to truly promote body love we need to stop labeling ourselves. In our desperation to support both ends of the spectrum, we've effectively labeled ourselves and set up camps: Camp Curvy versus Camp Lean. Unfortunately, all that we've managed is to promote self-love amidst an undercurrent of competition and comparison. Instead of simply supporting each other for the fact that we are alive and able to use our bodies to do what we love, we have created labels and slapped them on each other.
No matter what we do, there will always be those who will judge and disparage us for the way our bodies look. We will face people in our lives who disapprove of our eating habits, outfit choices, and appearances in general. The answer to that problem is not to develop our own labels and force everyone to try and fit into one group or another.
The answer is to completely stop trying to define our bodies using labels designed to describe our shapes.