Recently, body positivity has been on an upward trend. Which, don't get me wrong, is wonderful! The fact that it's becoming more and more "cool" to be body positive and accepting of others is a great thing, and it means that we are getting closer every day to a world where everyone can feel comfortable in their own skin and walk through the world safely.
However, because of the growing popularity, more and more misconceptions about what it means to be "body positive" have arisen. And now, the term has grown to a point where it is being used too loosely, and even for profit in some situations. It's time to get more critical about what we deem is body positive.
So what is body positivity? It isn't simply accepting fat people or even promoting body confidence—it's much deeper and more complex than that. The most comprehensive definition of body positivity, in my personal opinion, comes from Corissa of Fat Girl Flow who states "body positivity is thinking critically about how we relate to our bodies within our society, and how to make that a more positive experience for ourselves and others."
So if you want to be truly body positive (yay you!), here are some ideologies and actions you should adopt in your life beyond simply using #bodyposi on your Instagram posts.
1. Stop propagating diet culture in every way, shape, and formGiphy
Diet culture, by nature, is not body positive, as it's main goal is to breed self hatred in people for profit. Yes, this means that it is paradoxical to want to lose weight intentionally and be body positive simultaneously. Breaking free from diet culture means the separation of yourself from the ideals that health is equated to thinness and losing weight.
2. Start thinking about the intersections of marginalized identitiesGiphy
Go onto the #bodypositive hashtag on any social media platform--I assure you that wherever you go, the majority of posts will be by white, cisgender, able-bodied women. However, different people with marginalized identities experience their bodies in the world in different ways. As a body positive community, we must think about ways we can be more inclusive and affirming of trans and non binary people, people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities.
3. Start making your language more inclusiveGiphy
In tandem with the last point, not everyone in the plus size, eating disorder recovery, or body positive community wants to be addressed the same. We need to look at how our language might be exclusive to many people in our community. For example, talking about "All my bopo girls!" when talking to the community excludes an entire population of non binary people and men.
4. Stop judging other people's sexual habitsGiphy
Body positivity means supporting sex workers, people who have sex all the time, people who never have sex and everyone in between. Shaming anyone for their sexual choices--or any choice they make for their body for that matter-- is not body positive.
5. Stop policing food and eating habitsGiphy
Different foods are not "good" or "bad"--food has no morality. Also, unless you are a doctor or a registered dietitian or nutritionist, it is none of your business what or how much someone eats. This mindset is incredibly dangerous for people with eating disorders and harmful for the general public as a whole.
6. Advocate for body positive mediaGiphy
Marginalized identities are grossly underrepresented in popular media today--we can change that just in the ways we consume and share media. Just by boycotting shows like "Insatiable" on Netflix or "The Biggest Loser," and opting for shows like "Dietland" on AMC or "Insecure" on HBO, we can make the first small steps towards big change
At the end of the day, if you want to go on a diet, you do you. Allowing other people to make whatever choices they want with their body is at the core of body positivity. However, don't do this and simultaneously claim to be body positive yourself. Simply posting bikini pictures or appreciating plus size fashion is not body positive, and it weakens the connotations of the movement every time someone claims it is.