THE NEED TO PUSH FOR A MORE INTERSECTIONAL MOVEMENT
It has come to seem that the body positivity movement is solely a movement based around the idea of accepting and loving your own body. Whilst this fits into part of the conversation, it is not the whole of it. The body positivity movement is inherently political and there has been a lack of conversation in how politics fit into the movement.
If the whole conversation is centered around our own struggles with body image, the fight becomes individualistic rather than collective. While body image conversations are vital to our acceptance of our own bodies and are important and valid to the movement, they often stray from the fight from all bodies being accepted.
This individual mindset skips the important conversations on how current politics fit into the movement and separates body positivity from politics completely. This is a disservice to the fight for all bodies.
We need to address the forces at play that influence how people look at their bodies, and that is not just fatphobia and diet culture. Those forces also include racism, ableism, ageism, transphobia and queerphobia. Yet those forces are often left out for the more palatable image of white, straight, able-bodied women. Facing this truth is vital for the body positive movement to become more intersectional and truly accepting of all bodies.
Racial inequity is closely related to body positivity as Black, Indiginous and people of color are being targeted based on the color of their skin. Movements like Black Lives Matter are inherently linked to the body positivity movement as they are fighting for acceptance of their bodies and to dismantle the systems in place that are suggesting that Black bodies are not worth as much as White bodies. This connection needs to be addressed in order to achieve true intersectionality.
What also needs to be addressed is the politics of healthcare. For years people have experienced weight discrimination by healthcare professionals. In some instances, to the extent that doctors will refuse to treat a patient until they lose weight. This idea that weight is a direct signifier of health is incredibly harmful and untrue, it is also putting people’s lives at risk. Lizzo is an excellent example of how larger bodies can be equally as healthy and even healthier than thin bodies.
How bodies are viewed and treated is directly related to discrimination experienced worldwide. As a society we need to educate ourselves on how and why we view some bodies as less worthy compared to others and learn to view and treat all bodies with equal love, respect and acceptance.
There has been a shift into a more intersectional body positivity movement with movements like The Body is Not An Apology taking the forefront and truly fighting for all bodies. With luck, other body positive movements will follow suit and ditch conventional images of white, able-bodied women for a more inclusive and intersectional image.