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Friday, April 15, 2016

Body Positivity Activism: Finding the Balance

“I am my own holy revolution, welcome to the church of my thunder thighs, I am awake and alive, I've come to wear all of the crop tops that the glittering world has to offer, I've come to dance the shame out of my childhood, I've come to win back my joy. You may not snatch it from me like a purse. I win whether I have a mouth full of pretzels or a mouth full of kale; you have not been granted the privilege to know how I consume my world and what makes me most delight in my skin. I will glorify the shit out of my body.” – Mary Lambert

I’m fat. Not in a self-deprecating, seeking-reassurance-of-my-beauty, feeling-bloated kind of way. I identify as fat as a reclamation of a slur, as a declaration of inclusive feminism, as a radical approach to bodily autonomy, as an insistence upon body positivity at all times...and because, well, I’m just fat! But mostly I identify as fat because loving myself and my body holistically is a revolutionary act in a world that commodifies self-hatred and insecurity, especially of women-identified folks. The diet industry has grossly profited off of the lies that femininity = thin and healthy = thin, and there is nothing more powerful than shouting back “YEP. I’M FAT. THAT IS MY WORD, NOT YOURS.”

I am also in recovery for an eating disorder. And I have felt the looks of betrayal from fellow fat-identified folks when I discuss what recovery and seeking holistic health looks like for me. Because “health” has been thrown around by fat-shamers and diet advertisements when what they really mean is a traditional western conception of thinness – of which some value above all else. But that’s not what I mean when I say I am seeking health. I seek balance, healing, and even more self-love for this body that has carried the weight of so much pain when my heart wasn’t able to. Body positivity is so good and so important – but not if you claim that term while you continue to police the behavior of others.

If you are a thin person who is curious about finding ways in which you can support fat folks, the beginning is in acknowledgement of an often overlooked fact: thin privilege is real. It is very real and very under-acknowledged. Thin privilege exists when you go to the doctor for a specific medical concern and the topic does not inevitably drift to discussions of your weight and weight-loss strategies (I’m lookin’ at you, OBGYN). It exists when you aren’t concerned about getting a job because your potential employer will automatically assume you are lazy just by your body type. It exists when you don’t have to worry about a stranger offering “helpful” suggestions about what’s in your shopping cart at the grocery store (yeah…it’s happened). And it exists in simply knowing that the clothes that you are interested in wearing will come in your size (whew, what a concept). Thin folks must acknowledge that thin privilege and the ways in which the body they exist in benefits them in more ways than they could ever imagine.

I need a feminism that is body positive, recovery positive, and bodily autonomy positive. This is your body – it is no one’s but yours. This is your heart, your lungs, your thighs, your belly, your hair, your skin – it’s all yours. You get to decorate it however you want. You get to style it however you want. And you get to decide what food nourishes it.

You are the world’s leading expert on your body and you get to decide what health and self-love looks like for you. Because above all, in all circumstances, the body is not an apology…

By: Margaret van der Bie

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