Body Positivity

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melsbells
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Body Positivity

Post by melsbells » Mon Dec 12, 15:30 2016

I've been reading around on body positivity lately, and the more I read, the more I have no idea what it actually is.

Sometimes it seems like it's for all bodies. Sometimes it seems like it's only for bodies that deviate enough from conventional beauty standards. Sometimes it seems like it's only for fat bodies. Sometimes it seems like it's only for women's bodies. Often it seems anti-trans*.

My understanding is that the body positivity movement grew out of fat activism, but I can't figure out if there's anything akin to a mission statement. I can also see how that desire for the movement to be defined erases individual voices.

I have seen really moving pieces about hair, skin color, eating disorders, masectomies, amputations, war veterans, and size. (Sorry no links). Is thinking of all those things as body positivity diluting the actual movement? What is the actual movement?

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by Pikachu » Wed Dec 14, 0:34 2016

I have no problem with fat acceptance or body positivity as long as they also realize obesity is a disease and that they are not healthy. it's analogous to someone with liver disease who has massive fluid retention of the gut (ascites). They should not be shamed or ridiculed or disrespected for their appearance and they can feel or be artistically beautiful, but they are still sick. Where the body positivity movement loses most people is the denial of this reality while hypocritically demonizing the very thin and anorexia. News flash, you're both two sides of the same coin.

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Sonic#
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Re: Body Positivity

Post by Sonic# » Wed Dec 14, 8:52 2016

I've seen it mean different things from different people.

I see body positivity (including fat positivity, which I see as a branch) coming from feminists and health experts who saw that conditions like depression, anorexia, and bulimia often started in women who internalized unattainable bodily ideals. In response, body positivists challenged the societal preference for one body type (the "conventional beauty standards" you mention, melsbells) and encouraged people to accept and love their own bodies. In this version, the end goal is health. It helps me to think of this kind of health as touching the body and mind.

Would it help to ask not only what bodies it's for (that's a great question), but also why they focus on the body? Just thinking through a couple of examples I've encountered, that's where I see the most disputes. For instance, that's where focusing on some biological sex features in order to exclude trans* people would come in.

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by tomokun » Wed Dec 14, 17:00 2016

As someone who is overweight, I find the body positivity movement both confusing and gratifying. Ummm, fair warning, if you are triggered by an overweight person referencing themselves as fat... maybe don't read on, because that's what I'm going to do. I think it's unhealthy for me, to talk about me in euphemisms, and I have a lot to unpack about this issue.

I find the movement gratifying because quite frankly I am exhausted at people, especially strangers but more often than not loved ones, talking to me about my weight. As if I lived every day of my life not realizing I was fat, how unhealthy it was, or how inconvenient it is to be fat when I could be... less fat. Of course, I'm obligated to nod and smile while these well-meaning people tell me about the latest fad diet that helped them lose 5 lbs (ha! I lose that every morning right before I flush), or how easy it would be for me just to "change a few things". Because there's no way that having been fat all of my life that it never occurred to me to try and not be fat. God forbid I should cut those people off in mid-sentence... that would be RUDE. I might OFFEND someone who was trying to do ME a FAVOR.

On the other hand, I'm still fat. I find it a bit insulting to my intelligence this notion that I'm just as "handsome" as some dude that is ripped like batman and has abs that I could wash my clothes on. I've always been fat, and while I've always been annoyed at the idea that because I'm fat I can't get a date, in general, I've only found it to be as important in my life as the importance I've given it. The fact is, I'm popular with exactly the type of women that I want to be popular with - which is women that find me attractive. That's a lot larger than most people might credit me, but it's still small enough to sting when someone essentially patronizes me BECAUSE I'm fat. I tend to think most people are good at reading non-verbal communication, so while I don't want people to be rude, I don't want people to lie to me either.

In fact, the only thing that has really changed for me is that I get a few moments of, "Yeah, fuck those guys!" when I read a "my body is beautiful" peace. But I don't actually ever FEEL more handsome or attractive. I still feel fat, I'm just glad that someone else "gets it". Beyond that, life is pretty much the same. I try and lose weight because it is my eternal struggle, I fight the depression that sometimes comes up when I think about what I want to look like and compare it to the way I actually look, and I mostly focus on all the things that I actually AM that I wouldn't want to change for the world.

For me, being fat is not who I am, it's just a fact about myself that I'm not very happy about. Sometimes I think that the solidarity the movement offers is a trap... because it is my desire for things to be different than what they are that motivates me to change. Really, all I want is for other people to mind their own damn business about how fat I am unless I ask for their help or advice. That's not something the body positivity movement gives me... and I'm pretty sure the only person that CAN give that to me is myself.

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by Nech » Wed Dec 14, 18:12 2016

tomokun wrote:I'm obligated to nod and smile while these well-meaning people tell me about the latest fad diet that helped them lose 5 lbs
I hope this doesn't derail the main purpose of this thread, but as an aside I do not think you should ever feel obligated to listen to what anyone has to say or any tips they offer unsolicited. Now that being said, and do not feel obligated to even acknowledge this, if you want a diet (though it's more of a lifestyle) that helped me lose a ton of weight (around 50-100lbs) PM me if you wanna chat about it. I have some knowledge in this area that I'd be happy to help if I can/you want.

As for the actual movement, it does seem to me that there is a wide definition of what is covered or falls into the body positivity movement and I think it'd be helpful for the movement to be a little more precise in what it means. Even in this short thread we see several very different ideas as to what it means. I think the most important to clarify however is whether it promotes being healthy or not healthy. I've never seen it as promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, but many people I know or correspond with over the interwebs do think that almost exclusively and that single fact damages the movement the most.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So just shut up, and bring some water.

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by rowan » Wed Dec 14, 20:59 2016

Interestingly, being fat does not necessarily mean you're unhealthy. And it's definitely much more complex than just 'eat less, exercise more'. It's looking like some obesity may be linked to BPA exposure when young, for example and that's not really anything you have control over. And there certainly are genetics at play as well (I realized when I went abroad to one of the countries my family came from that hey wait all these people have the same bod shape as me)

As a "movement" I think it's less an organized thing and more of an amorphous bunch of people thing? Which makes it harder to define. But I think that people need to get over and past this fat means unhealthy BS, because you can be fat and healthy or skinny and unhealthy. I think also it can include all kinds of body image things that people get shamed for, particularly disabilities as well.
spacefem wrote:All your logical argue are belong to us!

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by Pikachu » Thu Dec 15, 11:41 2016

The science clearly shows the most you can be to still qualify as healthy is the "overweight" category. Life expectancy goes down in the obese range, obese either by muscle or fat. Doesn't matter. The heart didn't evolve to pump blood to 300 pounds + of human. That's the bottom line.

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Re: Body Positivity

Post by melsbells » Sat Dec 17, 16:46 2016

Thanks for the responses.

I still have a lot of mixed feeling about this movement. If it was clear that it was about fat bodies, then I feel like I could say, okay, all these other bodies can have their own thing and maybe I'd grumble to myself about the name and how fat activism was already a thing, but I could get behind the movement and support it. If it really was for acceptance of all bodies, then again, I feel like I could do the same. If it's specifically against some bodies (which at the moment I suspect is the outliers of the movement) then I'll vocally grumble about the name and certainly not get behind it. I've done this thing before, where I picked up a term that I found really useful, but quickly found out that my understanding of the term was outdated and that the term was actually fairly officially talking about something else When I first heard "body positivity" it seemed obvious to me that it would be about all bodies, but most of what I have read has been about fat bodies, so I was worried that I was co-opting a term to use it when talking about bodies that don't overlap with fat activism.

It's strange to me that this conversation immediately turned to health. A person's health can't be determined merely by looking at them. It's also strange to me to talk about fat as a cause of ill health when at least in some cases I'm aware of, it's an outcome of treatment. Pikachu hasn't claimed that all fat is unhealthy, but the immediate redirection of the questions from the original post makes me suspecious of what ze is hedging. If we include something like The SCAR Project, which I indirectly referenced earlier, in the realm of body positivity, then maybe it's easier to see that talking about health misses the whole point. Even if our bodies are unhealthy and cause us pain, we shouldn't hate them because they're doing their job, letting us know that something is wrong.
Sonic# wrote:body positivists challenged the societal preference for one body type.. and encouraged people to accept and love their own bodies. In this version, the end goal is health. It helps me to think of this kind of health as touching the body and mind.
But it's along those lines of loving your body as it is, where I've seen the anti-trans* sentiment come in and belittle experiences of gender dysphoria.

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