I often feel like I hear myself saying “that’s not body positivity”, and while I think it’s actually perfectly acceptable to criticise something without having a concrete alternative in mind, I do have a pretty clear view of what body positivity is. Not just ‘my’ body positivity, but what it should mean at the very roots.
As I perceive it, body positivity does not mean you are positive about your body, or positive about some bodies, or positive about the fact you have a body and aren’t a disembodied voice floating in the ether. It means radically repositioning how and what we think about which bodies are good and important and valid and worthy of praise. It means doing more than reinforcing the worth and validity of white, thin, cisgender, non-disabled bodies with no body hair or scars. It means reinforcing the worth of bodies that do not look or function like that, and refusing to strive for goals that necessarily privilege those categories, and more categories on top of those- they’re just some that came to mind very readily.
This is why body positivity should, no, must be a weight loss-critical space. Weight loss does not fit with body positivity because it reinforces thinness as a goal for bodies and rejects fatness. Importantly: all of this is done by our culture anyway. Lose weight if you want, for whatever reason you want, but don’t tell me I have to accept it as body positive. Weight loss and discussion of weight loss as a positive thing pervades and permeates so, so many domains of our lives, especially as women. Is it not totally reasonable to state unequivocally that body positivity is one space where it’s neither useful nor constructive to include it? I very, very infrequently describe myself as ‘body positive’ and instead prefer ‘fat positive’ but I’ve realised that in order for body positivity to be an intersectional movement that has truly useful aims that go beyond platitudes for the most privilege, I have to be part of a movement that highlights the areas where it’s failing and try to reformulate them. Destabilising thinness as a common aesthetic goal means rejecting weight loss as necessarily and intrinsically good, and should be a key part of any body positivity. Don’t tell me I’m body negative because I think it’s more important to praise and uplift fat bodies than massage the egos of people who are putting their energies into reinforcing cultural norms.
For body positivity to be useful and meaningful, it has to find ways to move beyond the very, very arbitrary categories of beauty and usefulness that our white western capitalist cis hetero patriarchy has pushed on us, not reinforce them.