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Masking Body Shaming as Body Positivity

You’re damned if you’re too thin and you’re damned if you’re too heavy.

Jennifer Aniston said that circa 2010, after facing criticism from the media over her figure. Her words hit home on the reality of the society we live in: physicality and the idea of a so-called ‘perfect body’ are common obsessions that render us judgmental—interfering, even—towards other people’s physique. A change in mindsets is long overdue, and the existence of the body positive movement is certainly a step further in progress. With raised awareness on the warped beauty portrayal in the media and increased knowledge on physical health, more people are starting to accept their flaws, be proud of their bodies, and embrace themselves.

Body positivity encompasses all body sizes and shapes, and this includes curvy, fat, pear-shaped; those that usually do not fit traditional, narrow standards. People are starting to show love for these body sizes and shapes; fashion labels are becoming more inclusive, public figures have came forward to motivate people with their self-love, and more girls out there are comfortable in their own skin. However, there seems to be a drawback to the otherwise great development we are seeing here: some people are bringing up curvy bodies by tearing down thin ones. It’s becoming quite a recurrent thing:

  1. The ever-popular song ‘All About That Bass’ by Meghan Trainor. This one has been talked about and bashed extensively in the past, but it’s worth noting because it so perfectly embodies what masking body shaming is like. Initially the song sounds body positive, with its ‘every inch of you is perfect’ line and whatnot, but listening closely you’ll find the skinny body type to be ridiculed. There are just so many wrong things about this song, so I’ll just leave this here.
  2. Amy Schumer’s call out of Taylor Swift back in February. On Instagram, Amy posted a picture of herself in a bikini on the beach, captioned, “Taylor that’s not a thigh gap. This is a thigh gap.” Because obviously you can’t celebrate your own body without tearing down someone else’s.
  3. Comparisons between Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj following a performance of the two back in February 2015, in which they did several sexy dance moves. While Nicki and her voluptuous body were met mainly with praises, Ariana had to face a lot of comments that hate on her thin figure (‘What’s she shaking tho???’). Prompts to Ariana for the response that she gave: “I’m shaking my pretty, cute, petite ass next to Nicki’s pretty big booty. Both are awesome. How about we respect people’s body boundaries and encourage each other to feel like a babe no matter how they are?”
  4. Yet more comparisons between Nicki Minaj and someone who is skinny—this time, Giuliana Rancic. Pictures of both Nicki and Giuliana attending the 2015 Grammy Awards surfaced (wearing a skintight dress and black jumpsuit respectively), and social media was quick to comment. There was one particular tweet—now deleted—in which the two are compared; something in the typical lines of ‘me vs. the girl you’re seeing now’ (with Nicki being the first and Giuliana the latter). Women’s bodies are not up for comparison, and not to mention: Giuliana is someone who was diagnosed with breast cancer and had just undergone double mastectomy. Isn’t it kind of messed up to make fun of a person, post-cancer treatment, for the way their body looked—which had become something they couldn’t necessarily control?
  5. The recent comment made by Demi Lovato on Taylor Swift’s squad. In her Glamour cover story, Demi said, “I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body. It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like and what they should be like,’ Afterwards she continued by criticizing Taylor for her hit single Bad Blood, saying, “Having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down, that’s not women empowerment.” It’s kind of ironic and hypocritical, considering her own comment on Taylor’s squad tear down women, specifically those who are lean. Demi implied a slim figure to be not ‘normal’. Sure, in fashion and media so many girls go to extreme lengths to become skinny to the point that it’s unnaturally unhealthy, but in real life so many girls out there are naturally thin and they shouldn’t be invalidated.
  6. Common remarks that devalue thin bodies under the pretense of appreciating curvy bodies, like ‘real women have curves’, and ‘men love something to grab onto’, along with their varieties.

Bashing thin people is something that seems to be considered an acceptable normality, especially if it is in the case of celebrating fatness. This is faulty; the appreciation of one body type does not justify the devaluation of another. We can absolutely show love for girls with wide hips and a big butt without dismissing girls with a skinny torso and small chest. The act of masking body shaming as body positivity isn’t necessarily surprising or a great evil; we’ve always been thought that fat is bad, and skinny is good. Through the media, fashion, and entertainment we’re taught that our bodies are in competition; in order for one type of body to be celebrated, another must be considered bad.

The thing is, our bodies are not up for competition. Our bodies are unique and only our own to care for and embrace. There are so many body sizes and shapes out there; to pit one against another beats the whole purpose of body positivity. Body positivity means recognizing the beauty in all body sizes and shapes—those that don’t fit conventional beauty standards, and also those that do.

There needs to be a change in narrative. Whether you’re skinny, fat, have an athletic build or an hourglass figure: you deserve to embrace your body and treat it with care. You deserve to feel love or at peace for the body you have. And damn anybody who thinks otherwise.

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