The phrase #body positivity has been trending for a few years already. Actually starting in the 60s and becoming a social movement in 2012. I’m all about positivity and celebrating all body types, but when does body positivity turn into something negative?
As a kid I was tall and skinny, but when I hit my twenties I started to get curvier. I used to do beauty pageants and remember vividly when the hostess came up to me to ask if I knew why I didn’t won? I answered ‘ehm, maybe because of my legs?’ ‘Yes, exactly’ she answered with a straight face. My legs were too curvy for this contest. That was kinda harsh for a 20 year old girl and really set the tone for the beauty standard in pageants and beyond. I didn’t understand why skinny was apparently better.
After my 25th birthday, my body went a little bit downhill and I started getting heavier. I was never super overweight but I just gained fat in the wrong places, especially in my belly and legs. I learned that people can be ruthless, most of the times not even on purpose. I believe the worst thing you can ask a woman who’s NOT pregnant, if she’s pregnant. I honestly had three different people asking me this question. You just cannot ask someone you don’t know, if she’s pregnant, unless it’s totally obvious she is. That’s even a tricky question if you actually do know the person.
You just cannot ask someone you don’t know, if she’s pregnant.
The pregnant thing really hit me right in the gut (pun intended). I felt like a hippo, a pregnant hippo. A few years later I was heavier than my boyfriend. That sounds like I was huge, but I really wasn’t. I was just too curvy in all the wrong places and I wanted to be Beyonce curvy in all the right places! But the fact that I outweighed my bf, really triggered the ambition to lose a lot of weight. I started to eat healthier and work out four times a week. I lost 17 kilos within a year. Unfortunately I gained some weight again, because I quit smoking (yay!) So I’m still not really happy with the way I look now.
So this was a really long intro to the thing I actually want to talk about. I dance and take Vogue classes, which I really enjoy. A few days ago two girls came up to me and one told me that the Vogue scene needs more ‘big’ girls. ‘You know ‘body positivity!‘ she said enthusiastic. The two girls hugged me and walked away. That left me so confused and I thought about it for days. I didn’t understand it. I’m not super skinny, but I’m not a ‘big‘ girl either. So why did that girl feel the need to tell me that I’m ‘big’ in the most cheerful way possible? If her intention was to give me a compliment, saying that was really not the way to go about it.
It becomes a nasty thing to say, #bodynegativity if you will.
I really love the way the #bodypositivity movement embraces all body types and stirs up a conversation about the way we look at beauty. But sometimes I feel that this positive phrase is being misused. Although this movement also focuses on skinny people, I think #bodypositivity is mostly used to make bigger people feel accepted and beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing. But when you use this term to compliment someone who maybe isn’t ‘big’ but just a little curvier, it becomes a nasty thing to say, #bodynegativity if you will.
You never know what a person is going through. I might come across as confident and dance in a crop top. But it doesn’t mean that I am. It just means that I’m in a safe place and for an hour, I feel confident enough to show off my curves. But that’s not an invitation to comment on my body. A compliment would have been ‘you look beautiful’ or ‘I love the way you dance’. But this girl didn’t know if I’m curvy and proud or just curvy and not happy about it. It’s almost just like the pregnant question. Her ‘compliment’ left me feeling fat and confused. It was a compliment that wasn’t really a compliment.
It was a compliment that wasn’t really a compliment.
So what I want to say is: before you walk up to someone to ‘compliment’ him or her, make sure you know what you’re saying and how it can come across. This way you don’t end up hurting someone, because you never know the battles someone is fighting at that moment.