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It’s Not Body Positivity Without Size Diversity
By Ghia Vitale
Body diversity involves embracing all variations of the human body instead of exalting one as “perfect” or superior to others. That includes embracing fat bodies of all shapes and sizes. Size diversity is a necessary component of body diversity. Thus, it’s also an essential component of body positivity.
What is body diversity? Let’s break down the word. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of the word “diversity” is “especially: the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.” Body diversity is the inclusion and praise of different kinds of body types, shapes, and weights. This includes bodies that belong to people of all races as well as people with disabilities.
However, body diversity isn’t complete without size diversity. Size diversity means including, respecting, and valuing a wide range of body sizes, especially plus-sizes. It means acknowledging that bodies of all sizes deserve representation, accessibility, and respect. Weight stigma is alive and well, which it is why it’s legal for employers to discriminate against fat people all states except Michigan and Washington. As such, there is a pressing need for size diversity and accessibility in media, commerce, and lives. The lack of extended plus size clothing and plus-size models being featured in fashion brand campaigns signal that there’s still a major need for size diversity on nationwide and global levels.
We live in a society that’s shaped by a culture that idealizes thinness. Our culture values thinness so much, it exalts the thin body as “The Perfect Body” or the only bodies that are worth flaunting at the beach. This culture also normalizes fatphobia by conflating fat bodies or even just the word “fat” with negative character traits such as laziness, greed, lack of self-control, and more. Body diversity rejects this thinking in favor of the notion that all kinds of bodies are worthy of love, respect, and inclusion. Wild, right?
In other words, according to the body positive mindset, any body is a beach body as long as it’s at the beach!
As many of you know, I am active in the body positive community and, more specifically, the fat positive community. Fat positivity is a crucial aspect of body positivity, yet I see so many self-identified “body positive” people trying to distance themselves from fatness. I’ve even seen some #bopo people say that simply being fat isn’t body positive, but the diet industry is body positive. This thinking perpetuates the toxic diet culture that’s fueled by fatphobia and capitalism, which is the opposite of body positivity. This mindset is complete and utter bullshit that further displays how deeply people have been conditioned to associate diet industry propaganda with health and moral goodness.
Body positivity without body diversity—which includes size diversity—is incomplete. It fails to acknowledge an entire range of human bodies that you share an entire world with. Only acknowledging and respecting straight sizes is a manifestation of fatphobia and weight stigma. (Straight sizes are the non-plus sizes sold in most stores.)
What good is body positivity if it’s a bunch of thin women in their underwear, hunching over to make it look like they have rolls? People deem thin body positive influencers to be acceptable, but if fat women and femmes who have bodies with actual rolls of fat take pictures of ourselves in our underwear, we’re accused of “promoting obesity” and “unhealthy lifestyle choices.” Meanwhile, one of the main principles of body positivity is that people with all kinds of bodies deserve representation, respect, and inclusion. That includes fat people whether you like it or not. #sorrynotsorry
Face it: Your body positivity is bullshit if it doesn’t include fat positivity. If your body positivity is centered around idealizing thinness and equating health with moral virtue (A. K. A. healthism), it’s neither radical nor revolutionary because in no way does it threaten the patriarchal or capitalist systems that perpetuate the idealization of thinness and the myth of The Perfect Body. And we all know damn well that as far as Perfect Bodies are concerned, people use the word “perfect” as a synonym for “thin.”
Also, news flash: Fat people deserve respect, representation, and inclusion regardless of what their health is like. Body positivity is supposed to support people with marginalized bodies, not disrespect or exclude them, thereby contributing to our oppression. Using body positivity to promote the white, cis, heteronormative beauty standards is literally weaponizing body positivity against the people who need this movement the most.
Furthermore, body positivity that erases fatness plays into the oppressive line of thought that thinness is superior to fatness, so fat bodies should be as invisible as possible. Whether someone realizes it or not, endorsing body positivity without body diversity (which includes size diversity by default) promotes another common myth about bodies and health: the belief that thin bodies are inherently healthier and “better” than fatter ones. This simply isn’t true. Focusing solely on weight without regard for the other factors that play into one’s health is fatphobic and ignorant.
Learning about body positivity led me to fat positivity. Fat positivity led me to fat liberation and size diversity. My thinking transformed once I began to educate myself about fatphobia, diet culture, and the oppression that fat people face. Once I began truly embracing size diversity, I was finally able to experience true body love. The truth is that self-love is for everyone, including fat people. Body love is a form of self-love that everyone deserves, but few of us attain due to the overt and covert body shaming and fat shaming we experience. Opening up your mind and heart to body diversity won’t result in instant body love, but it’ll help you acknowledge a wider range of bodies as valid, beautiful, and worthy of respect.
Personally, I’ve found that embracing body diversity boosts my self-confidence and self-esteem more than anything else has. I’ve quit forcing my body to be something it’s not. Although diet culture tries to convince us of otherwise, the truth is that bodies would still be different even if we all ate the same thing. All body sizes are natural, so we might as well welcome size diversity as a reflection of humanity’s natural beauty.
Remember: There is no size limit to deserving respect.
Wanna support a size-inclusive fashion brand? Daily Ritual is a fashion brand that has plus size fashion along with extended plus sizes. Their sizing goes up to 7X. In fact, I’m wearing one of their dresses in the picture of me above. I recommend buying this dress because it’s super comfortable and stretchy. Wearing it almost feels like wearing a nightgown! If you purchase this dress through the Amazon affiliate link below, part of the profit will go to Quail Bell Magazine and it’ll help us continue creating content you enjoy. We're so grateful to anyone who buys through our affiliate links!
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