Comments in Body Positivity

Recently I’ve seen a lot of posts on Instagram which has been making me think more about myself, body positivity, and society in general.

Last year I got more into body acceptance, followed many people on Instagram and Twitter who have learnt to appreciate themselves regardless of what size they are. They learnt to accept who they are and are unapologetic for it because they have no reason to be sorry for existing as they are. There are men and women out there who are challenging the social norm of body acceptance, they are saying any size that you are happy with for yourself is okay. They are taking  health out of the equation, they are showing that being a size 26 for example, doesn’t mean you can’t dance; they are saying don’t let your body weight hold you back from doing something you love. I’ve seen size 22’s doing yoga which made me want to start because I thought I was too big for it, it’s made me find a healthy outlet for stress and my anxiety. By them doing things others perceived as unconventional, it’s helped others become who they truly are and have come to love the curves, the cellulite, the thunder thighs, because it’s their own body and they deserve love it. Obviously if you are unhealthy, look after yourself, but the body positive movement focuses on your happiness with your body, on ensuring your mental health about your body is positive. As a wonderful hashtag says, “All bodies are good bodies“.

One of the things I love about the body positivity movement is the amount of women who show off their bodies, who aren’t ashamed of themselves because they have nothing to be ashamed of. I like to think I’m getting there as I show off more skin than I think I ever have before, not for anyone, just because I feel comfortable showing it off. Which is where Melissa (@yourstruelymelly) comes in and what’s led me to writing this post. She doesn’t know it, but she has helped me a lot. I’ve been trying to think of the best way to describe her, but the only thing I can think of is that she’s herself, and because of that she’s incredible in every aspect of the word. She fights for the body positivity movement, she fights for what she stands in, and personally, she helps show the good in humanity. I would highly recommend checking her out.

She recently posted a photo of herself in a mesh body suit, she’s celebrating herself, she’s embracing herself and she’s making it look amazing doing so. Unfortunately this is where the society aspect of this post come in, she asks politely that only women or other gender minorities comment, or that any CIS males (Cisgender; People whose gender identity match the sex they were assigned at birth; Males who were born male and identify as male) do no comment about her body.

What’s wrong with that request? The fact that it has to be there.

I could look on my own profile where I haven’t got photos of me in bikinis, rather of me fully clothed and see inappropriate comments about my body. I could look on any profile of the women I follow who embrace themselves, or even on profiles where they are dedicated to cosplays and see inappropriate comments about their bodies. As individuals we have a right to post what we want, to wear what we want in said posts, but what should not be seen as a norm or a right is for others to insult, objectify and abuse these posts in such a negative light, especially when posts are aimed at empowerment, embracing yourself and self-love!

It’s the fact that in society, it’s seems like it’s okay for anyone to comment how they want, even if it’s negative and outright ignores what the original poster wants. That’s what gets to me, because in her photo the amount of CIS males who disregard her request was insane. Some directly challenged her request asking why it’s not okay, others wrote inappropriate comments, one comment which got to me was claiming sexism. Was it sexist? No, she wasn’t demeaning CIS men, she was just asking them to listen. To give people who wouldn’t normally have a voice a chance for a safe space. To enable them to talk about embracing themselves without the comments of her body diminishing the impact of the positivity she aimed to support. Just because someone likes a photo, it does not mean that they have to comment inappropriate things, or even message said person to tell them exactly what they want to do to them. I’ve had that, I still have that, and as someone who is a daughter, a sister, a friend and a partner, it’s horrifying having to be objectified like that and then be expected to say thank you. No one owes anyone else their time. They don’t have to reply, they don’t have to thank you for a compliment, it’s their choice. I will say this, I have on a few occasions thanked some of the people who messaged me. In some cases it was lovely because they said you’re welcome and moved on, in others we discussed anime or gaming, but in most, I’ve had people ask me to send nudes, I’ve had people asking me to cheat on my long-term partner, I’ve been sent pictures, I’ve had this happen after simply saying thank you.

The fact that she had to request that, that fact that so many women defended her, that fact that I could probably rant about this for so long shows that the body positivity movement needs to be a safe space, and we don’t need comments on our bodies because it’s something we are coming to terms with for ourselves, not for anyone else.

I’m not saying don’t compliment each other, because it’s lovely to hear someone say your smile is gorgeous for example, but when it outright ignores a request made or goes from an innocent compliment to something degrading, that’s where the line should be drawn. It shouldn’t even have to be requested, it should be common sense.

One of the comments another woman posted on there (I apologise for being unable to find your name) had me thinking. She talked about our perceptions, how Melissa aimed for a body positive post and how that was what she wanted it to be perceived as, but due to CIS males disrespecting her, both by objectifying her body and dismissing her requests, the photo went from empowerment to essentially what the males view her as. It changed the value of the photo into what they wanted her to be viewed as. Look at my cosplays for example, I’m aware that some such as Mad Moxxi or Super Sonico are on the risqué side, but I appreciate the characters, I chose them for myself. I put blood, sweat and tears into making the costumes, I learnt to sew for the sake of making Moxxi. The comments are rarely praising my hard work. I like dressing as those characters, I try my hardest to help encourage others who are plus size feel like they can cosplay too, I want to help others embrace themselves. But it’s hard when the comments from complete strangers start and end with them wanting to do X, Y and Z to me. It doesn’t help support my case of embracing yourself for yourself, and it doesn’t help any others in the body positive movement if it’s just reduced to how you want the photos involved to be viewed.

It has been on my mind a lot the past few days since seeing how a simple request was ignored in favour of CIS males putting their feelings above those instead of just trying to listen and see what we have to say. I know not all CIS males are like this, I know because my dad, brother, boyfriend, friends, and even strangers I’ve seen comment, they don’t act like it’s okay to ignore others requests, especially on such a sensitive issue. They’ve all helped me in their own way and I’m grateful for them. I know it’s not all CIS males, but when I see posts that get such a strong reaction, it’s not hard to feel upset by the responses.

Why did I get started in the body positive movement? Because of women I’ve seen and interacted with on Instagram. They showed me there is light at the end of the dark tunnel of self-loathing and body hate. They made me smile at photos of myself. They are women that should be appreciated, respected and supported, just like everyone else should be. They make me feel worth something because my body, all female bodies, they aren’t about pleasing men or anyone else, it’s about our happiness with ourselves.

This is me. There are no filters, no edits, no makeup, no flattering poses, no sucking in, no anything. Two years ago I would have never posted this, I wouldn't even take a photo like this without ensuring I get the most flattering shot, and if I did see this back then, I would have most likely cried. Now, I'm smiling at this shot, I like how I look in this photo because it shows how far I've gone in loving me and being happy with me. This is me, and I look damn fabulous. #plussize #gloriousbabes #bigandblunt #makeyourownsparkle #allbodiesaregoodbodies #pizzasisters4lyfe #alternativecurves #curvy #bopo #bodypositive #bodypositivity #selflove #flauntyourcurves #effyourbodystandards #effyourbeautystandards #fullfigured #honormycurves #plusisequal #nonairbrushedme #nobodyshame #takingupspace #volup2isdiversity

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Alex Morley Hewitt
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