When you consider how much time you spend hating your body — you know, all those moments when you poke at your belly fat or the cellulite on your upper thigh; when you look in the mirror and chastise yourself for having a big nose or small eyes or a too-large forehead — it begins to seem almost silly. And that's where the new trending hashtag on Twitter #PlusSizeAppreciation comes in. While many of us were marveling at the body pos celebration of the booty at last night's Met Gala, others were starting a social media frenzy of both self-love and support for other women. And it's honestly so refreshing to see plus-size women unapologetically celebrate their bodies in such a pure, honest, and bold way.
When I personally consider all the years I spent full of self-loathing rooted in aesthetics (because obviously aesthetics are the most important thing!), I begin to miss all the things I could've been doing instead. Everything from the drunken high school parties (they're a right of passage, after all) I didn't attend because every outfit I owned was "unflattering" to my VBO, to all those snacks and packed lunches I threw away carelessly because calories were my worst enemy. Those times — they weren't fun. And I'm not alone in this. But finally, women (and men) are beginning to realize that there's more to this crazy existence than weigh-ins and negative self talk.
For over 24 hours, women have been doing what they should honestly always be doing: Loving and appreciating every inch of themselves. Over the last month, we've been hearing a lot about reasons to drop the term "plus-size," and while most of these arguments are rooted in the premise that true inclusivity doesn't call for labels and branding, it cannot be denied that those two words also hold a lot of power right now. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: We need to first embrace our bodies as they are — celebrate and take back all the words and terms previously used as insults — before we can move to a place that no longer needs those words at all. And it's nothing short of empowering to see women all over Twitter do just that.
What's more inspiring though? The amount of re-Tweeting and praise going on. It's easy to get caught up in our own "journeys" — in our own evolution towards becoming the body positive individuals we want to be. But people are proving left and right that supporting those around us is equally important. Granted, our self worth shouldn't be solely based on the opinions of those around us, but that shouldn't mean we fail to tell each other we're special or beautiful or talented or worthy.
Of course, this wouldn't be a social media campaign if it didn't spark other campaigns. From #PlusSizeAppreciation has stemmed #SkinnyGirlAppreciation. It might seem strange to say, but this reactionary hashtag has made me feel a little uncomfortable. Almost like the body positive and fat positive activist in me is battling the feminist in me. And those terms should never, ever be separate.
On the one hand, it's crucial to support other women. Girl on girl snark á la Mean Girls is not a state of mind I want to inhabit. I believe that every body is beautiful. I truly do. And that means I believe every body deserves praise. But at the same time, those using the #SkinnyGirlAppreciation tag have yet to address the under-recognized reality that is "thin privilege."
Thin is already perceived as beautiful by just about every media outlet or fashion industry aficionado. Our world runs on it. It's the very reason a thin person can walk into any shop on the high street and purchase whatever their heart desires. It's the very reason a thin person will always be more comfortable on a bus seat or airplane or school desk than a fat person. It's the very reason a thin person is (usually) able to exist without being hounded to lose weight, "get healthy," or "adopt a different lifestyle." I believe thin bodies are beautiful, but I also believe that they're largely accepted; whereas fat bodies are not. And due to this fact, I do wish plus-size men and women would've been allowed this one moment. This one movement. As one user on Twitter put it:
All that being said, all women (and honestly, men) are faced with the tribulations of "achieving perfection." At any size, at any weight, most of us will — even if only briefly — feel as though we're not enough. Feel as though we're somehow, intrinsically wrong. And any hashtag or social media campaign or activism that helps remedy that is an invaluable part of growing stronger.
So here's my contribution to #PlusSizeAppreciation. Part of being truly body positive, IMO, is learning to see the beauty in every single part of the body you've been told is "flawed," be it your tummy, cellulite, stretch marks, flat chest, or even double chin: