I am chubby. Always have been, probably always will be. I was born chubby, I grew up chubby. I am chubby. I’ve never lived life skinny, or knowing what it’s like to be skinny. My stomach has never been completely flat, my thighs have never sported a gap between them, my cheeks have never been hollow. Knowing this, I have always asked myself whether I am in fact, capable of being, quote unquote, skinny.
Let’s start with why I would want to slim down. Convenience is a factor. If I lost my larger upper body/hips to waist ratio I could probably find a wider range of shirts that actually fit me properly, as opposed to being way too tight around my chest and 2 sizes too big on the bottom. And health is another reason. Losing weight would lower my risk of diseases such as diabetes, and would probably make me feel a little healthier overall. I could look good and feel good as well. And most of the media is telling me I should lose weight. I face weight loss prompts everywhere I go, from movies to advertisements to every cover on the magazine rack. It’s a pretty socially accepted norm to want to lose weight, I wouldn’t be doing anything out of the ordinary or downright shocking, and as long as I don’t take it to extremes it probably won’t hurt.
With all these things working in favour towards me having a better body, I’ve tried to zero in on the reasons why I don’t, which have been narrowed down to three different ones: food tastes good, exercise is a lot of effort, and that I’m trying to be body positive.
That last reason is one that has been extensively communicated in the media in recent years. The body positive movement is a recent wave of support and encouragement for girls to embrace their more full-figured bodies. Body positive role models are women such as Christina Hendricks, Jennifer Lawrence, Mindy Kaling, Beyonce and Adele.
Modern body positive advocates also look to Old Hollywood for further fuel to add to the body positive movement. Marilyn Monroe is a favourite actress of reference, hailed for being a size 8-10 throughout her career.
While the body positive movement has done a great deal to empower women who may not be classically “skinny”, is it possible that this movement has gone too far?
This past year, Meghan Trainor released her song “All About That Bass”. While it has been commended for promoting a body positive message, it has also come under scrutiny for “skinny-shaming”. Some of the lyrics read:
“Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places”
“I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches"
While the body positive movement should be applauded for making girls who aren’t necessarily "skinny” feel good about their body, in these kinds of cases, it has almost gone a step further, and turned the tables. Instead of “fat-shaming”, we are now experiencing a wave of “skinny-shaming”. And when was the last time that fighting fire with fire when dealing with these sorts of issues was a good idea?
The body positive movement is a movement that should be accessible to every body. When actresses like Kate Winslet (in an interview with Vogue) make comments like “Honestly, among my acquaintances there is no woman wearing XS. No, sorry, there is one: my daughter. The point is that Mia is 11 years old”, she is empowering one group of people at the expense of another. This is not the point and should not be the point of the body positive movement. There will always be some women whose bodies are naturally inclined to be thinner, just as there will be women (like me) whose bodies will hold on to more weight. There is nothing wrong with either of these body types, and there is no reason for one to be promoted and the other to be put down. The only things that should be promoted in the body positive movement are: eating right, exercising, and at the end of the day, embracing your body for what it is. The only thing you can really control about your body (by natural means) is taking care of it and appreciating it. Everything else is really up to your genetics, which is outside of your control.
There is no use trying to fix something that you have no control over, and furthermore, does not need to be fixed. The body positive movement does not need more shaming and exclusion for people to feel better about their bodies. You will feel better about your body once you take care of it. And by taking care of and loving your body, you can, in turn, promote respect for every body.
With that said, I will now stuff my face with naan and the leftovers of some sort of fried vegetable concoction that I had for dinner last night. And I will enjoy every bite of it.