Fat Women Created the Body Positive Movement—But Few Are Benefiting From It

Lizzo reflects on the mainstream success of the body positive movement.

Lizzo

Lizzo

Lizzo went on TikTok and spilled some truth about body positivity. The singer, who has been very active on TikTok with wellness and body positivity videos, made a general call out about the fact that fat people are no longer the center of the body positivity movement.


Lizzo stitched a video from TikTok content creator and fat liberation advocate, Marissa Matthews (@sheismarissamatthews). In the original video, Marissa responded to a comment saying, “Everyone has time to lose weight,” by saying, “I really don’t understand why I can’t just exist in my own body.” 


Lizzo echoed those sentiments, adding some of her own thoughts. “Now that body positivity has been co-opted by all bodies and people are finally celebrating medium and small girls and people who occasionally get rolls, fat people are still getting the short end of this movement,” the singer said. “We’re still getting shit on. We’re still getting talked about, memed, shamed, and no one cares anymore because it’s like, ‘Body positivity is for everybody.’ Yes, please be positive about your body. Please use our movement to empower yourself. That’s the point. But the people who created this movement, big women, big brown and black women, queer women are not benefitting from the mainstream success of it. Our bodies are none of your fucking business. Our health is none of your fucking business.”

If you’re not quite sure what Lizzo’s referring to, it’s this. TikTok has been a great tool for finding community and giving airtime to conversations and nuance that are often left out of larger movements. The body positivity movement is no different. If you were to search the #bodypositivity hashtag, at the point of publication, the results, while a mixed bag, are filled primarily with images of people who society would acceptably deem “thin.” There’s even a rising use of the term “mid-sized,” which refers to people who aren’t skinny but aren’t plus-sized. But based on the people whose videos can be found in the #midsized tag, the size range of people who believe themselves to be neither thin nor fat is wide. 

And while there is definitely room in the body positivity movement for these nuanced conversations, the movement is not primarily about which types of bodies can be deemed attractive. Fat people are advocating for liberation from weight-based discrimination. They are still discriminated against in workplaces and doctors offices, in addition to being harassed online, in public, and in social situations for their size. 

Ultimately Lizzo’s point is that the core of the body positivity movement is currently being forgotten. It is great to celebrate bodies of all sizes and shapes, like she said. But celebration of some bodies is not acceptance of all bodies, and it is an injustice for the body positivity movement to carry on without the people and the intention with which it originally began.

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