OPINION: The body positivity movement needs to confront its ableism

To help promote body positivity, people on TikTok have been posting videos dancing to “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor, mainly to the lyrics, “I’ve got a perfect body / ‘Cause my eyelashes catch my sweat.” The notion that our bodies are perfect because they work is something I’ve seen a lot. However, this idea leaves out people with disabilities or chronic illnesses that prevent their bodies from meeting this standard.

The body positivity movement has a history of ableism, causing people with disabilities to rarely see themselves represented. Many examples as to why we should love our bodies given by these well-meaning, but ignorant people — like dancing in the rain and walking through nature — are things not everyone can do. 

Rhetoric has shifted from focusing on weight to focusing on health and while that is great for fat people, it feels constantly out of reach for people with disabilities. “Health” still has connotations that center around ability and is frankly just a performative substitute for weight.

Body policing is a tool of oppression and has been used under racist, sexist, ableist and homophobic systems, so rooting body positivity in intersectionality and social justice is a requirement. So many companies profit off of people hating themselves for their weight or for not meeting Eurocentric beauty standards.

All people deserve to love their bodies as they are because they’re people. They don’t need to look a certain way or do certain things in order to be deserving of self-love.

I’m still on my own self-acceptance journey, but one recommendation for loving yourself more is to follow people who look like you. Seeing people with bodies like yours looking beautiful or handsome — or whatever adjective for attractiveness you prefer — will lead you towards viewing your own body the same way. 

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