Being active in the body positive community can be really difficult, especially when there are so many different voices saying so many different things. Sometimes the messages are really conflicting, and if you’re not quite at the stage where you’re self-assured and ready to guide your own journey, it can be tough to decipher which messages are actually really problematic and potentially damaging. As with ‘the real world’, there are definitely people in the body positive community who can be duplicitous and self-serving. Unfortunately, the only way you usually find this out about somebody is to get hurt by them. So, at the risk of drawing negative attention to myself, I thought I would share some of the red flags I have seen in the last couple of years. Of course, you might well get along with different people than I do, and you might be able to relate to people in different ways. But if somebody is making you doubt your own worth, or makes you feel like they are not being honest, always trust your gut. It’s an age old lesson that I am having to teach myself repeatedly, but together we can all get there!
Another name for the smiling assassin could be ‘captain of the cheerleading squad’: think peppy, over-the-top enthusiastic but utterly in love with herself. And not in the good way. If you feel like somebody is smiling to your face but only has mean things to say about you when you’re not around, you need to get away. If somebody seems to be cheerleading themselves, and saying ‘all of the right things’ to get retweets but you find yourself doubting their authenticity, trust that gut instinct. If you see somebody continuously changing friendship groups and becoming new besties with whoever is viral, start to back away. Bonus points if they blame it on your jealousy, rather than their bad behaviour. Unfortunately, the blogging world can be like high school and I have trusted too many people who will smile gleefully to my face but then drop me the second somebody with more followers shows them attention.
Yeesh, where to start. All body positive bloggers should really know that it is never okay to post about weight loss. It’s 100% amazing for them to do whatever the hell they want with their bodies, and for whatever reasons they want. But just because certain words and numbers don’t trigger them anymore, they shouldn’t forget that they could still trigger somebody else. Don’t fight to stay friends with the person who deletes bloggers from social media for dieting when they’re feeling low on confidence, leaves group chats because one member mentioned their weight and it triggered them, who then preaches about how they should be allowed to be proud of their own weight loss. It doesn’t work that way. We all know that posting publicly about weight loss does many things: it suggests that you were wrong when you were a larger weight. It suggests that a smaller size is something to ‘congratulate’ because you have ‘worked hard’/’done well’. It suggests that your value has increased as your dress size decreased. And when you see somebody who used to be body positive flaunting their latest diet, please allow yourself to feel those pangs of betrayal. They are absolutely justified, and it is okay for you to walk away if you don’t want to read it.
There are so many bloggers out there who just have absolutely no idea what words are coming out of their mouths, I swear. I’ve seen people posting pictures of self-harm and then laughing with their friends (fellow bloggers) about people being triggered or even upset by the images. I see people decide on a whim that they’ve got a chronic condition because it gives them the opportunity to complain, despite the fact that it is so ableist and thoughtless to try to use genuine conditions for your own sympathy. I see people comment on other peoples’ pictures: “you’d look so nice with some leggings!”, “I feel bad for your poor boobs in that bra”, “personally I don’t think that dress does anything for your figure” and it just baffles me that people can be so clueless about the actual purpose of body positivity. If you follow somebody like that, please assume they are ill-educated on the topic and do not take anything they have to say as gospel. Rise above, lady.
Not unlike the smiling assassin, the yo-yo changes friendship groups more than she changes her knickers. The difference being that she actively agrees with whoever she is speaking to – regardless of whether or not that contradicts something she publicly posted on another social media channel five minutes ago. An example of this would be somebody who said ‘I haven’t weighed myself in years’, then spoke to a blogger who has began dieting and says ‘I know, I weighed myself last week too”. It goes without saying, but if you spot holes in peoples stories then please do not waste your time waiting for them to become an honest person. You do not want to follow the advice of somebody who can’t get their own story straight.
Those plus size bloggers who are horrified that Lindy Bop only go up to a size 26, and they’re so angry for their friends having to miss out, ‘but space unicorns!’ so they go ahead and buy it anyway. It becomes an issue when you repeatedly see that somebody does not practice what they preach. Somebody cannot purport to be fully inclusive of all body types when they are actively supporting companies (and other bloggers) who do not feel the same way. It is just impossible. Next time you see somebody who looks a little bit too good to be true, look a little closer: she probably is.
Editors edit – I asked Sophie to expand on this last point more and she said,
‘It’s not about your average person, its people who put themselves out there as this pillar of fat positivity but when push comes to shove it doesn’t really apply. However I would argue that if it hits too close to home there is an opportunity to do something about it.’
Which ‘body positive’ bloggers who aren’t quite what they seem have you experienced recently? Name no names, but give us fair warning!