Body Positivity for Girls and Boys (from a gender studies perspective)

Hi everyone, I’m Kelsie and I am an intern at One World Girl for the Spring of 2021. Last week, I had the pleasure of giving a speech about Body Positivity from a Gender Studies perspective for high school students of all genders as part of an amazing project created by Bernadette and Sophia, two of the inspirational young women on our Youth Advisory Council. To continue spreading awareness about this important topic, I will discuss my studies and opinions on Body Positivity in this post. Quickly, I’ll provide a definition of the goal of gender studies; which is to take an interdisciplinary approach to a profound social justice goal: understanding how gender and sexuality shape our culture, daily lives, social institutions, and interactions.

We can understand toxic body culture as misogynistic as well - patriarchal cultural norms equate youth with beauty and reject the normal physicality of adult women like body hair and body fat. For example, weight discrimination is legal in 49 states and a women’s size 16 is considered plus size, even though it is the average size for American women (Time Magazine, 49 States Allow Employers to Discriminate Based on Weight) (Christel, Deborah, Average American Women's Clothing Size). Furthermore, queer folks who exist outside of the male-female binary experience consistent discrimination for not aligning with beauty standards that relate to their sex- assigned at birth. Whether its claiming that Black hairstyles are unprofessional, slut-shaming students for their clothing choices, excluding fat folks from accessing adequate healthcare, or discriminating against queer folks, we must understand our struggle for radical self-love as collective and societal, not just individual. While we deconstruct the tendency within ourselves to hate our natural bodies and appearance, we must also understand that activism against these structures is necessary to deconstructing them. Biases and stigmas in society create a situation where even if you accept your own body, you will likely experience oppression and discrimination just for existing as you are. Let’s all strive to participate in radical self-love and continue fighting for change in our communities, encouraging others to understand body diversity as positive.

“The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors' tactics, the oppressors' relationships.” - Audre Lorde

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