On Body-Positivity and Social Justice: 8 Takeaways From #BBATX's All Bodies Are Good Bodies Series
body-positivity (n.): Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.
If you’re online at all, you’ve probably come across the term, “body-positivity,” once or twice (or perhaps it’s all over your feed). Whether the word is being used to justify a bikini pic or market a size-inclusive jeans line, our societal concepts of “body-positivity” have rapidly developed over time, especially in the past several years with the rise of online influencers and activists. But with this over-saturation also comes exclusion and confusion. What does body-positivity mean and what does it look like in practice?
In August, the BBATX committee created space for that answer. From August 15 to August 17, we hosted our first-ever ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES series, where we explored body positivity, bodily autonomy and pleasure activism.
This post was compiled and written by #BBATX committee member Sydney Greene.
RECAPPING THE ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES SERIES
THE ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES PANEL
Our series kicked off with a panel on August 15, ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES, where we explored the intersections of body positivity and social justice, with #BBATX committee member Sydney Greene, body-positive fitness instructor and artist Erica Nix, Fat Bottom Cabaret director and artist Nikki DaVaughn and community organizer and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Briona Jenkins.
Moderated by #BBATX committee member Sydney Greene, the panel was a deep dive into our own personal journeys with our bodies and how our trauma does not define us. It’s easy to listen to let our trauma, the media, and other outside forces to bring negative self-talk to our bodies—but our bodies are not an apology, and we’re allowed to take up space (not just with our personalities).
We also explored the importance of politicizing our understanding of our bodies and using an intersectional framework in our approach to body-positivity. All bodies deserve representation and celebration—no matter one’s size, age, race, disability, gender, sexuality etc.—and our panelist, Nikki DeVaughn, summed up the importance of diversity in the movement in one sentence: “I just want to see a fat, Black stomach on the Internet.”
THE ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES WORKSHOPS
From this panel discussion, we then hosted three workshops on August 17, exploring reproductive health, self-love and pleasure activism: “My Uterus, My Choice” with Gina Giordano of Doula Trainings, International, “Body: A Love Letter” with Jinni J and “Pleasure on Purpose” with Sex Positive Families’ Melissa Carnagey and Erica Force.
We often hear “My Uterus, My Choice” as a rallying cry in the reproductive justice movement, but what does it mean? In our workshop with Gina Giordano, co-founder of Doula Trainings International, we explored the intricacies of the uterus and reproductive health, while forming a deeper understanding of menstrual cycles and flows. We learned that, first and foremost, informed consent is something that all humans deserve, but the options we have when it comes to our health are often not presented and/or accessible. This lack of access to information about our bodies can disempower us—and it’s important to recognize how this affects those whose identities are even further marginalized.
Finally, we looked at pleasure with sex-positive educators Erica Force and Melissa Carnagey, who facilitated an interactive workshop unpacking the nuances of pleasure: Where do we first learn about it; what inhibits our access to it; and, how can we find power within it? Participants shared their own experiences and came to the agreement that pleasure is “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment,” and it’s not always linked to sexuality. Pleasure is connected to our bodies, both in our anatomy and neurologically.
here are 8 takeaways from our All bodies are good bodies panels and workshops:
Don’t hate on your body. :) We all have bad days—and it’s OK to feel negatively toward yourself, but recognize that’s a reflection of society’s shit, not yours. You are needed and valued.
Be mindful of what you consume. Ads, movies and social media content are not representative of real life and the spectrum of bodies that exist. Seek out new sources of inspiration.
We all experience different privileges and barriers in regards to our bodies, and these barriers are influenced by our bodies’ sex, gender presentation, skin color, size, ability and more.
Appreciating our bodies is directly related to our understanding of them. We deserve to make informed decisions about our bodies and how to take care of them, and we have a right to understand our own sexual and reproductive health. We deserve doctors that give us honest, responsible information about our bodies, too. When navigating our bodies and the systems that come in contact with it, you can advocate for yourself in many ways, including: Asking your doctor questions, talking about your experience, taking notes, finding new care providers when you’re not being respected, keeping medical records and bringing along an advocate to help you on your journey.
We are all born inherently worthy of pleasure. It is not something that we have to earn or sacrifice for. Your body deserves pleasure.
We are all powerful. For those of us who have experienced trauma and oppression in relation to our bodies or experiences, we have the right to reclaim pleasure for ourselves and in turn give space for others to reclaim it for themselves, as well.
There is strength in community. Cultivate strong relationships and show up for one another, when it’s necessary. Advocate for body-positivity and denounce those who shame and/or exclude others based on their bodies.
We need to have crucial conversations around how we are playing into the systems that take joy and body-positive experiences away from others. It’s the responsibility of those who are less oppressed to do the hard work.
In conclusion, we’re here to let you know that ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES. Don’t apologize for your body. Be nice to your bodies and other bodies that don’t look like yours. Because we all deserve it.
HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDED READINGS FOR THE BODY-POSITIVE BABE:
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar
Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne marie brown
Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It by Dr. Laurie Mintz
Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving by Betty Dodson
Curvy Girl Sex: by Elle Chase
Pussy Prayers: by Black Girl Bliss
“The Keys to a Happier Healthier Sex Life” by Dr. Emily Nagoski
“A New Sexual Revolution for Orgasm Equality” by Dr. Laurie Mintz
Instagram Accounts to Follow:
Speaking of Sex (by The Pleasure Mechanics)
Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel
Sisters of Sexuality: Five Shades of Play
Sex with Dr. Jess
Sex Gets Real with Dawn Serra
“Am I Normal?” featuring Melissa & Erica- episode 7 of Sex Positive Families The Pod