What does it mean to be body positive?
What’s all the hype about anyway…
In the era of precise terminology and inclusion it’s easy to get lost on what a word or phrase signifies. I mean, I get it, no one ever wants to feel invisible. It sucks to feel like your existence doesn’t play a part in the world. In recent years, the term ‘body positive’ has become rather mainstream. So, I thought it be a good idea to explore what it means to be body positive. Let’s dive into an in-depth explanation.
Since the 60’s, models like Twiggy made ‘ultra-skinny’ a fashion trend designers exploited as the perfect form. Women who didn’t fit into that particular mold became the source of ridicule, shaming, and all-round rejection. Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia surfaced at an alarming rate among women of all ages claiming the lives of many. This mindset epidemic was all in the name of achieving ‘a flawless body’. The catastrophic effects of this manipulation can still be seen in society today.
It was easy for designers to have a one size fits all consumer. They spent less on material and only had one body shape to worry about. I remember watching Fashion Runway season 3 (circa 2006). Designers were given the challenge to make an outfit for plus-size women. “I don’t understand these proportions” was a phrase engraved in my mind as a frustrated Jeffrey Sebelia, the season’s winner, tried to piece his garment together. Similar sentiments and complaints were shared by the other contestants. They didn’t understand plus size measurements because it wasn’t a popular practice to clothe women who weren’t a smaller size.
We’re just victims of really good marketing schemes
For years influencers and stars have been used to spread hate agenda for the benefit and ease of the designer. Many would argue they were bullied and abused. Magazine editors publishing unsavory pictures of them whenever they show signs of weight gain isn’t exactly a gesture of friendship. People have an insatiable need to fit in and they’ll happily go along with ruthless shaming if it means they’ll feel accepted. Buying a magazine that ridicules someone for their appearance embeds fear of becoming that which is being advertised as outcasted. The easiest way for a marketer to succeed at their job is to make the consumer believe they are a loser if they don’t have what they’re promoting. In this case – a “perfect body” to fit into beautiful clothing.
So, now that we’ve spread some butter, let’s define what it is to be “body positive”. Contrary to what many may think, body positivity isn’t a movement solely for women who are thicker around the edges. It’s a fight that advocates the acceptance and normality of ALL women regardless of what their body type may be.
There may be a few trolls ready to run their mouth about health and fitness. “This movement promotes obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle” would be phrase right up their alley… Um, no. Being body positive doesn’t mean not giving two cents about health- quite the contrary. The movement supports and encourages the decision in reaching a goal anyone may have. However, the essence of being body positive is to accept any stage a woman’s physical development is in. NOT to make her feel like she’s inferior because she’s doesn’t fit into a conventional mold. It also stresses the importance of respecting the size a woman chooses to stay in.
What does Islam say about all of this?
Women have the right to feel beautiful in their own skin. They don’t have to look a certain way to be considered worthy. One of the biggest deceptions of the shaytan is making us believe we’ll be better, happier, complete, or whole when we’re not who we are right now. He sows the seeds of self-hatred and it’s not what Allah (swt) intends for us.
Abu Hurairah (radhiAllahu anhu) narrated: Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said, “Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts [and deeds].” [Muslim]
This doesn’t mean we don’t take care of ourselves or not care about our appearance. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful, and he loves beauty. He loves the loftiest of affairs and disapproves of pettiness.” [ al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 6902] regarding someone asking him (saw) if it was okay to decorate themselves and wear beautiful clothing. Our priorities (and what we should be judged by for that matter) start with beautifying our character. Part of that is also caring for the miracle that is our body.
Don’t let yourself be dragged under the tide
The most important thing to get out if this is to remember: There is no perfect body shape. A woman must always be treated with honor and respect. She should feel like she is an equal part of society regardless of her appearance. This includes making clothing for her that she will be content and confident wearing. I started Modestly Cupcake because there wasn’t anything on the market that I felt comfortable wearing. Seeing perfect models in rhinestone embellished clothing isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Neither is an overhead sheet with holes- no offense to those who dig it but it’s def not for me. This brand may not be for everyone- and that’s okay. I’m content with a handful of cupcakes that know it was made for their comfort and self-esteem and most importantly- their modesty.
As a woman who is considered “fat”, refuses to contour/highlight, and chooses to be modest I think it’s important to educate women in the Muslim community that they are far above what modern society tells them they must be. InshaAllah I’ll be able to convey this message in a way that is pleasing to Allah. Before I’m anything- I’m a Muslimah first.
Till next time folks.
Stay positive. Body positive. #DareToBeCupcake