Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: MsLindsayM

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

If you’re not one of Lindsay, aka @mslindsaym over 25,000 Instagram followers, maybe you’ve used her hashtag #selfiesforselflove or you’re following her page by the same name. Selfies for Self Love has a separate following of over 25,000 and features humans of all shapes and genders. The purpose behind her movement is not only to spread the message of self love, but also to increase diverse representation in media. This quest is something near and dear to Lindsay who’s day job is working in the feminist movement to end violence against women. Intersectional feminist analysis is not only her passion, it is her career and where her formal education is based. Diversity and inclusivity is something that the body positive community could work on, according to her.

“I think we need to acknowledge that the roots of this community come from the fat acceptance movement which was originally created by queer fat femmes, women of colour and people living with disabilities. This movement is about marginalized bodies and when we constantly put thin, white, straight, able-bodied women on a pedestal to represent us, we are doing our history a disservice. I think we got a bit lost in the message of body positivity being for all bodies when it was created by a very specific group of individuals who have faced violence and hatred because of their oppression. While I do want all people to love their bodies we need to be making space for those least allowed to do so, according to societal standards.

Compare this to other movements for example, we don't let straight people run Pride Parades and we don't let White people control Black Lives Matter. Sure we want everyone to be able to have a partner they love, but only queer people are currently being denied that. Yes, all lives matter but currently Black lives are being treated as if they don't by the justice system. Thin people are already accepted by our society, even if they personally don't love their body. They will never face the kind of oppression or discrimination that fat people face in the same way that I as a White person can have empathy for the experience of racism, but I can never truly know how it feels to be the target of racism.

People in positions of privilege are needed as allies, to help us achieve our goals, but never to take over the movement or start to dominate the conversation. As a queer fat femme myself, it hurts me to see this history ignored and for the voices from that community to be pushed out of the centre stage to make room for less marginalized bodies. It makes me sad to see our movement co-opted by people who not only don't know the history but are doing their best to erase it and capitalize on it.

I'd like to see the body positive (and the feminist) community do better around issues of anti-racism and anti-oppression. Sadly, given how long we have been asking for this in the mainstream feminist movement and the lack of results, I don't think this trend will happen any time soon, if at all. In fact, I predict the opposite. I bet you there will be at least one comment that says that I am oppressing people (by saying these things). The people who believe in reverse racism and that we need straight pride parades will not be impressed with my response. But I am tired of not speaking up on this issue and starting to consider moving away from the term body positive in favour of embracing the fat acceptance movement since it is more inter-sectional.”

While she feels the movement could improve (shouldn’t we always be striving to be better, more inclusive?), she finds that being a part of the body positive community keeps her energized and moving forward. It also serves as a source of inspiration and support.

“Body positivity is critical to my overall mood and emotional well being. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder it would be really easy for me to slip back into those patterns if I stopped taking care of myself. As someone living in a small town, I think one of the most important reasons for using the internet is its ability to connect like minded people from around the world. Connecting with other fat women and body positive activists is not something I can do locally but with the internet I am able to reach out to people I otherwise would not have access to.”

She says that she feels fiercest hanging out in her lingerie at home. She credits three women with giving her the courage to find that strength and now share it online with others. “Those women are Megan from BodyPosiPanda, George from FullerFigureFullerBust, and Honorine from HonorMyCurves. I started out just looking at their photos and felt a powerful shift in my way of thinking, but I still wasn't fully comfortable in my own body. Taking selfies, especially those with very little clothing on, really helped me to radically love my own body. I want women who look like me to be able to fill their newsfeed with women who look like them. I want to contribute to changing the images we see around us on a daily basis because I know the impact seeing one type, and only one type, of beauty can have on the self-esteem of an individual.”

She says that changing the images you see on a daily basis does start with you. Search for accounts starring people who don’t look like you. If you run an account, follow in #selfiesforselflove’s footsteps: “Do better at being inclusive! There are way too many pages for thin or curvy white women who we already see in the media. I want to see more trans people, more gender queer people, more butch people, more people of colour, more people with disabilities, more people embracing their body hair, more real diversity.”

Lightning Round
Favorite Happy Song?
  • Anything 90s R&B
What’s a movie that never gets old?
  • Dazed and Confused - literally watched it a thousand times.
What’s a book you could read repeatedly?
  • Anything by Jessica Valenti
Favorite ice cream?
  • Prailines and Cream or Mint Chocolate Chip
Favorite brick and mortar store?
  • This very second, Penningtons.
Favorite online store?
  • This very second, Society+.
Do you have any hobbies?
  • Yoga, reading, hiking with my dog.
Drink of Choice
  • Earl Grey Tea, Chai Lattes or Chocolate Milk

Until Next Time,
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