Something has been bothering me for about a month and we need to talk about it because the math just doesn’t add up! On one hand, we have people praising Rihanna for baring her baby bump in a series of unapologetically sexy fits. And on the flip side, we have people slamming Lizzo for flaunting her form-fitting butt in a range of uncompromisingly sexy fits, most recently a pair of bottomless chaps from her new shapewear line, Yitty.
As a proud member of the plus-size community, I’m more used to the latter: pot-bellied bodies bearing nothing but hate disguised as a misinformed concern for our health and well-being. I mean, for the past few years we’ve watched trolls try to rip Lizzo down for rocking a see-through dress at Cardi B’s birthday party (among other iconic Fashun moments) and really just living her life. I think that’s why I was so shocked to see the overwhelmingly positive reception of Rih’s maternity looks, bared tummy and all, considering the internet’s incessant churn of plus-sized celebrity bodies. In my eyes, these were two similar examples of people simply doing what they want with their bodies.
To be clear, I’m not here to tell anyone what to do, how to present themselves, or what to wear. I’m not here to pit Rih or Lizzo against each other either, as they both blazed legendary trails and shattered ridiculous conventions in the fashion world and beyond. I’m here to point out the double standard, celebrate pregnant bodies and criticize fat bodies. What is the so-called logic? Is the size of a pregnant body – especially that of cisgender women – more acceptable and respectable because they are carrying a child and doing what society’s standards say their body is supposed to be doing? While societal standards also insist that plus size bodies are unacceptable and inappropriate because they deviate from bigoted Western beliefs about what women’s bodies should look like – I call it bullshit.
Let’s start with the pure juxtaposition of how society loves to celebrate a pregnant body, and then several months and quite a miracle later demands that same body “bounce back”. And when we’re not pregnant, we’re conditioned to erase our stretch marks, suck in our bellies, just cross our legs so, and hide or hide our curves. This yo-yo perception not only feeds the constant scrutiny women face regarding their bodies, but also justifies the damn outdated concept that as women, our bodies’ primary goals are to give birth and look good…whatever “good is. even means.
As a longtime social media influencer and personality, I’ve seen firsthand this desirability politics at play in the black plus-size community on social media. For years, black creators, fat creators, and fat black creators have been talking about the actual racism and fat phobia constantly being displayed on social media apps. I mean, just two years ago Instagram had to change its entire nudity policy after it censored a plus-size black model’s breasts as “too big” and her photo as too “pornographic” (shoutout to Nyonme Nicholas-Williams).
You’re reading this essay from somewhere on the world wide web, so I know you know what I’m talking about. Whether you’re scrolling through a social feed or reading an article from the group chat, it’s quite difficult to escape from our culture’s impossible standards of beauty and the arbitrary conditions that come with them. Well I’m tired. You are not?
I guess there’s not much more to say here except “Hey guys, can you just mind your own business and your body?!”
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