Pulling straight from Wikipedia: “Body positivity is a social movement focused on the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities, while challenging present-day beauty standards as an undesirable social construct.”
It’s dominated by social liberals, which, given the above buzz words, may be unsurprising, but, upon reflection, it’s a little interesting, considering that transgenderism, almost by definition, entails a rejection of one’s bodily reality (and homosexuality too, to a lesser extent).
The body positivity movement is a little too broad for me to throw my support behind without caveats. A subset of it, the fat acceptance movement, for instance, opposes fat-shaming (good), but also perpetuates the lie that you can be healthy at any size (bad).
Beauty standards, while somewhat arbitrary and fluid, are not always mere social constructs either.
Nonetheless, I want to give credit where credit is due, especially in the movement’s efforts to detach self-worth from physical appearance.
What’s wrong with a bearded woman? A bald woman? Her unshaven legs, armpits, and unibrow?
I’m not asking why you don’t find her attractive. I’m asking why many of those on the right mock her, why some of you readers are probably trying to formulate an explanation of why these characteristics are moral failings.
In answer, I think social conservatives tend to conflate the present-day beauty standards with gender norms—even to see them as prescriptive.
Again, this habit is interesting because these beauty standards are superficial, and we understand sexual differences to be embedded much more deeply, and immutably, in one’s anatomy. Womanhood is not something that can be earned. Just as slapping lipstick and a wig on a man does not a woman make, so broad shoulders and a buzz cut do not a woman unmake.
On the whole, social conservatives sure act like it does, as if the loss of her appeal to (most) men, thereby undermines her femininity, and warrants censure.
Sure, I’m personally miffed that in participating in conservative or “trad” communities (subscribing to traditional sexual morality), I’m also subtly pressured to present as the perfect 50’s housewife – rouged cheeks, coiffed hair, and an hourglass figure.
I’m much more concerned, though, about how these shallow ideals make the social conservative movement unwelcoming to outsiders.
The beauty of the currently relatively free internet is that anyone can stumble across a Daily Wire video of Ben Shapiro or Michael Knowles and the strength of their arguments, the truth of their words, can win someone over to the pro-life and pro-family side.
Unfortunately, if someone instead comes across a video of conservative commentator Steven Crowder obnoxiously crashing a “fat-pride feminist panel” or of The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh calling it “gross” and “seriously disgusting” for women to grow facial hair, then I worry the viewer won’t want to hear anything else they have to say.
Sometimes intentions are good. One of the generally based Facebook pages I recommend following, Appalling Apostolic Memes for Liberty-Minded Teens, which is not just for teens, unobjectionably urges everyone to treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit through exercise and good diet. However, the page administrators have also taunted ideological adversaries to “post physique,” as if a lack of muscles invalidates their arguments.
Sometimes intentions are no better than those of a schoolyard bully—a temptation to cultivate a sense of superiority (and internet infamy) by ridiculing differences and punishing nonconformity. Making fun of someone’s appearance is just scummy—the pettiest means of attack either the left or right can employ.
Either way, this insensitivity—this prejudice-disguised-as-comedy—is not how you win people over.
In a video titled, “Why Are People Trying To Be Ugly?” Walsh “cancels ugly people.” He tries to make a distinction between “those who are aesthetically deficient through no fault or choice of their own” and those who are “intentionally trying to be ugly.” There is value in his commentary, but even physical changes people make consciously—facial piercings, tattoos, edgy haircuts—are relatively trivial. Even if they’re external signs of inner turmoil, address that turmoil directly then!
In the quest to figure out what to believe and not believe, average young people today, possessing little familiarity with and appreciation for objective truth, may make that determination based on whom they want to believe. Don’t be mean. It’s unreasonable for anyone to expect to find a sense of belonging in a judgmental, uncompassionate community.
Pursue what is good and true and beautiful, yes, but also become attuned to the beauty in all of God’s creation. Tearing others down is ugly, while kindness and beauty go hand-in-hand.