Positivity and Poetry

Our society is much like an ocean, a movement always breaking tides. Body positivity is one of the few movements that has managed to break tides across the globe and in every niche community, rightfully so. The writing world has always been a source for political and social uprising, and how could it not be, a constant ebb and flow of new, diverse thought composed in metaphor? Body positivity is no outlier. 

    Rachel Wiley, author of Nothing is Okay, and Blythe Baird, author of If My Body Could Speak, are just two of the poets supporting the cause in major ways through poetry and on a daily basis. Wiley tackles images regarding weight and self-image while Baird details her struggles with eating disorders. Both, though, embrace the need for self-love and criticize aspects of society that promote self-image issues. For example, in her poem “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny,” Baird writes: “If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.” She also writes in the same poem: “As a child, Fat was the first word people used to describe me which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to.” In these two quotes, Baird uses compare-contrast and her own experience to note how society views “fat” versus “thin” and the ways in which these distinctions are taught at very young ages. Baird actively pushes back against these distinctions, emphasizing how unfair and unhealthy those standards are to society as a whole. Wiley’s poem, “The Fat Joke,” fights in similar ways, though places a heavier blame on society: “Fat Girl walks into the World and says, ‘World, it hurts to exist like this,’ and the World says, ‘stop existing like that.’” Wiley goes further to criticize doctors for under- and misdiagnosing heavier women. She draws on personal experience to make the point that these women can’t go to a single appointment without their weight being questioned. 

    Neither Baird nor Wiley attempt to solve these issues, and I don’t blame them. Change that is widespread in the ways that we as a society communicate, interact, and hold beliefs is difficult to incite. However, Baird and Wiley both offer solace (a lighthouse, if you will) from those perpetuated messages. They receive more than their fair share of hatred and body shaming but always know the perfect clapback. 

    Ultimately, body positivity is comparatively easy on a small scale if we can change the content we choose to consume and look for pockets of inspiration and support around us. No matter what community you call yourself apart of, body positivity is around you or actively trying to be. With an ocean of storm-level support, there is little reason not to reach out and try to feel beautiful and enough.


To read more from Wiley or Baird, or purchase their books, see these links: