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National Plus Size Appreciation Day: Influencers and Influencees

Hi there! You might remember my previous article about body positivity culture (update on that, I haven’t lost more weight, but I did get pretty jacked, so I see this as a win). Given this experience, I thought it would be fitting to give you my (shortened, non-thesis) take on body positivity for National Plus Size Appreciation Day.

As I wrote this article, I started noticing the media dialogue around fatness in women. Many of the influencers I looked at posted thirst traps (and I have to hand it to them, they did them well) and long posts about body image with a few photos of side-by-side posing comparisons. 

Now, after that long discussion about how you should love your body because bodies don’t really look like they do on Instagram, I expected to see some sort of change in their poses from then on. I did not.

While these influencers were telling their base that they are perfect how they are—that they don’t have to hide parts of themselves to be worthy—they are doing the opposite. 

Now, I want to believe in people, and I don’t think these women are purposefully trying to show you that you have to be hot to be worthy. I don’t even think they personally believe that. So why do we continue to hear the same message?

Why do we put character emphasis on external looks? Why do we feel the need to attach beauty to goodness?

Well I can tell you that. Think of a classic Disney princess. Now think of a classic Disney villain. You’re likely thinking of an attractive young woman as your princess, and a gnarled crone or some freaky looking dude, right? 

Take The Little Mermaid for example. Ariel is a pretty young redhead with the desire to join humanity. Ursula is a fat sea-creature-woman-thing who was modeled after a drag queen. Now, having characters that may not fit into our conventional ideas of what our appearances should be is fine. What starts to toe the line is when that type of character seems to recur as a villain. 

So why do we villainize fatness and unconventionality? Could it have something to do with the fact that a lot of people make a lot of money when we feel unworthy in our natural form? Or maybe the fact that we’ve traditionally placed attractiveness as a woman’s highest accomplishment since the old-olden times? 

Now, these issues do impact folks who aren’t women. I’ve seen it in person. Anyone can be targeted for not looking how “they should”. But it seems like women (or folks perceived as women) are held to even higher standards than everyone else. 

I think we need to stop conflating beauty with self-worth. You don’t have to be beautiful or skinny to light up the world around you. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You don’t even have to try it. You’re enough the way you are, and you should focus on what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, the only opinions about you that matter are your own.

Also, getting off my “love yourself” soapbox, I’d like some cute plus size clothing that isn’t 30 dollars more. Or only in a shift/tunic style. Or in just black. Give us options.

Thanks.

Meg Chaffee is a junior at Winona State University studying History and Political Science. She hopes to teach high school social studies, because she wouldn’t be able to deal with her students eating smart glue during craft activities just because it has the word “smart” on it. She wrote a story on Watt-pad (during middle school, in an account she can no longer access) that received far too many votes for several awards, and no, she will not give you the name. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and watching The Good Place repeatedly on Netflix.
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