Dear Iskra

Along with other well-known names and faces such as Ashley Graham and Amy Schumer, you are a poster child for modern day body positivity. A poster that’s current, important, and widely celebrated. So don’t get me wrong, I am a big champion of all people and messages having their place, but I have to be honest with you, it is becoming harder and harder not to tear that f*cking poster down. 

I am a firm believer in initial small change being the vehicle for larger change, so it is fantastic that you have helped so many women feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin. You have helped scores of women to see that it is perfectly natural to have a bit of extra jiggle in your wiggle, and cellulite, and bumps and bulges in all kinds of places. You have helped bring body positivity to the forefront and therefore many more people will benefit from its power. So thank you. But there is still so much inequality and lack of inclusivity within the body positive world. Let’s talk cake for a minute…

If someone like Victoria Beckham eats a slice of cake they are met with a response along the lines of “Thank f*ck the skinny cow finally ate something.”

If someone like me eats a slice of cake I’m met with “You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re gonna get diabetes and die an early death now.”

Yet if someone like yourself eats a slice of cake you’re usually met with a rapturous “Slayyyyyy queeeen! Omg! Amazing! Inspirational! F*ck yeah! My idol!”

So until people of all sizes can eat a slice of cake with the same freedom you enjoy, it’s no longer enough to stand in your underwear and eat a packet of crisps to show the haters that you don’t give a damn. There are now hundreds of women out there doing that. And that was needed, but now you need to widen the goal posts once more.

Similarly, as an ambassador for NEDA, you are also in a position of trust to advocate for appropriate treatment, resources, and support for those battling eating disorders. As someone who lives with an eating disorder, I have to say, I feel you are failing in this duty; dangerously so. It is not enough to simply peddle techniques that worked for you in overcoming your eating disorder, especially without ensuring that those techniques are truly suitable and safe. To see you, for instance, partaking in an advert that promotes restrictive dieting and weight loss leaves me both speechless and distressed. It is completely irresponsible and incredibly dangerous. How can you say you want to help others overcome their demons, only to then align yourself with the devil itself? Young people look up to you. Vulnerable people look to you for guidance. It is on your shoulders to model safe and responsible behaviour. And in my opinion, restrictive diets and excessive exercise regimes of any kind are NEVER okay, particularly for people who have a history of disordered eating.

You have the opportunity to continue to push the boundaries, and show the full spectrum and diversity of body positivity. Because as with so many other things in life, we are no longer just A or B, we are the whole goddamn alphabet. There is a whole spectrum of beautiful out there, but you are still only portraying one gradient. Yes it’s your kind of beautiful, and that deserves to be celebrated, but you need to be celebrating the wider spectrum too.

You know how as women, we feel like most of what we say and do isn’t taken fully seriously by men? That some take note of what we say, some even deign to believe what we have to say, but generally, we’re made to feel like we just don’t count compared to them? And it doesn’t matter how loudly we shout something from the rooftops, we’re just not heard? Yet a man can say or do exactly as we have done, and suddenly everybody pays attention. Their ideas/actions are deemed valid, accepted, respected, and celebrated. Well that’s exactly what it’s like in the body positivity community for anybody outside the body type you represent. People of Colour, disabled people, trans people, plus size people, and many many more, are all shouting really important messages of self worth and body positivity, but we’re not being heard. We’re getting the pat on the back and the ‘there there’ treatment. So it’s infuriating and hurtful when we see yet another viral post of a straight-sized white woman grabbing her belly, or eating a cheeseburger, or proving that she has cellulite. Wonderful. But for every mainstream woman being celebrated, a valid, diverse representative has been silenced.

The body positivity movement isn’t here because of people like you, it’s here because of many wonderful fat activists who tried to make a difference, long before you or I even knew what body positivity was. Each of us in the body positivity movement now needs to be respectful of those who paved the way for us. By not thinking beyond yourself and the body type you represent, you are letting the team down. Worse, it’s like a joint school project where the other person does all the hard work, and you take the credit for it. Not cool.

I regularly see you say how much you want to use your position to create change, but all I see is a perpetuation of your platform of privilege. No, you are not perfect, but you are in the perfect position to make a real difference. So please, either make room for us on your platform, or step down and let somebody else have their chance to be heard and valued.

Yours sincerely

Michelle-Marie, on behalf of all the silenced and overshadowed members of the body positive community.

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