5 Reasons Why #BodyGoals Can Never Be Body Positive

Why tagging your fave’s pic as #goals may actually be problematic and harmful to your self-image

Having goals is always a good thing, right? Goals mark a desire for self-improvement and suggest a level of self-awareness and agency that is necessary in success-driven adulthood. That being said, many of us may recall that the latter half of 2015 was met with many feminist critiques of #SquadGoals as it mostly pertained to Taylor Swift’s exclusive army of her famous female friends. The problem with #goals begins when goals are based on appearances and you think critically of what is being placed as the juxtaposition to such ideals.

By now #BodyGoals has been a trending tag for a while, re-surging in popularity every time Kim Kardashian posts a nude selfie or after Teyana Taylor’s groundbreaking performance in Kanye West’s “Fade” music video debut at the 2016 VMA’s. Something about the hashtag always made me cringe but I did not know how to approach the subject, not even with my friends. I once asked them “What does that mean? What does it mean for someone’s body to be goals?” It felt like a really stupid question to ask but a part of me just felt like I needed to talk about it aloud. I was met with mostly confused looks, as I predicted, but one of my friends turned to me and said simply, “It means body goals, it means I want my body to look like hers.”

My friend’s response took me back to where I was in my first year of college, scrolling through Tumblr at 3 am past images of sad-looking emaciated women who had decided to share their suffering with other people online to “inspire” us to take the route they’ve chosen to take with their body image or succumb to their eating disorders in hopes of achieving and/or maintaining our collective #goal, to be skinny. Once I drew this parallel it was easier for me to recognize why hearing other people’s #BodyGoals always made me cringe and why it never has been nor ever will be body positive.

  1. #BodyGoals is the new #Thinspo

Yes, there are some stark differences between #BodyGoals and #Thinspo like for one #BodyGoals does not suggest any dangerous practices or self-harm to achieve such goals and #BodyGoals don’t necessarily have to denote someone thin. Ashley Graham has been tagged repeatedly as many women’s #goals, especially this year and last year as she’s reached a heightened level of visibility and has achieved so many accolades that no size 16 woman ever has before. However, I still do not count this as a victory and I don’t think Ashley Graham would either. Most plus-size models and bloggers identify as being body positive advocates, meaning they want to eradicate the standard, not replace it. Many people may think that wanting to look like Ashley Graham is automatically body positive, not considering that someone who’s a size 20 wanting to be a size 16 is not much different than someone who is a size 8 wanting to be a size 4. It’s true that there is a motley of ideal body types being promoted at the moment rather than just one, but promoting multiple ideals is very different from promoting body acceptance. #BodyGoals, just like #Thinspo and #Fitspo, is just a way to get images of socially accepted ideals in one place and promotes longing and personal dissatisfaction with our bodies in order to essentially torture ourselves because we don’t look the way society says we should look or refuse to love ourselves until we achieve said goals.

  1. #BodyGoals implies your body needs improvement

From reading my previous point you may think that I believe it’s wrong for people to want to improve their bodies. The question is, what qualifies as an improvement? Flat stomach? Six-pack abs? Wider hips? Being toned? Augmented breasts? Smaller thighs? Bigger butt? Does that mean that people who have these qualities have better bodies than those who don’t? Does that mean if you don’t have these qualities your body will always be a work in progress or a problem to be solved? How can that be body positive? #BodyGoals implies that some bodies are better than other bodies and some bodies are #goals and others need to be focused on becoming those goals.

Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to want to change your body to look a way in which you feel you could navigate space more comfortably or even just for fashion or aesthetics. It’s your body and you can do whatever you want with it. If your definition of #BodyGoals are a picture of a celeb that you’re going to show to your plastic surgeon to describe what you want done, that’s perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change your body, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look different than you do naturally. The problem is the language often surrounding these changes that places body types in a hierarchy, where there is a 1% of body types that the 99% should be striving towards.

  1. #BodyGoals promotes diet culture and diet culture is not body positive

One of my fave bloggers, Corissa Enneking of @fatgirlflow recently faced an immense amount of internet backlash for posting a video declaring that dieting is not body positive and because her stance is so nuanced, many people could not understand her firm stance against it. Still, whether or not you agree with her declaration, it is clear to see why at least diet culture cannot be body positive. Diet culture essentially describes how the multi-million dollar dieting industry manipulates us into thinking that thinness is equivalent to being a happy, healthy, and productive members of society, even though dieting has often been proven to be unhealthy and counter-intuitive for several reasons, and being fat is a crime. #BodyGoals is diet culture’s new hot hashtag. Images of celebrities and athletes in combination with this tag is free advertising for all types of diet and weight-loss medications and regimens – the promise of being happier, loved, and accepted written as a fine print no-money-back guarantee in each caption section.

  1. #BodyGoals =/= health goals

“But what about being healthy?” a mysterious voice from out of the blue always asks. Not to trivialize the importance of physical health, but let’s be honest, most people only want to stress being healthy when it comes to fat people. There is no way that #BodyGoals can be used to describe someone’s goals for becoming healthier because healthy is not a body type. You can be a vegan and be a size 22, you can be a size 14 yoga instructor, you can be a size 2 and eat a diet of strictly Taco Bell, your size is not an indication of your health – period. When we equate the way someone’s body looks with how healthy someone is, it creates room for ignorance in the name of health promotion, aka “concern trolling”, that is used to perpetuate fatphobia and further marginalize fat people in society.

  1. #BodyGoals places too much emphasis on outward appearances

Your body is a vessel not an accomplishment or a goal. Your body is what you use to accomplish your goals. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and loving the way you look is essential to many aspects of your life, but the purpose of body positivity is to no longer be bogged down by society’s expectations of our appearances to the point that it detracts from what you have to offer as a person, aside from the necessary dismantling of capitalistic, patriarchal, cis- and heteronormative, ableist, and white supremacist beauty standards. We shouldn’t have to squeeze into a mold in order for us to be taken seriously or accepted. Our looks do not determine our value or whether or not we deserve respect. Our goals should pertain to character development, success in our careers, relationships with loved ones, community outreach, charity and organization, and so on. So, I propose that in 2017 we set more meaningful goals that are a lot less problematic.


Misogyny is not a compliment.

So forgive me if this post sounds more like a rant than usual but I am very heated right now.

It was two weeks ago. There’s this boy that I go to school with who has not so subtly let me know that he’s interested in me. He’s a bit irritating but also very sweet, usually, so I try to be as friendly as possible. Anyway, I and a friend of mine were sitting in the library working on our final projects when the boy came and began to work on his final projects as well. He was his usual self, going out of his way to make conversation and I, as usual, entertained him to the extent that I could allow myself to because, again, he’s sweet kid. Even though I really was trying to be nice, the occasional snide remark does escape me here and there and my friend chastised me about my supposed rudeness. I disagreed with her assessment of my behavior, but I began to try extra hard to be nicer even though I had no interest in this boy, whatsoever, because again, he’s a sweet kid. That was until the point came that he wasn’t.

He mentioned how he wanted to go to McDonald’s to get something to eat and in making the politest conversation that I could manage and in truthfulness, I added that I could really go for some McDonald’s french fries.

“No, you don’t need to be eating McDonald’s french fries” he said.

“Why not?” I asked him.

“Yeah, why the fuck not?” my friend chimed in after me.

“Because those fries will make you gain weight.”

“And? I care because…?” I asked sharply.

“Because I like you the way you are. I don’t want you to lose weight and I don’t want you to gain weight either.”

My shoulders tensed up but I pursed my lips and said nothing at the moment. I know that he did not say or mean this maliciously in the slightest, but the way he meant his comment to be received was irrelevant. My friend, in shock, let him know that he didn’t win any points with me with that remark. Puzzled, he continued to insist that my body was good the way that it was and that he just wanted to assure me that in his eyes, he saw no need for me to make or have the desire to make any alterations to my body.

“The problem is that I don’t give a fuck what you think and I’m going to eat whatever the fuck I want because it is my body” I said, sternly but still noticeably restrained from my usual “angry black girl” self.

I wasn’t looking at his face because I was working on the computer and I had no intention of wasting my precious time just to entertain someone I was thoroughly uninterested in, so I could not tell if he got the message or not. Either way, he dropped the subject and I was fine.

Since the friend that I was with at the time agreed that he was overstepping flirting territory straight into being “rude” (a word she uses a little too much and often too freely but in this case, I’d say rude is a bit of an understatement) it did not occur to me that some people might find my taking offense to be uncalled for.

Here are the phrases that stood out to me as I recounted the story amongst some of my other friends:

  • “It was a compliment.”
    • Is it a compliment? Is it really? I don’t see the compliment in his misogynistic entitlement to tell me what I should and should not eat. As if the reason why I eat the way I do or look the way I do in general is for him, or for anyone else for that matter, but myself. The parallels can be drawn to men who request that women wear minimal or no makeup because “we look good just the way we are” or they like “natural beauty”. Excuse the fuck outta me. Most women do not wear makeup, or dress up, or do their hair, or do anything for the sole purpose of pleasing men. Women’s sole purpose of existing is not for the pleasure of men, but way too many men still think that it is. Also, a true compliment is devoid of instructions, requests, or demands. A compliment is simply, you look nice today or you are beautiful. It would no longer be a compliment if someone said, “I don’t want you to cut or dye your hair because I like it just the way it is.” That may be how you feel, but you are insinuating that your opinions about that person’s hair is of so much consequence that they should make decisions about their own features in order to satisfy your preferences. The context in which he presented that he “likes me the way I am” is what stripped the comment of its compliment quality and turned it into misogyny.
  • “You’re being too high maintenance.”
    • “High maintenance” is one of those infamous sexist buzz words used to condemn women for expressing human behaviors that society deems should be exclusively masculine. See: bossy: a woman who leads; takes charge, crazy: a woman who expresses any emotion other than happy or content, bitch: a woman who stands up for herself, slut/prude: a woman who practices her sexuality at her own discretion, and high maintenance: a woman who has any type of standards/preferences concerning the person that she dates; a woman who expects to be treated with respect by the person she is dating. A man who steers clear of a woman who is interested in him but has offended him in some way is dodging a bullet by avoiding a “crazy bitch”; a woman who steers clear of a man who is interested in her but has offended her is “high maintenance” because “he’s a nice guy” and she should “just give him a chance”. The double standards are endless.
  • “You should be flattered that he said he likes you the way you are.”
    • Now let me be absolutely clear, this post is about women in general, but there is an important independent variable that has affected the outcome in my case. I am not a skinny girl. I am curvy, thick, plus-size, or whatever euphemism people prefer to use these days. I usually just say fat. That is why I should be so “flattered” that someone likes me the way that I am because according to society, no one is supposed to like me the way that I am. Men are supposed to flock to thinner girls than myself, and most of them do, so the fact that he is even the least bit interested in me should be something that I should be grateful for in many people’s eyes. That is why I am being “high maintenance” because I am asking for too much as a fat woman, to want a guy to be both impressed by my physical appearance and to not be an asshole about it. That is why I should take what he said as a compliment because most guys would prefer me to lose weight so the fact that he doesn’t is a miracle and the least that I could do is not push my limits and maintain a stable diet regimen to continue to be at least one man’s idea of acceptable.

Allow me to also mention that this is not the first time I’ve gotten a “compliment” of this caliber. I once was out with a guy who said that I am “the perfect size” because I am “not too big and I’m not too small” and that I’m “probably only 30 pounds away from being a size 12”. I felt that it stopped being a compliment after the words “perfect size”. In my ears, all I heard was a voice shouting into a megaphone announcing “You have reached the fatness limit! Do not cross! Do not gain weight! Any normal human fluctuation of body mass is unacceptable!” Being a size 14/16 I guess it is understandable that people may see me as tiptoeing on the line between fat and not fat, so I guess that is why men feel the need to let me know just how fine a line they think that I’m dancing and that if I hope to gain their affections, I should not falter.

I want to be heard loud and clear when I say that I will never apologize for being fat. I will not expect less from men regarding anything including, but not limited to, respect because of my fatness. I will not hold men to lower standards, I will not act like I am worth less than any other woman because of my fatness, or my blackness, or for any other reason because I know my worth and I know what I deserve and if someone else does not, that is not my problem. I ain’t finna let any fuckboy roll up on me any type of way, not now, not ever.

So to summarize, in the words of Tyra Banks:



What is Beauty?

Beauty is an ideal sought after worldwide. People both live and die for beauty. For some beauty is tangible and for others it’s more abstract, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is regarded in one way or another by most living beings. In fact, to disregard beauty and its importance almost always has to be a conscious choice, whereas to praise the elements and characteristics that are deemed the most desirable to whomever it may concern is implicit; it’s just a way of life.

Why is beauty so important to us?

That’s a root I’m sure many of us would like to dig up, at least anyone who has spent as much time considering it as I have, but I feel that the answer, or answers, to that question lie in the definition(s) of beauty itself.

I’m attempting an eight part segment to attempt to explain all the definitions of beauty as I’ve pondered them in my poster-clad dorm room while eating French Fries and drinking Arizona. I’m neither an expert nor am I a sociologist or an anthropologist or anything of the sort, I’m just someone who’s been wondering things and wondering if people are wondering the same things I’m wondering.

Think of this series as more of a discussion than anything; interaction and feedback is more than welcome so long as it is constructive.

B.I.T.C.H. part 5


Inevitably, bitterness

Took over and

Consumed me the way

Hypocrites consumed church offerings



I urged

To rebel against everything

Created to

Hinder me from saying these things



It’s all

Too taboo, too

Cliché and




Insincerity is

Truth and

Cluelessness is safety and the manifestation of both

Harbors a relentless thirst for transparency




Turns softness into

Coarseness and lewdness into




Ignorance is a survival


Carrying away women’s words and killing us




Inside me


Cracks are still







Hurt and bravery


Because all

I’m doing is

Toughening myself up and

Climbing out of the

Hole you buried me in



In every language

There’s a word for ‘bitch’, but too long have we

Confused the word ‘bitch’ with



Because a bitch


The worst thing that you

Can call me,




Image Source

B.I.T.C.H. part 4

Because being African had many


That I had no


How to apply to my “Americanized” ass



I don’t speak

The language and it feels weird to

Call it



Because the motherland

Is a stranger


Conquered by strangers who now try to

Heal us from the very afflictions they gave us



In America we

Think they still wear the traditional garb they scoff at us for, but on the

Contrary, they wear the assimilated attitudes they forced into our




It’s not just a migration, it’s a



Has more to do with our minds than our land


Because when

I say

That all was taken from us, don’t

Correct me. Who are you if your own mind

Hates who you are and loves those who slaughtered you?


Because my home

Is not home because it was

Taken from me and I was rescued from it. They

Created this

Hell-hole for us and then we come running into their arms


Because this

Isn’t home either.



Harbors only bad intentions towards me


Because Euro-Americans taught me my

Identity was

Tough and undesirable, like the

Cuts of meat that gets shoved on your plate so you just

Have to eat it



I don’t belong

To either world; I’ve been

Cut down the middle and I feel utterly




I’m estranged from my mother

Tongue, doomed to be

Characterized by a language that possesses only

Hostility towards me



I was spoon fed blind loyalty


Capitalism, racism, sexism, and all other systems set up to erase my




I was

Tricked into submission

Cloaked in patriotism

Handled with kid gloves used for orphans like me


Because a bitch


The worst thing that you

Can call me,




Image Source

B.I.T.C.H. part 3



The evening, restlessness and dissatisfaction

Came and

He drank himself to sleep






He drove home drunk too often


Because another day of his

Insufficient life was harder


Consider than being responsible for



Because the way he

Imagined life

To be, wasn’t at all what it was, so he


His heartache with the bottle



Imbibing alcohol like



Healing for the time being


Because by morning time all

Inexcusable acts would be forgotten and

Tolerance granted pleasant amnesty, but my sobriety

Couldn’t allow me to forget all the words

He said to me



Inexplicable sadness overcame me when he

Told me


How much he sees himself in me



I knew he spoke

Truthfully whenever he

Cried he loved me

He did indeed



Intoxication was

The only thing he

Clearly loved more than

He loved me


Because a bitch


The worst thing that you

Can call me,




Image Source

B.I.T.C.H. part 2


In order

To be

Considered whole, I must only be

Half myself and find a way to dispose of the rest



I prayed to be thinner more

Than I prayed to live longer despite the

Curse promised for those who do not

Honor thy father and mother


Because she

Insisted upon making me everything

That I

Could never be: waif-like, obedient, and

Happy to be nothing more than a wife to be


Because nothing

I could ever

Think or do

Could ever disappoint

Her more than the way I looked



I regretted

The way my appearance

Caused so much pain and

Heartbreak in her


Because the

Internalization of self-loathing

Turned all the blood between us into

Callousness in the name of brutal



Because the most

I can achieve with

The woman who gave me life is

Cordiality at best and

Heavy silence for the sake of self-preservation



I learned from her, not only how

To obsess over

Calories, but also

How to kill someone with words


Because a bitch


The worst thing that you

Can call me,




Image Source


Netflix & Binge: My personal struggle with an eating disorder I didn’t know existed

***TW: eating disorders

This is a continuation of my previous post where I gave some background on my body image issues.

On top of my ongoing issues with my body that I packed and brought with me to my dorm building in the lower east side, I also unpacked and resided in trigger city.

I had already felt bad that my pre-college diet was in all accounts unsuccessful, I was still heavily influenced by the thinspo I was following on social media, and my mothers voice replayed in my head like an overplayed pop song on the radio every time I went to take a bite of food. I was good at putting up fronts and pretending to be confident and self-actualized as I had done for a long time. Nevertheless, my body image issues were further forced to the surface when I realized that all the girls I lived with had really unhealthy attitudes about their bodies as well. The only difference was that they didn’t mind sharing.

I watched as my roommate routinely restricted her calorie intake to only 500 calories a day and agonized as she stared at her reflection in the mirror every day as she got dressed. My suite-mate similarly kept anal accounts of her calorie intake and measured herself daily to see if any parts of her were decreasing. Too many of the girls I went to school with were also so openly fretful about their weight and size. The kicker was that my roommate was half my size and my suite-mate about a third of it, along with most of the girls in my classes for that matter. I frequently offered hypocritical words of encouragement to try to ensure them both that they were beautiful just the way they are, and I honestly thought they were, but it was impossible not to consider myself, being noticeably bigger than they were.

Calorie-counting became taxing and tedious to me now that I was faced with a full schedule and a sizable amount of homework. Some days I would eat only small bits of food and other days I would starve myself throughout the day. The days that I starved myself, I found that my morale would go way down and I’d just associate the negative feelings with having a bad day, because I frequently did have bad days, but not with the deprivation. My favorite cure for a bad day was to watch Netflix alone late into the night.

Whenever I watched Netflix, I never just watched Netflix.

Before long, I was in a steady routine: I would starve myself during the day or eat very little, come back home from school feeling horrible, so I’d go to the Walgreen’s and buy snacks and go to the corner store and buy ice cream and on top of that I’d either order food from the Seamless app or find a fast food restaurant nearby. I’d often buy more than I intended to eat, telling myself that I would save money by getting a couple things and saving some as leftovers for the next day, but each night I would eat what I wanted to eat and what I didn’t want to eat. I ate even if I wasn’t hungry. I ate past the point of being full. I ate even though the food didn’t taste good or like food at all. I ate until everything I could get my hands on was gone. I ate even though I didn’t want to eat. I ate in the dark while my roommate slept on an empty stomach. I ate and I ate and I ate.

The moment I would stop eating I felt like the world body-slammed itself back onto my shoulders. Usually I would cry, feeling guilty for reversing the progress I thought I had made after eating very little or starving myself that day. I would write about my self-loathing in my diary and cry myself to sleep.

Not once did I ever think about how out of control my overeating was. It didn’t happen every day, but it was usually at least 2 times a week.The days I didn’t do it I didn’t think about it and the days I did do it, I didn’t think about what I was doing until afterwards when the guilt set in. All I knew is that I had pain and I wanted it to go away, and momentarily it did, but right after everything came back in my face full force.

I had only ever heard the word “binge” in reference to the compulsory eating of someone with Bulimia Nervosa in all the many instances that we learned about it in school and usually the word “purge” followed. The word binge had also been just recently adopted to describe watching all the seasons of a show on Netflix in an obscenely short amount of time. If there was any binge-ing I knew I was guilty of, it was definitely the binge-watching. I didn’t consider the uncharacteristic amounts of food I was consuming in short periods of time anything but just that.

So it continued this way throughout the entire semester. It continued when I had to leave The New School after that first semester because my family could no longer afford it. It continued when I sat at home feeling like I hit rock bottom after having to leave my dream school. It continued when I got a job at the Walgreen’s near my house and isolated myself from all my friends because of how embarrassed I was by the setback. It continued when my mom got my best friend’s mom to talk to me because she thought I was depressed and made it a point to have her point out that it may be the cause of the obvious weight gain. It continued when one of the managers pointed out how I may have had trouble finding jobs before (because I did) because of my size. It continued when I was physically sexually harassed by one of my customers. Even though I stopped starving myself or trying in any way to lose weight, it continued in secret and unacknowledged for about 6 months steadily. It felt like a normal part of life.

The first time that the possibility that I may have a problem ever crossed my mind was when I became a feminist. New to the feminist movement, I was working on trying to be more intersectional and I found myself reading about eating disorders and about what they are and what they’re not. I only expected to be reading about Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa; I was surprised when I saw a third disorder listed: Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

I had never ever heard about BED ever in my life. As I slowly scrolled through the article I had the stark realization that the characteristics of the disorder were painfully familiar. At first I dismissed it, feeling like I was just being a hypochondriac and looking for problems that weren’t there. I pretty much dismissed the disease in general feeling that if the “binge” wasn’t followed by a “purge” then it’s not actually an ED.

Still I couldn’t completely dismiss the fact that I frequently did everything that the article said I did. I began to promise myself to assess my motives every time I went to eat; I made myself promise myself that if I’m not hungry, I won’t eat, and if I am hungry, I’ll stop when I’m full. For a little while, I was able to deal with the problem that I still couldn’t fully admit to myself that I had. However, it wasn’t long before the next big trigger drove me back into old habits.

By the end of last year I think I finally fully accepted what it was but still to this day I haven’t ever said it aloud or told anyone. Even though I have coping skills that I’ve employed and tactics I use to avoid triggers, I still struggle with it from time to time and I know it’s largely because I have to seek professional help. Being African and knowing how my family is in particular has been largely what deters me from seeing someone about it because I know how important familial support can be with ED’s and I know that I won’t have that.

But like the hypocrite I am, I urge that if there’s anyone reading this and you do have an ED or you even speculate that you have one, please please PLEASE, go talk to someone and go get help. Trying to deal with it on your own is never the best option and, for many people, it does not work at all. Know that ED’s or any other psychological disorders are not your fault. Know that even though they can be triggered by your environment and/or emotional trauma, it is not a choice, it’s a disease. And know that most importantly, recovery is possible!

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