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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.

To be a black girl like me

We’re all connected –

Black girls of my generation,

Like coiled hair in box braids,

Like the stars in a constellation,

Like we’re in on a secret

They’ve tried to bury,

But when we unearthed it

They started to worry.

Told us it doesn’t matter.

Told us it’s worthless.

Told us it was of no consequence

Because that secret was us.

And possessing this truth

Even though it’s no privilege,

It’s another obligation

We have to learn how to deal with;

To protect each other

Like the buried treasure we’ve always been,

To make sure the secret gets out,

To make sure we don’t fall back in.

We’re precious jewels,

We’re diamonds in the rough,

We’re under pressure to conform,

Because we’re more than enough.

We don’t fit the mold of

Eurocentricity;

Our jagged edges

Can cut through anything.

We’re not angry, we’re sharp

And being silenced cuts deep.

The kind of power black girls hold

Is not a secret anyone can keep.

We’ve got dirt in our lungs,

We’ve got bruises on our skin,

We’ve got blood in our teeth,

You see, there’s pain in melanin.

Bruises are our heritage,

We’re hurt and we’re scarred,

But the ugliness of the world

Does not reflect who we are.

We are stars,

Burning bright, unheard

And untouchable,

We’re precious stones

Never left unturned

And unbreakable.

Black girls struggle.

Black girls rock.

Black girls are magic,

But black girls are not.

Black girls laugh.

Black girls cry.

Black girls go missing

And no one asks why.

Black girls are suffocating,

In ways no one understands.

Did anyone try to #BringBackOurGirls?

And #WhatHappenedToSandraBland?

It’s a big deal

To be born in this skin.

It’s not a club

To let Rachel Dolezal in.

There’s no instruction manual,

Just a lot of terms and conditions.

Rebellion is the biggest risk;

Freedom is the mission.

Black girls are Amandla, Zendaya

Keke, Solange, and Nicki;

Black girls are Laverne, Lupita

Quvenzhané, Willow, and Gabourey.

And you might think

In all your outgroup bias

That we’re all jealous of Kylie,

But she’ll never ever know

How awful and wonderful it is

To be a black girl like me.

-Chido

 

Image Source

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

Because

Inevitably, bitterness

Took over and

Consumed me the way

Hypocrites consumed church offerings

 

Because

I urged

To rebel against everything

Created to

Hinder me from saying these things

 

Because

It’s all

Too taboo, too

Cliché and

Heresy

 

Because

Insincerity is

Truth and

Cluelessness is safety and the manifestation of both

Harbors a relentless thirst for transparency

 

Because

Injustice

Turns softness into

Coarseness and lewdness into

Holiness

 

Because

Ignorance is a survival

Tactic

Carrying away women’s words and killing us

Haphazardly

 

Because

Inside me

The

Cracks are still

Healing

 

Because

Independence

Takes

Continuous

Hurt and bravery

 

Because all

I’m doing is

Toughening myself up and

Climbing out of the

Hole you buried me in

 

Because

In every language

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

Confused the word ‘bitch’ with

Heroine

 

Because a bitch

Isn’t

The worst thing that you

Can call me,

Honestly

-Chido

 

Image Source

#WhiteGirlsDoItBetter: White Feminism, Black Twitter, & Misogynoir

Just last week, the Twitter-sphere was invaded by the trending tag, #whitegirlsdoitbetter. Many of the pictures featured were of white women with “fat asses” twerking, or trying to at least, or posing haughtily with captions like “RT to ruin a black girl’s day” or “White girls winning” along with the infamous tag. The premise behind it is that black women are only good for their bodies, mainly having bigger butts than other races typically, but if white women also have large asses, there’s no longer use for black women. I’m pretty sure that thought process is what ruins our day more than white girls in butt pads.

Not soon after this blatant act of misogynoir started, Black Twitter swooped in to remedy the situation by serving the tea scalding hot and busting a few guts while they were at it. Many tweets focused on hot topics like cultural appropriation and the exclusion of women of color in mainstream feminism, otherwise known as white feminism. My favorite were tweets concerning Serena Williams’ recent win, leaving Maria Sharapova to humbly be gifted second place, because her win set off a chain of racialized body-shaming in the media that has actually been going on for the duration of her career, attempting to overshadow her tremendous accomplishments. Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.06.54 PM

Where are the lies?

 Screenshot_2015-07-14-13-56-20-1 Screenshot_2015-07-14-13-55-32-1 Black Instagram didn’t do so bad either. Screenshot_2015-07-14-13-35-25-1 Needless to say, Black Twitter was not happy. This is also not the first instance of rampant misogynoir on social media and misogynoir has been in existence for just as long as anti-Black racism has. Many instances happen, sadly, within the Black community, most specifically by cisgender straight black men who somehow manage to promote themselves as “pro-Black” while simultaneously upholding white supremacist respectability politics, praising Eurocentric beauty standards, and refusing to acknowledge the multitude of black people who identify with the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and therefore alienating the majority of black people in the world; however, this time we’re talking about white women.

Even though straight, white, cisgender men hold the most privilege in society, when white women fail to check their privilege or demonstrate acts of shameless racism, it can be a touchier subject. The reason being is that straight cisgender white women’s privilege is affected by one factor: sexism. The shared experiences of sexism and misogyny in patriarchal societies is what brings together women of all races, classes, sexual orientations, abilities or disabilities, and so forth, under the umbrella movement of feminism — or at least it’s supposed to. Things go awry when WCS (white cisgender straight)  women fail to check their privilege. Not all women’s struggles are the same: women of color experience racism and sexism simultaneously, the same way that lesbian/bisexual/pansexual/etc. women experience sexism and homophobia together and trans women experience sexism and transphobia, also known as transmisogyny. An example is the gender/race wage gap. wagegapbrokenupbyrace-011 We’ve often heard how women make .77 cents to a man’s dollar; meanwhile, only white women make that amount. Latina and Hispanic women make the least of all women and the only race of women who make more on average than white women are Asian women. White women even make more than all men of color. gr-race-earnings-624 This “oversight” or, the way I see it, purposeful omission, should completely change the way we talk about the wage gap, that’s if we don’t want to be done dirty like we were during the fight for women’s suffrage. Long story short, feminism has had a long history of white women claiming that “We’re all in this together” and then in the same breath, silence women of color and use our support to only benefit themselves.

So now along with the privelege and the persisting white feminism, we have a new generation of white women who are envious of the hyper-sexualization of black women and the lack of agency it affords us — yeah.Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 4.59.23 PM

It’s a twisted and tangled web of inferiority from internalized misogyny that actually almost has me feeling bad for white women — almost. In order to appease the male gaze and satisfy fickle male-dictated beauty standards, white women have resorted to tearing down black women for possessing the only things that black women have that white women don’t, according to society. Black women are often “praised” for their bodies: having big lips, big butts, tan skin (mostly where light-skinned black women are concerned), and curvy figures in general. My guess is that all white women have been in a coma since the beginning of colonization where they have been the standard of beauty that has been imposed on women of all races all over the world. Black women were ridiculed and shamed for their bodies, even put in human zoos, while white women were concurrently taking steps to imitate and appropriate those very same features (i.e. bustles). I’m sorry, did I say were? I mean are.

Then…

7_Human-zoo

Now…

 

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lily-allen-hard-out-here-twerking-video-still.jpg

mac23_amy-schumer_post.jpg

1417983531761-0.gif

All the above are examples of the objectification of black women by none other than white women.

Black women, especially those who posses these features that are so sought after by white women are systematically shamed and ridiculed in society, especially with racialized slut-shaming terms like hoe and thot, that assist the view that black women’s sexuality is dangerous and must be controlled while the media simultaneously exploits it. Yet, white women (and sometimes non-Black women of color), who either naturally have these features or acquire them artificially, are praised and are allowed to maintain sexual agency and bodily autonomy over themselves while being recognized as the epitome of beauty and feminine allure, both having the assumed purity and humanity of whiteness with the sexual allure of typically black features (i.e. Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Iggy Azalea).

Alright, so let’s recap shall we? White women are pretty much the most protected of all women,  society’s beauty standards are made to reflect them (big butts, big lips, and tan skin only “came into fashion” once they were achievable by white women), people of color, women of color especially, have less privelege than them, women of color have literally fought for their rights time and time again in the name of “feminism”, and yet, they feel the need to remind us of how they’re “winning” when women of color have been losing for centuries. Nice. #whitegirlsdoitbetter Screenshot_2015-07-12-09-34-28

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