This weekend I was at a conference for the Society for Analytical Feminism, held in Lowell, MA, a 30-minute drive from my house. Samantha and Tracy, our Fit is a Feminist Issue Founders, were there, along with a bunch of guest bloggers (who are also fellow feminist philosophers).
The conference (which is still going on this morning) was tremendous. There were talks on topics ranging from the nature of suffering to police brutality against trans women of color to what linguistic slurs against women are really doing.
But what I want to share here is not what I learned from these fantastic and insightful talks and discussions. Which is a lot. But I learned something else, too.
I learned that it’s great to be in an atmosphere where I feel like no one is judging me for the body I have. Of course I felt that way in part because I’m pretty sure no one WAS judging me.
I had entered a Body Positivity Zone.
The Body Positivity Zone is a marvelous place. There you see all sorts of bodies, clad in all sorts of clothing (some of them with really killer shoes), moving through space as if nothing is wrong with them. How are they doing that?
Because nothing IS wrong with them. Their bodies– which are bigger and smaller, shorter and taller, younger and older, of a variety of hues and hairstyles–are doing their various jobs, and looking pretty cool. And apparently, mine is among those.
I had an inkling that I might be headed for a Body Positive Zone on Friday morning, when I was getting dressed to go to the conference (via the airport to pick up Tracy). As I was commencing my usual minor fussing and fretting over what to wear for the conference, the thought occurred to me: wait a minute. I’m seeing Tracy and Samantha. They will be glad to see me and won’t care/notice what my actual weight or body fat distribution happens to be that day. I can just pick clothing I like, and not worry about covering or compensating for spots that I feel vulnerable about. Whoa.
So I wore comfortable clothing (basically the same sort of outfit I usually wear). But I didn’t add my usual accessories of insecurity and body shame. I left them at home. And it felt pretty damn good.
Unfortunately, not everyone at the conference knew that it was a Body Positivity Zone. I had a few conversations with other feminist philosophers about my work (I work on body weight, obesity– a term I don’t like– and health behavior change). Once I mentioned the o-word, a few people confessed their negative feelings about their bodies and frustration with what they saw as a disconnect between eating in ways they considered healthy and what their bodies looked like.
Oh yeah, I get this.
But what I wanted to say to them was: Hey– you don’t have to worry about anything body-related! Not here. Not today. You’re in a Body Positivity Zone.
Someone should have put up signs. Here’s one:
A final thought: it’s worth expanding the Body Positivity Zone to include where we all live. How do we do this? I’ll be thinking and writing about this more. and I welcome your comments. Where do you encounter body positivity in your lives? Do you carry it with you? Do you need to congregate with others to find it? I’d like to know what you think.