How to take part in a movement that’s not ‘for you’

Body Positivity movement taking part

The Body Positivity movement and me

I guess the best place to start this blog post from is a personal one. As you can see, I have a slim build, I guess you could call me conventionally attractive? I’ve never been ‘body shamed’, people don’t see my body type as a burden on society and I can easily step into a high street shop, or browse my favourite fashion blogs and find a wealth of clothing items that I know will fit me, and look great on. So, when it comes to the Body Positivity movement, it was definitely not created for people like me.

But…that doesn’t mean I can’t, or shouldn’t engage with it. And when it comes to celebrating and promoting movements that aren’t created ‘for us’ I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it. It’s easy to take inspiration from a movement, and use it to improve your relationship with yourself (or others) then give yourself a pat on the back and shout on social media about how clued in you are to said movement. But, the issue with this is that it can often dilute the message of the movement, and reduce the voices of those it was created for, instead of amplifying them.

So, I thought I would share some of the things I keep in mind when promoting a movement that isn’t ‘for me’.

being body positive as a slim person

Understanding the history of a movement

This is incredibly important, and I think it’s the first hurdle that a lot of people fall at. The names of movements can easily become buzzwords, and people will throw them around with little concern for their origins or what the movement was created to do. Nothing annoys me more than a perfectly posed underwear shot using #BodyPositive when the person behind it has tweeted about how hard their working on their ‘Summer body’ diet just days before.

If you’re going to get behind a movement, make sure you understand why it was created and everything that it embodies. Movements are about making real change, not getting more likes on a photo, so it’s important that their message is clear and not hijacked for personal gain. Do research into why a movement was created, who created it, and who the loudest voices are within it. Listen to, and read about those who are a big part of the movement and support them. Engage with content that embodies the movement. And, if you are going to start sharing your own content as part of the movement, maybe give credit to who, or what, inspired you to get involved and the origins of the movement.

Elevate voices already within a movement

I think this is really important. Sometimes, you don’t need to add your own voice or images to a movement. If you benefit from white/slim/male privilege then people most likely do not need to hear you sharing your opinions on Black Lives Matter, Body Positivity or #MeToo. In fact, if you are the privileged one, I think the best thing you can do is highlight those who have already contributed positively to a movement. Introduce your audience to their voices, and encourage them to listen to what they have to say.

I think some of the best ways you can do this is on social media, in the form of Twitter threads or Instagram Stories. And it’s a great way to show your support for a movement without diluting the message.

Remember, it’s not about you

So you really don’t need to tell everyone about how many black friends you have and how much you love them, how you’ve learnt to love your non-curvy, slim build or how you have a sister/friend/daughter and couldn’t bare for them to experience a sexual assault all under the guise of ‘supporting’ a movement. I mean, sure, say what you like but don’t promote it as you taking part in a movement that was not created for you.

As human beings, we are pretty egotistical so the idea of our voices not being important can be hard to swallow. But, sometimes it is better to not add to a conversation, and instead elevate those who can talk from a position of experience.

It’s great to support a movement, and get behind it, just make sure you’re doing it in a way that is respectful to its origins and the people it was created for.