As Toal argues, using body positivity as an umbrella to include bodies that are already deemed conventionally attractive, defeats the purpose.
Ospina agrees. She told Revelist that body-positivity activism used to focus on marginalized communities, including differently-abled, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and fat people, but that has changed.
"I don't really think mainstream 'body positivity' is a tagline associated with activism at all. The idea of 'all bodies are good bodies' is at the core of it. Which, obviously, all bodies are good bodies! But the focus is no longer on the people who need it most: On the ones that society, by and large, does not treat as good."
To fix this, Your Fat Friend said that focusing the movement back on those who have "borne the brunt of broad negative attitudes," like people with disabilities, fat people, trans people, and people of color, is important. It also requires removing the focus from the concept of fat-shaming, according to Your Fat Friend:
As body positivity has become more mainstream, so has the concept of fat shaming. Unfortunately, the majority of media attention on fat shaming has focused on thin women inaccurately being called fat. Being called fat can cause real emotional pain for some, and many experience it as bullying. But when you are fat, that bullying is institutionalized, cemented in policies, and often publicly condoned.
Some, like queer fatshion blogger Bethany Rutter, argue that "body positivity" must stop focusing on the "all bodies are good bodies" mantra.
In an interview with Bustle, Ruttler said that "body positivity has been so co-opted so comprehensively as to have become meaningless."
"Fat people are hired less, paid less, have poorer access to medical care, are intensely ostracized in all forms of media," Ruttler said. "We need to specifically name the stigma and hatred that puts us in that position, not have it erased by thin women who want a piece of the action without having to deal with any of the stigma."
That's what fat activists are often fighting for, according to Your Fat Friend, a fat acceptance writer.
"Policy changes are absolutely a concern for fat activists," they said. "In the vast majority of the US, it is perfectly legal to deny someone a job or a place to live because they are fat. Some doctors set weight limits on the patients they will agree to treat. Airlines can refuse to seat us, even as they continue to reduce the size of their seats."
Your Fat Friend is right: Currently, Michigan is the only state that prohibits discrimination on the basis of weight or size. Expanding those legal protections matter to fat acceptance activists.
No matter what the disagreements are, what is clear is that fat acceptance and body positivity still have more work to do. As Ospina eloquently concluded:
"If your body positivity is only about fashion, if your body positivity only celebrates conventionally attractive bodies, if your body positivity erases WOC, visibly fat people, differently-abled people, LGBTQIA+ people, non-hourglass-shaped fat people, if your body positivity does not consider how fat shaming intersects with classism (not to mention sexism, racism, and ableism), if your body positivity celebrates diet culture or frames 'health' as a moniker of acceptance and a beauty standard of its own, if your body positivity is about #fitspo or #thinspo or #thinisbeautifultoo, then I think it's falling short.
As with feminism, an approach to body positivity that refuses to acknowledge hierarchies of privilege, learn from those more marginalized, and fight for those more marginalized is missing something pretty crucial."This story has been updated with comment from Stephanie Yeboah and Corissa Enneking.