How Loving My Body Has Made Me Learn About Race, Class, The Environment And Reproductive Health

When I started my journey of body acceptance last Summer, I wasn't expecting to learn so much about topics that weren't in the realm of body love/confidence/acceptance. Looking back knowing what I do now, I was very naive in thinking that these topics were not going to cross over, but they do, in more ways than I thought, and I feel so grateful that the lessons in loving my body have made me learn about so many other vitally important things that I was never actively taught. The body acceptance movement intersecrs with so many other things, and it should intersect; because I won't feel comfortable loving my body without knowing who came before me, who's getting left behind and how we can raise them up, how my body affects the earth, and how it affects my body.


Race

Since joining the body acceptance movement, the swathes of images that I have seen online depicting this movement have largely been from 'normal' and 'midsized' white women - people not too dissimilar from myself. I thought 'Oh how nice that this movement has been so welcomed by so many people'. And yes, it is wonderful that it has been welcomed by so many people, but we are forgetting where, whom, and why this movement started. Black women started the body positivity movement, and the movement has deep roots in colonialism.


The bodies of enslaved people were apparently different to those of the wealthy white colonisers (dear reader, they were not). To dehumanise enslaved people further, Europeans decided that the bodies of enslaved people were 'undesirable', 'fat', and 'obese', therefore leading the mostly women of European society to try their best to do everything in their power to not look like they people they so willingly enslaved, dehumanised, and exploited.


Moving into more recent times, body positivity has its roots in the Body Liberation Movement of the 1960's and 1970's, with organisations being created such as the NAAFA, and The Fat Underground.


In a fantastic article for Elle, blogger Stephanie Yeboah wrote “As body positivity became more mainstream, however, I noticed that the conversations were most often centered around white women. Arguably, much like the feminist movement, body positivity has become non-intersectional and prioritizes/celebrates the thoughts, feelings, opinions, and achievements of white women, with a small number of ‘token’ people of color to help fill up the ‘look at us being diverse!’ quota.”


This is why the body positivity movement needs to be intersectional, and very much intersectional when it comes to race. As a white woman, I strive to uphold and be a part of the intersectional conversation around body image, and to rise others up before myself.


Class

One thing I have definitely experienced as someone who is working class, is that it's so much easier to each cheap 'fast food' than healthier food. How does this relate to loving my body? As I have been learning to love my body, I've been thinking more about what I'd like to put into it. I want to eat more nutritious food, and I know that what I eat has a direct correlation to my body, but please don't sit there and tell me that eating a healthy diet is easy and affordable for everyone. I can buy a pizza at Aldi for under £1, and that's dinner sorted. Many people do not have the time or money to shop for and prepare food for themselves, or their family.


Class definitely plays a part in the body positivity movement, from where you can access or buy your food, to things like being able to afford a gym membership, to clothes that can fit you.


Environment

The intersectionality of the environment and my body is something that I wasn't expecting. Whilst connecting to my body, I found myself connecting to something else - the earth. My body, mind and spirit is most calm, tuned, and glowing when I'm out in nature. Connecting to mother nature through my body has been an almost spiritual experience for me, and it makes me feel like my true self. I feel it when the wind blows through my hair, when I feel the grass beneath my toes, when I feel the sea make me weightless.


Experiencing this love for nature through my body has made me focus more on the world around me. I'm a lot more in tune with environmental issues and how we can help our planet. All in all, it sounds a bit selfish and naieve that I'm connecting the most to nature because of how it makes myself, and myself alone, feel. Though, through this love and connection, I am empassioned to do everything I can to help protect the world we live in, and make it thrive for other generations, because through loving myself, I love the world.


Reproductive Health

This is one that has effected me quite recently. For a bit of context - I have had problems with contraceptives for a while now. I was on the pill whilst getting into a relationship with my now-boyfriend, andnit worked well... until it didn't. I all of a sudden couldn't stop bleeding. Then, the pandemic hit in March 2020, and we were all put into lockdown. I couldn't;t access birth control, and came off the pill, and the bleeding stopped. In October of 2020, wanting to protect myself from an unplanned pregnancy, I got the Nexplanon implant.


Dear reader, if you are thinking about getting the impant, then I really wish you don't have the experience I've had. Since October 2020, I have not stopped bleeding. My poor body... I also have come to believe that the implant has lead to an increase in anxiety, as this was something that I have never experienced prior to having a hormonal contraceptive, and it's not nice.


As of writing this, I am scheduled for an appointment to have the implant taken out, and I'm incredibly excited and nervous all at the same time.


Letting my body 'reset' is something I am greatly looking forward to. As I have come to appreciate my body and all it can do, I do think it is something that it deserves. I'm very much empowered by the fact that there are a lot of ways that I can choose to protect my body from an unwanted pregnancy, but a lot still has to be done on this front - issues that relate to class, gender, race, and environment. You see, it's all linked.



This is why body acceptance/positivity/neutrality needs to be intersectional. How can I love my body if I know others aren't allowed to love theirs? How can I love my body if I know myself and others can't access the foods we need to nourish it? How can I love my body when the world that gives us life and energy is being destroyed? How can I love my body when people can't choose a path of health that's right for them?


It's all linked.