Hello and welcome to my first Bookending Summer prompt! I loved participating in Bookending Spring earlier this year, and I was so excited to be picked as a host this time around. (Fun fact: this was actually the last prompt I came up with, after Clo @ Book Dragons suggested something to do with body positivity.)
Swimsuit season is here, but you don’t need any special diets or workout routines to prepare. Media plays a huge role in making us think otherwise, though — discuss what constitutes body positivity in books, what you’d like to see more of, any recommendations for body-positive books, et cetera.
This post is part of Bookending Summer 2019, which is organized by Sam & Clo! Today’s prompt, “Every Body Is A Beach Body,” is hosted by yours truly — so if you do this prompt don’t forget to link back to this post!
Before we begin …
My intention in writing this post isn’t to offend or to pretend that I’m more informed on the issue than I actually am, so hopefully it doesn’t come across that way.
Please correct me if anything I write here is incorrect and/or harmful; I have little personal experience in this area but genuinely do want to learn and do better in future.
What is body positivity?
In the process of researching body positivity for this post, I realized I had an incorrect idea of what the movement entailed. So just to make sure everyone’s on the same page: body positivity was not meant to be about “all bodies”, despite how it’s been co-opted and refocused. It is by and for fat people. Of course everyone deserves to feel positively about their body! But the idea that “body positivity is for everyone” has been compared to “All Lives Matter” — it’s not objectively untrue, but it’s missing the point entirely.
How should body positivity be included in media?
Changing the status quo is always tricky, but as with any other type of diversity my basic position on the issue is that, ideally and eventually, fat characters should be represented in a variety of experiences.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with storylines related to self-acceptance or facing down bullies, and for some readers those plots will be cathartic and relatable. But plus-size people are people: their physique doesn’t define them, and it’s certainly not the only story that they can or should be included in.
As a queer person of color, I love fantasy where diversity is just another aspect of the worldbuilding — when I’m reading for escapism, it’s nice to see a world without the allocisheteronormativity or discrimination that I deal with in real life. So it’s not difficult to imagine that this could also be applied to body image and fat characters.
Unfortunately, I actually can’t think of any examples of body positive representation in anything I’ve read or watched lately. It’s definitely something I’ll be working to rectify, but recommendations for where to start would be greatly appreciated!
Have you read any great body-positive books recently? What would you like to see more of, with regards to body positivity, in books published from here on out?
If you do this prompt, please don’t forget to link back to my post!