Producer and activist Lindsay McGlone agrees, noting that, though body positivity is supposed to work toward equal treatment of all bodies and allowing those marginalized to take up space, it’s not the reality she’s observed or experienced. “As a fat, queer woman, I align myself with body positivity, but it still centers itself around body types that are not marginalized and as a way to capitalize on fat diets, weight loss shakes, and unrealistic goals,” she notes of the movement—and Lizzo has actually said the same.
There are other key players in the unraveling of body positivity, though, such as innocent-seeming viral video trends. “The ‘hot girl walk’ trend or ‘what I eat in a day’ trend can be unintentionally harmful,” says Gigi Robinson, a mental health and body image advocate. “I have seen young people begin to obsess over routines—[such as] a caloric deficit diet plus ‘hot girl walks’ to lose 20 pounds or create abs—leading to disordered eating and poor self-esteem and body image.”
At least those who fall victim to these trends will continue to see diverse body types in the media…right? Not necessarily—bringing us back to why “Bye Bye Booty” is so much more harmful than one might realize. “The average woman weighs 170 [pounds] and wears a size 14—these women will find it harder to find clothes to wear due to brands supporting this ‘curvy is out’ trend,” Phylice Kessler, a licensed mental health counselor with Mindpath Health, tells Glamour, and Robinson says the same. “Saying ‘curvy is out’ disregards a lot of the work that we [activists] have already done to create space for and include a variety of body types in marketing, in stores, and online.”
Unlike clothing and accessories, body types can’t be “tried on” and discarded—but that hasn’t stopped mainstream culture. “The discourse that ‘thin is back in,’ or what I like to call ‘thin fever,’ is bigger than celebrity—we must look at the economic and racial factors that govern social propaganda,” says artist and activist GOODW.Y.N. These pressures have an insidious effect on non-white people, but especially the Black community. “If it’s not our hips, thighs, or curves, it’s our lips, hairstyles, and fashionable dress that have been robbed until it doesn’t suit ‘white cultural ideals’ for profit,” GOODW.Y.N. says.