Over the past few weeks, Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday have been featured in many headlines. Ashley Graham is the first plus-sized model to be featured in an ad in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition. Tess Holliday, who is known for her viral #effyourbeautystandards campaign, is the first plus-sized model of her size to be signed to a major modeling agency.
While both Ashley and Tess both deserve all of the recognition they are receiving, why is it that, in 2015, the mainstream media recognizes only two plus-sized models? And what does it mean to have apparently able-bodied, cisgender, white women as the face of plus-sized modeling and body positivity?
As body positivity gains momentum as a movement, many folks are beginning to speak out about the ways in which this movement is further marginalizing the same communities that larger societal beauty standards marginalize. Simply speaking, representation matters, especially when we are focusing on a movement dedicated to showing the world that all bodies are beautiful. We must be sure to hold this movement accountable in the same ways that we hold society at large accountable.
If you Google body positive, most of the images show white folks — even the cartoons. When spreading the message of body positivity, we have to be sure that we are including the voices of people of color. As a fat Black woman, this piece for me is very important. When fighting against body terrorism and oppression, we have to address racism and its impact on people’s self-esteem and body image.