Something’s been bothering me for about a month or so, and we gotta talk it because the math’s just not mathing! On the one hand, we’ve got folks praising Rihanna for baring her baby bump in a number of unapologetically sexy ’fits. And on the other hand, we’ve got folks bashing Lizzo for baring her bodacious butt in a number of unapologetically sexy ’fits, most recently a pair of fire ass-less chaps from her new shapewear line, Yitty.
As a proud member of the plus-size community, I’m more accustomed to the latter: big-bellied bodies bearing nothing but hate disguised as misinformed concern for our health and well-being. I mean, for the last several years, we’ve watched trolls try to tear down Lizzo for rocking a sheer dress at Cardi B’s birthday party (among other iconic fashun moments) and truly just living her life. I think that’s why I was so shocked to see the overwhelmingly positive reception of Rih’s maternity looks, exposed bump and all, considering the internet’s incessant dragging of plus-size celebs bodies. In my eyes, these were two similar examples of people just doing what they want with their bodies.
To be clear, I’m not here to tell anyone what they should be doing, how they should be presenting, or what they need to wear. I’m also not here to pit Rih or Lizzo against each other, as they’ve both blazed legendary trails and shattered ridiculous conventions in the fashion world and beyond. What I am here to do is call out the double standard of celebrating pregnant bodies while critiquing fat bodies. What’s the so-called logic? Is the size of a pregnant body—particularly those of cisgender women—more acceptable and respectable because they’re carrying a child and doing what their bodies are supposedly meant to do according to society standards? Whereas society standards also insist that plus-size bodies are unacceptable and inappropriate because they deviate from bigoted Western beliefs of what women’s bodies are supposed to look like—I call bullshit.
Let’s start with the pure juxtaposition of how society loves to celebrate a pregnant body, then several months and a whole miracle later, demand that that same body “bounce back. And when we’re not pregnant, we’re conditioned to erase our stretch marks, suck in our stomachs, cross our legs just so, and hide or peacock our curves. This yo-yo perception not only fuels the constant scrutiny that women face in relation to their bodies but also justifies the hella outdated concept that, as women, our bodies’ main objectives are to give birth and look good…whatever “good” even means.
As a longtime social media influencer and personality, I’ve seen these desirability politics play out firsthand in the Black plus-size community on social media. For years, Black creators, fat creators, and fat Black creators have been speaking out about the actual racism and fatphobia constantly displayed on social media apps. I mean, it was only two years ago that Instagram had to change their whole nudity policy after censoring a Black plus-size model’s breasts for being “too big” and her photograph for being too “pornographic” (shout-out to Nyonme Nicholas-Williams).
You’re reading this essay from some corner of the world wide web, so I know you know what I’m talking about. Whether scrolling through a social feed or reading an article from the group chat, it’s pretty hard to escape our culture’s impossible beauty standards and the random conditions that come with them. Well, I’m tired. Aren’t you?
I guess there’s not much more to really say here except for “Hey, everyone, can you just mind your own business and bodies?!”
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