meet six queer bipoc voices in the body positive movement

May 24, 2018
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By Donyae Coles* / WearYourVoice Mag, AFROPUNK Contributor

The body positive movement has a lot of problems—not in the general message that we all deserve the space to love our bodies as they are, but in representation. The movement has become increasingly championed by cis white women without there being much room for the non-white queer folx who want to love themselves.

The body positivity movement speaks about intersectionality but it does not often show intersectionality. The idea of body positivity has been co-opted by the mainstream and the face of it has become more palatable to primarily white, cisgender audiences rather than uplifting marginalized bodies to the spotlight. This isn’t to say that body positivity doesn’t have a place for people who have more socially acceptable bodies, various streams of oppression are very good at making us hate ourselves for one reason or another, this is just to say that those are not the people who were meant to be the forefront of the movement. Bodies that are conventionally attractive — white, able bodied, cis — can find themselves positively represented anywhere.

Body positivity, as a movement, was meant to give space to bodies that an oppressive society says are not worthy of love and acceptance. It was meant as a way to tell body-shamers to fuck off.

Body positivity is more than just looks and feeling good in lipstick. It’s about being seen for the totality of your body and being allowed to live in it. This means that we’re talking about race, gender, sexuality, disability, culture, ethnicity, and more. It is a full intersectional spectrum. So, it is not always necessary for people who are marginalized to speak directly to the movement, by existing publicly and loudly they are supporting it.

Here are six queer, BIPOC body positive that you could inspire you on social media as we continue to push back against oppressors.

1. Annie Elainey

This YouTuber doesn’t just stand for body positivity but also disability and LGBTQAI+ rights and representation. Their name is Annie Segarra and they are a chronically ill and disabled vlogger who makes videos promoting self-love, care, and boosts social issues. Although they do make videos about what they’re wearing or hair and accessories, this isn’t a beauty channel. They dive into addressing their body and history in order to make peace and move on with their life.

2. Alok

Probably one of the most well known Brown trans faces out there, their work is about addressing transphobia and bringing to light folx who are gender non-conforming. But guess what? That’s exactly the sort of thing that the body positive movement should be doing! Alok is active across Facebook and Instagram where they share images of themselves and others along with empowering words of support for other trans and Brown people. Their message is you’re beautiful, you’re worthy, don’t be afraid to be who you are.

3. Jessamyn Stanely

Getty Images

There are many body positive yoga practitioners out there and Jessamyn Stanley is one of the biggest. She is the author of “Every Body Yoga” and has been active on Facebook and Instagram for a good long time. Her photos, featuring her in various yoga poses, usually in nothing but shorts and a sports bra (if that) provide an unflinching look at a fat, Black body in a space that has been overtaken by white thin ones.

4. Queer Xicano Chisme

Ruben is a comedian and femme for brown and queer liberation. Their social media accounts are full of images and calls for protest and revolution. They combine beauty and joy with the hard and painful work of changing narratives around queerness and acceptance.

5. Ashleigh Shackelford

Lemme sit this belly on ya 👅💦 #BellyGameTooStrong

A post shared by Ashleigh Shackelford (@ashleighthelion) on Apr 24, 2018 at 4:38pm PDT

Most people are already aware of Shackelford’s work, she’s been very vocal about race, gender, and fat acceptance. Her work has been featured in several publications and she has started her own research into not only fat acceptance but also queer domestic violence. Being a fat, Black femme is hard and Shackleford speaks to this while still furthering the conversation around fat, queer, femme bodies.

6. Marfmellow

This non-binary femme is about calling out he nonsense in BP and FA movements through their video platform. They mix stories of their own life and use humor to discuss the issues that affect marginalized communities. Approachable and real.

These people are just a few voices that are out there. Queer BIPOC voices deserve to be boosted in the movement because the movement was meant to support them.

This post is in partnership with WearYourVoice Mag.

*Donyae Coles is a freelance writer. You can find her work surrounding spirituality and witchcraft on Spiral Nature. She also been published on Resist and Guerrilla Feminism