There’s no doubt that body positivity, while not easy, is something we should all strive for. At SXSW, an incredible panel including SELF editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra, actress/comedian/YouTuber Akilah Hughes, actress/comedian Nicole Byer, and Teen Vogue Digital Director Phillip Picardi chatted about accepting and celebrating all body types and having a good sense of humor while doing it. Here are five highlights of the panel.
1. Social media is the great equalizer. Social media has helped change the stereotypical notion of how a body “should” look, as anyone with a phone can put themselves out there. Byer said Instagram has made different types of bodies more visible and that she personally loves posting photos of herself in bikinis with the hashtags #veryfat and #verybrave. #Veryawesome, if you ask us.
2. “Fat” isn’t a bad word. When asked why she insists on people referring to her as “fat,” Byer said, “Why is curvy better than fat? Why is voluptuous better than fat? ‘Fat’ is not a bad word.” The more the word is used in a matter-of-fact way, the less stigma and power it carries with it. Added Byer, “Everyone has fat; some people just have a little more… I want people to think fat is something that I have, not something I am.” She also added, “Curvy is stupid; I’m not a road.” You should never let a single external descriptor define who you are as a person.
3. Representation matters. We need to talk about and show different bodies more. Hughes admitted that she’s been both heavier and skinnier before and has been body shamed for being in that in-between stage and not falling into either category. Having open, honest conversations about various colors, ages, sizes, and genders helps normalize all body types.
4. Body positivity and body neutrality are not the same things, but they’re both important. Hughes said she prefers body neutrality because it’s a recognition of reality. You don’t have to fall to either side of the extreme and only love or hate things; you can just be okay with and accepting of being imperfect. Byer, on the other hand, is a big supporter of body positivity — “I like to celebrate everything this bag of potatoes can do… when my body does something, I’m excited.”
5. Just live your life. Byer said, “If you want to eat a bag of Cheetos and float in a pool, go do it. Live your life. No one should have to shame anybody.” Changing your body also doesn’t mean you’re betraying the body positivity movement. “If you don’t like something about your body, it is positive to change that thing.”
What are your best tips for body positivity? Share them with us @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via @akilahh)