Proud2Bme | The Intersection of Pride Month and Body Positivity

  • Body Image
  • Body Positivity

The Intersection of Pride Month and Body Positivity

By Ariel Beccia--June is Pride Month, and past celebrations have been symbols of defiance, strength and solidarity. It has never felt more necessary to champion love and inclusion, which is why it is important that we use this month to break down as many divisions as possible.

Like many Proud2Bme readers, I consider myself an LGBTQ ally and a body-positive activist. The pride and body positivity movements are inextricably linked; both are grounded in the ideal of compassion. The diversity of gender and sexuality expressions means that every person has a unique relationship with their body, and thus unique ways of experiencing self-love.

It is vital that we recognize the intersectionality of gender and body image. These two aspects of ourselves can have a major influence on one another, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the not-so-good. "Queer body image" has been described as a frequently forgotten issue, yet it is one filled with disheartening statistics. According to various surveys, almost half of gay men would give up a year of their lives in exchange for a “perfect” body, one-third of lesbian women describe their body image as negative, and LGBTQ individuals are significantly more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than straight individuals are.

These are serious issues, and ones that will require more than just LGBT or body-positive activism alone. So how can we merge these two efforts?

1. Expand the concept of body positivity

“Body positivity” is not universally embraced. While it may be extremely gratifying for someone who has experienced societal devaluation of his or her body to work towards radical self-love, this same action may feel inauthentic for an individual who has suffered from an extremely negative body image. It has been suggested we embrace a multitude of terms, including “body-acceptance,” “body-neutrality,” and “fat acceptance” so that everyone has an accessible way of relating to their bodies. Start up a conversation with your friends, your classmates, your family … learn what resonates for people.

2. Reject the “real man” ideal

It’s no secret that we live in a society that values masculinity and has a constructed ideal of who the “real man” is: tall, muscular and heterosexual. This narrow definition of male is exclusionary, especially to gay men, and can lead to unhealthy behaviors and mental health issues. It has been found that gay men spend more on fitness and self-improvement than any other group of men, and they have a higher incidence of body image disturbances and disordered eating. Next time you hear a phrase or see an action perpetuating the “real man,” stand up and say something, if you can. All men are real men and are worthy of being accepted as such.

3. Move beyond stereotypes

Just like the “real man” described above, there is arguably a “real woman” and countless other stereotypes that also fall under these umbrellas. You know what they all have in common (beyond being completely unrepresentative of reality)? They are generally based on looks. Butch, femme, twink, bear … these are all different LGBTQ identities defined by physical appearances. While some individuals may identify with these terms, not everyone will, and no one should have to. Don’t assume something about someone based on dress, hairstyle, make-up, etc. Acknowledge and celebrate your and your friends’ inner characteristics.

4. Engage in mindful activism

As discussed throughout this article, body image issues are highly prevalent, yet often unspoken of, in the LGBTQ community. It’s time to end the silence. Everyone is deserving of equal access to support and treatment for any and all mental health concerns. Show love to someone you think may be struggling. Validate everyone’s experiences as real and worthy. Offer an ear, a hug. Break down entrenched beliefs by speaking up and speaking out. Show the world that all genders, all sexualities, all bodies, all people are worthy and beautiful.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.