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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Body Positivity Activist Virgie Tovar On Defying Beauty Standards And Celebrating Ourselves Regardless Of Size

  • IWB Post
  •  June 11, 2019

For the past one year, body positivity activist Virgie Tovar has been my source of inspiration in battling my insecurities concerning my inability to live up to the insane beauty standards we are surrounded by. Be slim, have a zero figure, perfect breasts – the opposite of this is rarely appreciated but Virgie Tovar has been defying all these demeaning guidelines and living life on her own terms.

She has been regularly waging war against fatphobia and even wrote a manifesto, “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” which was released last year. She writes for Ravishly and Forbes, where she spreads awareness about body positivity and share the triumphs and travails of plus-sized female executives. In a bid to motivate more people, she will be hosting ‘Camp Thunder Thighs’ in the Marin Headlands, California, this summer, where plus-sized individuals can attend workshops on creating community and can participate in a fashion show.

In a recent chat with Pacific Standard, Tovar shed light on what her upcoming summer camp is all about.

“A lot of people have heard of something called “fat camp,” which is a summer camp focused on weight loss. Camp Thunder Thighs is about creatively re-envisioning that experience and making it about self-love and body celebration, regardless of size—but especially for plus-size people. It’s hard to find places where fat people can safely eat or play or have fun without the fear of being mocked. We’re going to make that happen in a beautiful national park in Sausalito, California. [The camp] is for women, femmes, and non-binary people of all sizes who feel drawn to doing the work of radical self-acceptance and body justice in a fat-positive environment,” she shared.

Talking about the activities she has planned, she said, “Mornings begin with a delicious breakfast buffet. Then, workshops that focus on community-building and skill-building, things like how to set boundaries and how to deconstruct diet messaging. There are activities like the Vulnerability Fashion Show, where people are encouraged to bring a look that makes them feel vulnerable and wear it in a runway show.”

“Another activity involves this thing I call “jigglecize,” where we jiggle as a group. This exercise came out of my childhood. I used to love jiggling before I was taught fatphobia, and so I love asking people to inhabit that playful spirit of childhood and move our bodies in this fun way without shame. Camp is near a beach, and I’m encouraging campers to head there and watch the sunset. After sunset, we’ll have a fire pit and a s’mores bar,” she said.

As it is everywhere, in the west too, “diet culture is the inescapable behavioral paradigm” we live that “normalizes food restriction and hunger suppression and values thinness above actual health.”

“Women are disproportionate consumers of diet products. We keep the industry afloat because the industry capitalizes on the fact that women are constantly being fed the message that something is wrong with us. We use dieting as a way to cope with that messaging,” she said.

“What’s so weird about dieting is that all the data says it doesn’t work, longitudinally. People on diets go up and down in their weight, and this is worse for the body than staying at a higher but more stable weight. The data is also pretty clear that diets are correlated with anxiety and depression, and have been linked to acceleration into eating disorders. The ethos of diet culture is what allows us to bypass actual data in order to keep doing behavior that I would argue has no value and, in fact, is self-harming,” she added. “Diet culture essentially keeps people in a mindset of insufficiency and self-loathing: “I’m not good enough at my current size”.”

It is high time that the narrative around health, food, and size is changed and people alter their perception.

“The first thing we need to do is stop worrying and wondering and questioning why people are the size they are. We just need to stop. It doesn’t actually matter, because at the end of the day people deserve respect, care, love, medical care, and humanity no matter what size they are or why they are their size,” she said.

Her upcoming book “FLAWLESS: Radical Body Positivity for Girls of Color” is aiming to motivate young girls and will be releasing in the spring of 2020.

“I kept coming back to this message for the reader: “You are powerful beyond words. You are inherently good. You deserve to thrive. You deserve to dream of a better world. You deserve to have that world.” And then, “Here are the tools to use when you’re in doubt of these inalienable truths.” Of course, the book does this through the lens of body image and questioning diet culture, but we have to see these topics as connected to the greater struggle to create a world where girls can thrive,” she shared.

H/T: Pacific Standard



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