It’s the year of our Lord, DJ Khaled 2018, and dating has entered The Matrix. Except, only there are no blue or red pills. Instead, there are Tinder (and all of its seedy cousins thrice removed) and being “single forever”. Following Keanu Reeves down the Rabbit Hole, we choose what seems to be the less of the two “evils”- online dating. It’s an algorithmic utopia here. One can choose from a plethora of options (well some include a small fee of $999.99/mo) and voila! A list of your dream suitors materializes at your fingertips. Although this may sound easier said than done, the online dating world has its dark elements, too. Aside from the catfishers, ulterior motives, and the heavy influence of “hookup culture”, the online dating world (and even dating in real life) seem to lack one vital thing – inclusion. The phrase “there’s somebody for everybody” is for the birds. Despite all of the options you can choose from such as hair, eye color, religion, it still feels like all the categories, larger sizes in particular, are not equally desirable.
Looking at this, one must wonder how something so broad can be so selective. The answer is simply this: the media. Media outlets, whether it be online dating and social media platforms or movies and television, have a great influence on societal perspectives. How people view bodies is definitely not exempt from this. Being larger bodied is quite literally a mixed bag. Some television shows, such as This is Us, promote body positivity by showing larger people teeming with self confidence and in healthy and loving relationships while most other outlets create a stereotypical representation of larger bodies as single, constantly eating, and unnattractive. This body positive-and-negative Yin and Yang are a byproduct of feminists and their plight to eradicate intersectional segregation in addition to the media’s agenda to not only control societal viewpoints but to also do it in a way that maintains their cash flow. It’s a matter of diversity vs dollars and cents. Time and time again the coins outweigh the need for inclusion.
Just like everything else, the media has created a cookie-cutter image of what is an “acceptable” fat. Blame it on the artist Drake and his expression of liking “[his] women BBW, the kind that want to suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you” and its trickle into Hip Hop culture. This BBW (big bodied woman) does not include the curveless, sized twenty-two woman. This form of BBW is the extreme and mostly unrealistic hourglass, being “fat in all the right places” while maintaining a flat waist. Seeing this image makes it hard for plus sized women because it not only forces them to subscribe to false, patriarchal beauty standards, but it, also, makes them feel lesser than and undesirable.
Having this “gold standard” of beauty has created both unhealthy aspirations and stereotypes that are harmful to self-esteem. Bodies that do not meet this expectation are deemed as undeserving of love and manifest as typecasts of comic relief devoid of sexuality. Another stereotype that has spawned from this is the idea of plus size as a fetish. Larger bodies are viewed as outlets for sex, separating the body from the human and tossing the humanistic component to the wayside.
So, how do we rectify this? We change these attitudes by educating others on body positivity and challenge pre-existing stereotypes. We have to teach people that body positivity is empowering, inclusive and necessary for the self-esteem of all people. Luckily, people have been taking social media by storm not only to break stereotypes but to also display what it means to be unapologetically themselves. Instagrammers such as @Luhshawnay, @Zenasativa, @erikalipps and @hantisedeloubli all use their platforms to engage with fellow instagrammers and show others that being plus-sized is cool, fun, and fashionable. They are a great source of inspiration for others, and their accounts are great tools of self-expression and activism.
*featured image credit to Her Campus’ Organizing a Naked Calendar and Body Positivity Issues For Students campaign.
About the author:
Cheyenne is a soon-to-be graduate of Rutgers University. She is currently applying to MFA programs in Media Studies. Aside from her studies, Cheyenne has a passion for fashion and all things aesthetic such as body art and makeup. She also has an unwavering love for anime, traveling, writing and reading. She writes both fiction and editorials, utilizing influences from her life and her environment to create textual magic. Cheyenne hopes to bring her creativity, activism, and love of words to the Shortline Review team and moreover, the world.