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b-Vibe speaks with Todd Masterson aka GayFatFriend about Body Positivity
#Beyond The Booty

When It Comes to Body Positivity, You’re Not Saying What You Think You’re Saying!

Last Updated: Jun 01, 2023 / By Todd Masterson aka @GayFatFriend

The Body Positivity movement was started as a way to show people that all bodies are acceptable, desirable, and valid. But as Pride comes into full swing, what should we do when a lack of understanding turns "positivity" into an insult? Todd Masterson aka @GayFatFriend talks us through the misunderstandings of "Body Positivity."

You know how words can mean different things depending on where you’re saying them? Like, in England, rubber means pencil eraser, and in the US it means condom. Or like in Canada, Loonie means a one-dollar coin, and in the US it means crazy. Or like in most places, library means a safe, quiet space for learning and enrichment, and in Florida, it means nothing because they’re not allowed to have them. That’s how I feel about the phrase “body positivity” now. It means different things to different people in different situations and not all of them are good.

The Body Positivity movement was started as a way to show people that all bodies are acceptable, desirable, and valid, regardless of size, shape, color, age, etc. We’re all living in bodies and those bodies all look different and there’s no reason one type of body should be perceived as better than the other. Some people, through lack of understanding or just plain ignorance, will call anything involving a non-traditional body “Body Positivity” because that’s what society is telling them. Like, they’ll call a fat guy in a Speedo at a pool party “Body Positivity” and not a skinny guy in a Speedo because to them, the skinny guy is “normal.” But the fat guy is just as normal, and calling him “Body Positive” is kind of insulting, because he just has a BODY. We all have bodies. It’s like the most normal thing to have. Throughout all of my research, I have yet to find a person in the entire history of existence that didn’t have a body. Somewhere along the line, bodily presentation became a societal competition, with skinnier/fitter bodies taking the desirability lead, and so in the interest of fairness, Body Positivity was born. (By the way, every time “Body Positivity” is in quotes, please know that I am doing air quotes with my fingers and dramatically squinting my eyes.)

As a fat gay man, I think about this ALL the time. Through grammatical evolution and social mores, I’ve come to the conclusion that the acceptable use of Body Positivity is officially…on a case-by-case basis. Like, when Victoria’s Secret or Abercrombie adds a plus size model, I think that’s Body Positivity, because it’s adding our bodies to spaces that traditionally wouldn’t include us. And pointing it out makes it visible. It brings our bodies to the forefront. BUT if you see fat people at the beach just having fun with their shirts off or fat people wearing a sexy outfit to a club, that’s not Body Positivity, that’s just existing. Sexy is sexy, no matter the size. I look at it like this, if you wouldn’t say it to a non-fat person, don’t say it to a fat person. Is that the Golden Rule? I can never remember.

Sexy is sexy, no matter your size!

I love being fat, by the way! It’s not a bad word. I call myself fat all the time because I am and I love it. I say fat everywhere. Just like any stigmatizing word, once we remove the stigma, it just becomes a basic descriptor. I also double down when people try to do that midwestern polite thing and say “oH yOu’Er NoT fAt!” and I say YES I AM AND IT’S OK THAT I AM! Life’s too short to lie to myself and lie to other people. I’m busy! (And if anyone ever says “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” SCREAM as loud as you can “I AM BOTH, STOP SAYING THAT TO PEOPLE” and make it weird. In my experience, people learn faster if you make things weird.)

The gay community definitely gets more air time when it comes to body positivity and fat shaming, but I’m hesitant to say the gay community is *particularly* bad about fat shaming because if you’ve ever hung out with a group of Almond Moms, you’ll know that fat-hate starts in the home. BUT I do think we talk about it more because A: we’re more social, B: we love to post pictures of our lives, and C: we love to talk to each other a lot. And the easiest thing to talk about in the gay community is the rest of the gay community. I hate to generalize the community as a whole because our community is HUGE and the majority of us are kind and welcoming. We just have a handful of loud bullies in our ranks and unfortunately, they get a lot of attention. My advice is to exist as openly and honestly as possible in the face of body shamers. If all else fails, if somebody says something shitty about fat people, call them a weirdo and laugh at them while making very intense eye contact until they feel uncomfortable and walk away. Works every time.

Sex and dating is hard and emotional and specific and different every single day.

People ask me all the time if I notice fat shaming in the dating world, specifically on the apps. I haven’t been on apps since I met my husband 11 years ago, so it might be totally different now (and I’m sure it is), but back in the day I didn’t really have a problem meeting people. And I went on literally THOUSANDS of dates trying to find my husband. I only ever had one person say I was too fat after meeting me, but I had already rejected him, so he was just trying to be mean because I hurt his feelings. Sex and dating is hard and emotional and specific and different every single day. There are always going to be mean creeps that say terrible things about fat people, but that’s a them problem, not a you problem. Tell them they need therapy and then block them. It’s literally my favorite technique! There’s a lid for every trash can. It’s cliche and annoying, but your partner is out there, just keep looking. And if you’re just in a sexy-time mood right now, those partners are out there too! Trust me, people are attracted to you. A lot of people! Try your best to move past any jerks that might hurt your feelings for having a different body. I promise you, they truly are not worth your time.

There’s a place for everybody and every body in the gay community.

Same goes for just trying to make friends. If you’re in the gay community and you’re struggling with acceptance, please stay strong! Like I said, the gay community is HUGE and there are so many different types of people in it. There’s a place for everybody and every body. You just have to find your people. I love being gay more than anything on the planet and I love the gay people I surround myself with. Sure, I had to work at finding them, but you have to work at finding everything in life, right? Nobody likes every donut at the donut shop. Some people don’t even like donuts! And that’s ok! It’s INSANE, but ok! I mean, why wouldn’t you like donuts??? What’s the matter with you??? I’m off-topic. The gay community you want to be a part of is out there, all you gotta do is look!

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