Body positivity has changed according to Gina Tonic as she calls to end fatphobia
Body positivity has lost the support of Gina Tonic.
Undoubtedly, this may come as a surprise to some. The talented influencer made a name for herself by championing her figure. In doing so, she inspired countless other women to feel confident about their bodies too.
So why the change of heart? Here, Gina speaks exclusively to Four Nine about why she's ditched body positivity in favour of the fat liberation movement.
Body positivity has changed
Explaining why she is no longer a fan of body positivity, Gina tells me: "It feels redundant now."
The inspirational writer then goes on to explain how the movement originally started and how its meaning changed. She says: "It all started in the seventies by fat black women, fat Jewish women, and fat queer women. And then it got a resurgence in the 90's with Riot Guurls – that's when 'body positivity' was actually coined.
"It was supposed to be more about fat liberation and creating positivity around fat bodies. It was never about all bodies.
"When it became mainstream, it just became a buzzword. Like hashtags that brands will use to sell a bra. The radical nature of it has been removed, and a lot of people in the community who have been a part of it for so long – myself included – no longer subscribe to it. I don't use the term anymore. I use 'fat liberation'."
Introducing the fat liberation movement
Championing fat liberation appears to be Gina's mission statement. When she's not writing articles on everything from the joys of period sex to critiquing the government's anti-obesity strategy, the Welsh native is working on The Fat Zine . The publication, which she co-founded over lockdown with photographer Chloe Sheppard, pays homage to the beauty of fat bodies through images you rarely see. That is, shots of fat bodies that don't shy away from mass, or aim to shrink. Rather, rolls, cellulite, and width are displayed in pictures that are both sensual, and decidedly mundane.
Certainly, in mainstream media, we don't normally see fat bodies at home, or in the shower. And we rarely see black fat bodies, or those of people of colour, which Gina attempts to give platform to through the Zine.
As to how creating the publication has changed her relationship towards the fat liberation movement, and her own body, Gina says: "Creating a space for fat people, created by fat people, has really opened up my eyes on how the experience differs for everyone. The majority of us undergo many of the same stressors and negatives, but there are positives.''
While she's no longer using the term body positivity, Gina is inspirationally positive when it comes to her body. She adds: "I love my body. I love touching it and touching my boyfriend – who is also fat."
The writer goes onto tell me that several years ago, she made a rule to only date fat people, and that it has paid dividends for her confidence. "[I appreciate] how fat feels now. It's so gorgeous, so supple, and visceral and pliable. If we were just going off touch and the general experience of fatness without societal discrimination, I think people would be a lot happier with fat bodies.
"Unfortunately, we do live in a society that has taught us to hate our fat, when really, there's a lot of pleasure to be derived from it."
COVID-19 and obesity
Gina then shifts her focus to the COVID-19 pandemic. As she addresses the crisis, she tells me fat bodies have been scapegoated and stigmatised by the medical community. Undoubtedly she's alluding to how research has indicated that overweight and obese people are at greater risk of severe implications from the virus.
After the British government launched its new obesity strategy, there was little room for nuance. The document failed to consider how poverty is a related factor to both obesity and poor COVID-19 outcomes – as well as the fact that BAME communities are at even greater risk.
"Fatphobia intersects with racism, ableism, and classism," Gina sighs: "It just makes all of those things so much worse.
"We've essentially been told that we're not worth saving and that our lives are worthless. And that's coming from the government. So as well as having our own personal issues with being fat, we have these outside sources as well – sources that are supposed to be legitimate and support us. This medical fatphobia – that is, bias against fatphobia – is literally killing us. It's disgusting, really."
Now, Gina is working harder than ever to fight against fatphobia. While of course lockdown has presented us all with challenges, she's spent it reaching out to the fat liberation community.
She adds: "The solidarity I have gained from connecting from fat people through the internet, and through my own relationships, has been amazing.
"I'm just really excited to put more positivity into the movement."