Exhibition on Body Positivity

Date: 
November 26, 2015 - 09:00 - December 3, 2015 - 18:00
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
Laptop Area
Event type: 
Event audience: 
CEU host unit(s): 
Human RightS Initiative (HRSI)
Exhibition on Body Positivity

This is not an art exhibition in a full sense (though can be thought as such), but rather a political statement occupying the space of the Laptop area. Each and every piece in this set of images is a first-person statement about their body and societal norms and conventions related to bodies. All photographs here are made and/or published by those who are present on the corresponding images. Graphics and a poem are produced by individu- al body-positivity activists.

So, what it is about?

The simple idea that all bodies are beautiful is especially important in the society where fatphobia, ableism and racism are harming people with non- conventional bodies on the everyday basis. As abundant research shows, fat people are suffering discrimination, dehumanizing attitude and violence on working place, in public and private sphere only because of their bodies. Somehow, they (we) are perceived to be lazy, less smart, sexually undesirable, lack of will power and so on. In general, people feel entitled to comment on bodies of others, whom they see as overweight or in other ways different from beauty standards. Fatphobia is especially harmful for women who are believed to be obliged to look desirable for male gaze in hetero- sexist societies. Everywhere around us we see representations of slim, abled, hairless, white bodies as “ideal” and desirable, and only-norm. In fact, often public images of fat women, for example, in bikinis, are considered “obscene”, whereas the same kind of representations of thin bodies is seen as totally fine.

But does the statement “all bodies are beautiful” solve the major problem?

There are certain valuable critics raised against beauty-centrism and chasing the prettiness. In the world of binaries, when one claims “beauty” for the fat body, there is always space of ugliness somewhere, still there, and this ugliness is bad, exactly because beauty is valued. And it well may be, that even including fat, racialized, disabled bodies in the space of beauty, we don’t achieve much, since there still necessarily will be some bodies which are excluded from being beautiful. So, may be we should stop valorizing beauty altogether? May be we should ask ourselves, what our ugliness (ugliness of all of us) tells us? How does it enrich us? How come that it is inherently bad? It is very possible, that seriously considering and embracing ugliness is the next step. As great writer and community organizer Mia Mingus puts it: “There is magnificence in our ugliness. There is power in it, far greater than beauty can ever wield. […] I would rather you be magnificent, than beautiful, any day of the week. I would rather you be ugly—magnificently ugly”.

The exhibition is a part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign at CEU. It is organized by Human RightS Initiative with the great support of CEU Gender Studies Department.