Inspired by a lively thread at Feministe on how to be a feminist boyfriend (and thinking about Dar William’s brilliant song about figuring out that you might want a feminist boyfriend in the first place), I’m tossing this question out there in the hope that this post can become a resource for us all:
What are your suggestions for people who want to be body-positive partners?
I am incredibly lucky to have found a feminist, body-positive partner who was that way when I met him, so when I asked him just now what his answer to the above question was, he said, “Don’t be a jerk.”* Which is, of course, the real answer to “How to be a good partner, period.” Unfortunately, as we all know, most people’s standards for How Not To Be A Jerk don’t yet include being body-positive — but we’re working to change that here! Meanwhile, I can tell you that, uh, Mr Machine** has seen my body lose and gain weight for various reasons without ever commenting negatively about my size or any aspect of my body. That’s obviously an important first step! Another thing that I think is an aspect of body positivity that helps us talk about fat acceptance as well is not being squeamish with each other. I’m not talking about suddenly feeling fine at the sight of blood, or about me telling him about my menstrual cramps in lyrical detail. But we’ve lived together for five years now and are not afraid to talk about what’s going on with our bodies, so if he says something about being “concerned about my health,” I know he’s actually concerned about my health instead of using that as a cover story for being dissatisfied with my body.
Mr Machine also pointed out that there are some good role models in the world to follow in being a good feminist (of whatever gender), but vanishingly few on how to be body positive (for whatever size or shape bodies). Given that, I suggest we use this thread as a brainstorming session as well as a pooling of resources. What have you experienced with a body-positive partner (or being a body-positive partner)? What would you like to experience? How can we all resolve to be more body-positive in our own current and future relationships?
*Okay, and then we got into a long, detailed conversation about the difficulty of summing up how to not be fatphobic, since fatphobia saturates our culture. He’s a good egg, that one.
**We’re not actually married, but it sounds catchy, doesn’t it?