Is body positivity a gateway to fat acceptance?

The other day Laura Burns and I combined two separate analogies we’d come up with to form the theory of the two lakes: Donut Lake and Liberation Lake.

Donut Lake is the home of body positivity. It’s full of fun pool floats and selfie cameras and bopo influencers. The water is warm and comfy, and is mysteriously replenished. And to get anywhere else, you’d need to swim against the current.

Uphill is Liberation Lake. Its waters formed Donut Lake and continue to feed it. The water is colder and there aren’t as many pool floats here, because the floats don’t fit the people who swim here: the fat folks who created Liberation Lake and haul water to it, only to watch it flow down to Donut Lake, endlessly.

Liberation Lake is where the hard work gets done, the water is created, and the magic happens. But the folks selling concessions and renting out pool floats downhill won’t acknowledge Liberation Lake as the source of the water and magic, and swimming uphill seems like a lot of work, so it’s rare that anyone bothers.

Every once in a while, a delegation of fat folks heads down the hill.

“Hey, bopo folks,” they say. “It’s okay that your lake siphons water from ours (though we wish we’d been included in the planning), but it’s a lot of work up here to create that water. Do you think you could contribute a little to the upkeep, or give us credit sometimes for making the magic?”

The thin people selling snacks and swim lessons simply ignore them and continue making money, unbothered. The people on loungers (weight limit 200 lbs) around the shore and the people splashing in donut-shaped inner tubes (size limit 42″ waist) clutch their body-positive t-shirts (inclusive up to 2X!) and cry,

“How dare you! The work being done down here is so important! How is anyone supposed to swim if no one supplies the water? Our heroes are working very hard down here. Why do you hate them so much?

After all, they’re the ones doing the important water work. Can’t you see them providing us all snacks and swimsuits (up to 3X!)? How are we ever supposed to get to Liberation Lake if these people aren’t speaking? You’re so divisive.”

Meanwhile, the river between the lakes remains empty. Not a single swimmer chooses the journey over the immediate comfort.

Could Donut Lake and Liberation Lake be on the same level? Could they even be just one all-encompassing lake? Sure. But the body positivity movement decided to create a separate lake that pulls endless labor from fat folks, then made us unwelcome in it. Those were choices that thinner people actively made. That is what is truly divisive.

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Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at