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Body Positivity: The Commodification of Self-Acceptance Movement

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The body positivity movement that once started to make people with extra weight feel confident in their own skin has long lost its true purpose. With social media at boom and brands using anything in trend to sell their product, the diminishing movement has transformed into a hashtag for influencers to grasp more likes and a tagline for brands to advertise their outputs.

With all the blaze surrounding body positivity movement, things have surely taken some good turn. Not very long ago, media, TV, and commercials showed only a very small section of the body types. Now magazines and ramps are opening doors for plus-size women.

But what really is body positivity? Are the brands actually conveying the message behind the movement? And is body positivity truly commodified?

What is Beauty?

What exactly does the word plus mean? Plus means good when used as a noun; plus means optimistic when used as an adjective; but when the same plus is used in the context of body type, plus somehow becomes a stereotypical stigma. It begins by implying that someone plus-sized isn’t ‘beautiful enough.’ So who gets to say what these perfect bodies and beauty ideals are?

Social media influencers, ramps, and brands have collectively cultivated the body image problem, and then exploit them for skyrocketing their business. If observed closely, it gets evident how the standards of beauty are introduced to us from a very young age.

For girls, Barbie doll defines good look; slim, fair, and tall. When grew a little older, makeup brands showing fair and spotless models expounded the ideal skin. Ramps elucidated the perfect height and body type. Anyone who didn’t fit into these idealized skin and shape was made to feel less.

Impacts of the Unrealistic Beauty Standards

A research’s staggering report published in the Body Image journal dictates that the insanely unrealistic body proportion of the Barbie dolls lowers the self-esteem of young girls between the age of 6 to 8 and they complain about their own natural body not being good enough.

Another research found that images of models, very strongly impact adolescent girls’ perception of ideals weight, and body shape. According to the results, 69% of the girls are influenced by the perfect body shape depicted in the magazines.

Social media and brands have cultured a noxious relationship between us and our natural bodies. But now these same brands are latching out and woke the new movement of body positivity, flaunting plus size models just to sell us a whole new set of products.

A study conducted amongst 2000 women showed that a staggering 89% of the women feel that their body shape is not represented in the main street fashion industry. 74% of the women in the US feel self-conscious when looking at themselves in the mirror. More than half of the 13-year old girls in America are unhappy with their bodies, by the age of 17, the percentage shoots up to 80%.

What Actually is Body Positivity Movement?

Though today body positivity has turned into more of a buzzword used by brands to sell their latest collection; its history is deeply entrenched in revisionist social justice and radical body acceptance. Originally emanated by the 1960’s fat acceptance movement, body positivity is the movement created for embracing marginalized bodies, especially “fat, Black, queer and disabled bodies” says Chelsea Kronengold of the National Eating Disorder Association.

The movement largely encouraging plus-sized women to accept their bodies soon began to steam up on platforms like Facebook groups and Tumblr. Here women suffering from the social stereotype of body shape discussed their problems and how their looks were preventing them from being treated like everyone else. But with the rise of influencer culture, the plus-size model started utilizing the movement to promote acceptance of body positivity on platforms like Instagram, gathering support from the followers.

But plus-size models weren’t the only ones using these hashtags for publically preaching love for their natural bodies. Super skinny influencers also championed body positivity hashtags, flaunting the parts of their bodies which they adjudged to be ‘flawed.’ Despite being inherently correct, these models exhibiting their love handles, hip dips, cellulitis using #bodypositivity was completely contrary to the initial movement’s motivation which focused on acceptance of marginalized bodies.

The Commodification of Body Positivity

In a world ruled by capitalism, the organic social justice movement challenging social stereotypes hovering over body image was soon manipulated, repurposed, and commodified. As brands started seeing the plus-size influencers as a profitable tool to boost their sales, models with some extra pounds were incorporated into the brand’s campaign under the semblance of body positivity.

Clothing brands love to sell the idea of self-love, accepting the body as it is and clothing it accordingly. But are they really promoting body positivity? In reality, they are doing quite the opposite.

The body positivity movement recently again sparked in 2021, challenging unrealistic beauty standards. Numerous plus-size models were hired for spreading the message, Instagram became the platform to advertise the movement. Today, there are more than 7 million posts under #bodypositivity, but most of them have nothing to do with the original idea behind the movement. This hashtag has become just another hashtag for vaunting selfies, gym-wear, and paid posts. Most of them sharing their fat-loss journey.

Body Positivity: The New Marketing Idea

For the fashion industries acceptance of plus-size models is still a long way ahead. Plus-size in the industry means size 8, the average size of women in the US in 14. For them, curvy women with hour-glass waist walking down the ramp are acceptance of women of all sizes.

Research conducted by Florida State University showed that women tend to remember brands showcasing plus-size models in their advertisement, and perhaps add the brand’s product to their shopping cart. This is the psychology the brands are cashing on, and the reason behind featuring curvier models in the name of body positivity.

One-third of the women in the US classify themselves as plus-size. The branding tactics of body positivity turned out to be immensely fruitful for the clothing brand. In the UK plus-size clothing business have almost doubled in just a decade.

© Statista 2021

There has been genuine demand for plus-size clothing and brands have catered it well. Today almost every top brand has a plus-size collection, but astonishingly they do not share the same rack as other sizes. Inclusivity is still missing in the supply of cloth, plus is mostly another section if not another shop altogether. The price range of plus-size clothes also varies from the usual sizes.

A Long Way Ahead

Today, brands are making huge money from what started as a movement of self-acceptance, but the message is yet not conveyed. We as a society still say “Wow! you look great. Have you lost weight?”

Society still has a long way to understand that beauty is not about being curvy or skinny, tall or short but being comfortable in being your own self.

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Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?

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Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?

Unlike any other state around the world, Israel is constantly whining about its international image being tarnished and unfairly sullied. The apartheid entity routinely blames “anti-Semites”  for ” seeking constantly to lynch the Jewish state’s image.” Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) doctors would voice all sorts of unreasonable and preposterous “rationales” to explain the utter lack of love for the pariah state among the peoples of the world.

Israel, which the late American evangelist Jerry Falwell referred to as “the nation-state of the Lord” has effectively been transformed in the eyes of the bulk of humanity into the nation-state of the devil.  Well, but even the devil itself is probably learning “useful” lessons from Israel.

While insisting that Israel’s ugly image suffers due to anti-Semitism, not Israel’s abominable behaviour in occupied Palestine, the professional twisters of truth would eventually invoke the mantra that “boys will always be boys and goys will always be goys”! (goys or goyem is a derogatory Jewish term for non-Jews)

Israel firsters, whose Chutzpah often transcends reality,  would never attribute the sullied image of the apartheid entity to its unceasing and unmitigated crimes against the helpless Palestinians. We all know that not a single day passes without a Palestinian boy, child, woman, worker, farmer, doctor, student or journalist getting murdered or maimed by the Gestapo-like Israeli army or the even more murderous paramilitary Jewish settlers all over the Occupied West Bank.

We kill them knowingly

Israeli officials and spokespersons are well aware of the  utmost gravity of these crimes. However, they would argue that these crimes, however nefarious and barbarian, should not lead to tarnishing Israel’s image.

Read Also: Are Palestinians facing a pre-holocaust situation in the West Bank?

Moreover, the Zionists would argue that international critics of Israel’s  “actions” are guilty of singling Israel out for their scathing criticisms, while conveniently ignoring other villains on the world’s arena, such as Russia, the Syrian regime, and even the U.S. and its allies who killed and maimed thousands of innocent people in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Being hated is essential to being Zionist

Yes, the Zionists do admit, though begrudgingly,  that they indulge in all sorts of heinous crimes, including crimes against humanity, against the Palestinians.

Generally speaking, the Zionists don’t claim that these crimes are correct and ethical, although religious Talmudic settlers thugs, such as Ben Gvir and Smotrich, who won recent Israeli elections, would cite numerous quotations from the Torah and Talmud “proving” the utter morality and perfect legitimacy of these crimes, including burning Palestinian kids alive.!

Read Also: The fanatic Zionist and me: Truth versus arrogance of power

None the less, the Zionists would insist that Israel has the right to defend itself as if self-defence justified an evil military occupation, dehumanizing repression and humiliating apartheid for over half a century. One settler leader from the settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron had the audacity to say “if Joshua did exterminate the Canaanites, why can’t we do the same to the Palestinians”?

A little story that speaks volumes

Exposed and demoralized before the entire world, Zionist spokespersons would reveal, often inadvertently,  one of the most outrageous aspects of their collective evil mindset. A few days ago, an Israeli right-wing activist wrote in Ynet  that Jews can survive only if they are hated by Goyem, but in order to be hated, Jews must indulge in every evil act in order to draw hateful reactions from non-Jews.”

Read Also: Even if a hundred  holocausts were committed against Jews, it gives them no right to slaughter Palestinians and steal their homeland

I really had thought that perhaps only a small esoteric Jewish cult did indulge in this strange behaviour.  But then a friend intimated to me a little secret.  He told me a story he said he had heard from his father who died many years ago. According to the friend, when Arab kids in a given Palestinian town were playing near the small local  Jewish neighbourhood, the mother of the only Jewish kid who was playing with them, gave the Arab kids some sweets and a few piasters , asking them to hit and curse her own kid!.  I remembered this little story when a Zionist settler activist told me during an internet chat  recently  that “we need to be hated in order to survive as Jews.”

Some audacious rabbis would privately explain such bizarre behaviour by arguing that if Jews found absolute love and acceptance by non-Jews, they would eventually assimilate and perish as a people.

In other words, anti-Semitism is essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood! One Israeli rabbi reportedly argued that if there were no anti-Semitism, it would be the moral and religious duty of the Jews to create “some” anti-Semitism to make Jews feel that they are different”!

Startling Open Secret

This startling open-secret should explain the fact that numerous trumped-up anti-Semitic incidents, including torching synagogues,  scrawling anti-Jewish graffiti, and vandalizing Jewish grave headstones are often committed  by Jews, not anti-Semites! Just ask Law-enforcement authorities in the U.S. and UK, and they would tell you some shocking stories in this regard.

And, yes, there are numerous rabbis and Talmudic sages who would argue that Jews will not survive and prosper if they were readily accepted and loved by goyem, since such cordiality and friendliness would lead to slackness, integration assimilation and ultimate extinction of Jews . Jews in America are often cited as a classical example. Due to their complete integration into the  American society, most American  Jews blended completely and thoroughly,  melting away into the general fabric of American life, leaving themselves,  their children and their grandchildren only nominally Jewish.

In light, Jews must accordingly show off their brutal ugliness and evilness to  Goyem in order to generate a certain amount of anti-Semitism which would be highly beneficial, useful and even vital for Jewish survival and growth.

There is absolutely no doubt that  Israel’s 75-year-old ongoing holocaust against the Palestinians can be explained, at least in part, in light of this criminal mentality, which actually constitutes a creed and ideology for millions of Zionist Jews.

Some readers, stunned by the utter shamelessness and diabolic oddity of this mentality might be prompted to think that the author of this article is perhaps exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion.

But there is no exaggeration here. I remember the late American Jewish author Alfred Lilienthal quoting a Zionist rabbi in his masterpiece-book, the Zionist Connection, as saying that “a little anti-Semitism is always useful since it reminds us of who we are.”!  

Chasing the Mirage of the desert

Today, Israel and its tails, mouthpieces and allies in the U.S. and some European countries are fighting an anti-Semitism that doesn’t really exist except in the sick mindsets of Zionist leaders. Thus, every legitimate criticism of the brutal Israeli occupation, including the apartheid regime in the West Bank, is twisted to imply hated for Jews. 

Read also: Israel Has No Right to Exist if Palestine Has No Right to Exist

The Zionists would argue cunningly and tendentiously that opposing Israel is opposing Jewish self-determination. They conveniently ignore the fact that Israel’s right to exist is inextricably entwined with Palestine’s right to exist and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. And. Yes, Israel has no right to exist as a criminal entity, practising open-ended occupation and apartheid and indulging in all forms of repression and savagery against a people whose only “crime”  is nothing other than being non-members in the “chosen-tribe club” So, let the Zionists chase the mirage of the desert for as long as they wish.

In the final analysis, humanity is under no legal or moral obligation to accept, condone or tolerate Jewish apartheid in Palestine  than it was to accept the apartheid of the former White supremacist regime in South Africa. Meanwhile the Zionists may seek to vent their endless frustration at humanity by threatening to unleash their stale scarecrow of anti-Semitism in the face of critics. It is too late for them. The peoples of the world have already wakened up.  The magic has been annulled! and we will continue to tell the truth about the evil entity even if telling the truth is perceived as anti-Semitic

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What Does Shraddha Walker’s Murder Mean for Love in India?

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What Shraddha Walker's Murder Means to Love in India?

Earlier this month, India was shocked by the news of the murder of 28-year-old Shraddha Walker by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawalla. Aftab had killed Shraddha merely three days after they moved into their new home in Delhi in May this year. Aftab had cut the body of Shraddha into 35 pieces and stored them in a fridge. He was gradually disposing of the body parts in a nearby forest area.

Interfaith Couple and Sensational Murder Trial

After the news of Shraddha’s murder broke in mid-November following the arrest of Aftab Poonawalla, it became a sensational murder trial. The murder was debated on prime-time debates on TV.

While the murder was chilling and one could expect it to cause a sensation, it became a sensational murder trial for very wrong reasons in India. The fact that Shraddha and Aftab were an interfaith couple made it a sensational murder.

Even though Aftab has claimed that he killed Shraddha in a fit of rage while they were fighting, the police are yet to establish the motive for the murder. The media trial, however, has given a religious colour to the murder.  Some people, including those on TV debates, have dressed the murder in the language of religion.

Love Jihad?

The religious colour given to the Shraddha murder and the transcending of the murder beyond its context is a result of the Love Jihad discourse adopted by the ruling right-wing party BJP.  BJP used Loved Jihad as an electoral issue in many state elections.

At present, eleven states where BJP is in power have passed legislation against Love Jihad. The argument by the Hindu nationalists is that Muslim men intentionally fall in love with Hindu women and then these men force the women to convert from Hinduism to Islam.

Also Read: Love Jihad: A Conspiracy or a Political Campaign?

Demonizing Muslims

There are also attempts to demonize Muslims after the murder of Shraddha. A man from the UP state recently went on TV to support the actions of Aftab. He claimed to be a Muslim, named Rashid Khan and justified the cutting of Shraddha into 35 pieces.

When the police arrested the said man, it was found that he is a Hindu, named Vikas Gupta.

Vikas Gupta’s statement went viral on social media and Muslims were called out and demonized for his statement.

Also Read: Bollywood’s portrayal of Kashmir- Journey Of Representation From Heaven To Hell

A Setback to the Freedom to Love in India?

Shraddha’s sensational murder trial has raised questions about love in India. It will hurt the hard-won right of freedom to love.

There are two aspects to be considered. First is the freedom of young people to love or live in live-in relationships. Since the news of the murder reached almost every home in India, it will scare people from getting into live-in relationships. Further, society will also be suspicious of these relationships. Live-in couples already face difficulty in negotiating the conservative society in India and the case will only exacerbate it. For instance, live-in couples in India find it difficult to find a house or rented accommodation. Aftab and Shraddha also lived in rented accommodation. More people than ever before will now hesitate to rent their accommodations to live-in couples.

Second, as discussed above Shraddha’s murder will make it worse for interfaith couples to negotiate everyday life in India. Even though India was never a safe place for interfaith couples, the case is going to make society hostile to interfaith love. Those who were already against interfaith love will use this case to further cement their position on Love Jihad.

Further, society in general parents of young people in particular will turn hostile against love.

Also Read: The mainstreaming of anti-Muslim Hindutva Pop in India 

A Difficult Task Ahead

The sensational murder trial and the media trial of Shraddha’s murder by Aftab have raised questions about love in India. Further, the discourse of Love Jihad is also back. Hindu nationalists will make sure that the case is exploited to its full to make a case for Love Jihad.

For those in India, who want to preserve the hard-won right of freedom to love, the task ahead is very difficult. Even though the case has already become sensational, they must make sure that it is restricted to its immediate context. If the case transcends its immediate context, hate will win against love. Love must triumph!

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The Scope of inter-religious pluralism within Islam

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Even though pluralism is a loaded term, its generic meaning suggests a phenomenon of peaceful coexistence between entities of diverse cultural, religious, and political inclinations. It is important to remember that pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, nor does the word “tolerance” do justice to its intended purpose. Pluralism is not merely tolerating the other but engaging with the beliefs of others with peaceful dialogue and action. The scope of inter-religious puralism within Islam proposes this kind of pluralism.

Also, read Islamic Democracy: Is Democracy Compatible with Islam?

What does Pluralism mean in Islam?

Looking at the subjective meaning of pluralism within the ambit of Islam, the proponents of various Islamic discourses have proposed that pluralism is a pronounced feature of Islam. Many Muslim intellectuals claim that pluralism is central to the fundamental essence of Islam. A convincing case can be made for the presence of a compelling pluralistic ethos within the Islamic scriptures.

In his essay, Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective, Mehran Kamrava claims that the rise in the level of religiosity amongst Muslims has given rise to other forms of Islam. One of which according to him is “likely to have the most resonating consequences for Islamic jurisprudence in both the near and the distant future” and calls it “intellectual Islam”. He claims that it is through this form of Islam that a Muslim reformist discourse is introduced. Which has produced significant work to locate the place of inter-religious pluralism in Islam. He further derives some themes out of the reformist discourse, very important with their reference to pluralism in Islam:

“First is a deep and abiding conviction in Islam as faith and a system of belief. In its current manifestation, the discourse of reformist Muslim intellectuals does not seek to instrumentalize Islam for purposes of achieving modernity in a manner palatable to the masses at large. Islam is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. It simply needs to be re-thought and reformulated. The reformists’ reliance on and endless references to the Qur’an bespeaks of the text’s cultural centrality to them.”.

Such display of absolute faith by Muslim reformists whilst having reformist inclinations bespeak of their balanced position. A flexible modern vision can develop interfaith dialogue. The abiding conviction to Islam earns a sense of authenticity for their thought process in the eyes of fellow Muslims.

Read here, Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women

What is Democratic Pluralism?

The next theme of the reformist discourse is “democratic pluralism”: “Pluralism, the reformist discourse’s proponents maintain, is a salient feature of the spirit of the Qur’an and the hadith.” (Kamrava )

To support his claim he cites another Muslim intellectual Abdulaziz Sachedina who quotes:

The challenge for Muslims today, as ever, is to tap the tradition of Koranic pluralism to develop a culture of restoration, of just intrareligious and interreligious relationships in a world of cultural and religious diversity. Without restoring the principle of coexistence, Muslims will not be able to recapture the spirit of early civil society under the Prophet.

In the globalized world, the facets of modernity like its political model of the nation-state have become a governing principle for all ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism. This means the only larger identity governing the religious identity of the people is that of the nation-state. In the religiously pluralistic society of today, people may have different identities, but the model of the nation-state promises all of them the same status. People might identify with different religious inclinations, but the state identifies them as either citizens or residents of the state. This is exactly the kind of challenge that Sachedina talks about when he implores Muslims to revive the tradition of pluralism that is central to the Islamic texts for peaceful coexistence in the globalized world.

Also, read Why should dignified Muslims never normalize with Israel?

The Case of Muslims living as a minority

If Muslims live in a minority in a nation-state that runs on one of the political models of modernity like democracy or secularism, then for the sake of the welfare of Muslims they need to fulfill the duties that the nation-state demands from them. Andrew March talks about the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities also called Fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-muslima in Arabic:

Fiqh alaqalliyyat tends to be a discourse where departures from traditional Islamic commitments are not seen as desirable, and certainly not goals in and of themselves, but where creative rethinking often occurs in subtle and pragmatic guises. It is thus an important object of study for those interested in the ideal moral encounter between a public religion like Islam and modern/post-modern secularism. (March 6).

Important questions of interest toward non-Islamic institutions have been addressed from within internal Islamic discourses that advocate for a positive Muslim attitude concerning the issue of pluralism.

Read here, How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir

Islam’s relation with other Faiths

The third theme within the reformist Islamic discourse is “Islam’s relations with other great faiths”. An important aspect central to the Muslim understanding of pluralism is the conception that god’s message in the Quran is universal and that the revelation was made through more than just one prophet, which means that the revelations had multiple manifestations. The basic underpinning for this idea can be seen in the Quran which mentions the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the Quran in fact validates that Torah and Bible were predecessor scriptures affirming that their message has come from the same god. Many Quranic verses echo the sentiments which envisage a world where diversified people are united by their pious intentions and mutual devotion to God.

Also, read Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?

Some Important Milestones in the Islamic History

Apart from the theoretical contributions to promote Islamic pluralism, efficient action has also been taken within the Muslim discourse on a practical level to perpetuate inter-faith harmony.

One such historic step was the “1981 adoption of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, whose article XIII states: Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.”.

Apart from this, another significant step was taken in 1990 when the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam was adopted, Article 1(a) of which states:

“All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.”

Read here, Is This the Ultimate Solution to Rising Islamophobia in India?

Islamic Tradition of Peaceful Coexistence

The Quran recognizes fundamental rights for all humankind whether Muslims or non-Muslims and explicitly forbids compulsion in faith. The Islamic texts also provide a practical model of implementing pluralistic ideals which have greatly affected the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. Contrary to the Islamophobic stereotypes, Islam not only acknowledges pluralism, but it also goes beyond the reductive concepts of tolerance and intolerance to endorse and encourages a tradition of peaceful coexistence.

Also, read Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women

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