Body positivity movements are not one size fits all. Women from diverse backgrounds have different experiences, struggles and social influences, all of which inform the way they view their individual bodies. They subsequently require and deserve culturally relevant resources that address and embrace those differences. With this in mind, Gloria Lucas founded Nalgona Positivity Pride (NPP), a multi-platform "Xican@-Brown*-Indigenous" network dedicated to raising eating disorder awareness in communities of color and "decolonizing" body positivity.
A self-described "chubby warrior, DIY punx educator, and eating disorder survivor," Lucas launched NPP two years ago in response to the pervasiveness of heteronormative, white ideals shared through mainstream body-positive movements.
“I struggled with binge eating and bulimia for a very long time, and I didn’t seek help," Lucas shares. She says the dearth of mainstream coverage of Latinas' experiences with eating disorders is one of the reasons she did not speak out at the time. “Nalgona Positivity Pride was my opportunity to give back to the community and offer what I wish I would have had during those very tough times with my eating disorder.”
Many Latinas struggle with disordered eating and body image issues. In fact, there's evidence to suggest that more acculturated Latinas may be particularly susceptible to developing disordered eating patterns. Ignoring their struggles isn’t just deplorable, it’s dangerous.
The most common diagnoses for Latinas is Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), a common and deadly eating disorder that does not meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating -- which in turn makes it very difficult to treat.
It's facts like these that drove Lucas to create NPP.
A multifaceted project that includes a website, an Etsy store, access to bilingual resources and an eating disorders support group, NPP sets itself apart from mainstream eating disorder resources and body positive movements by recognizing the roles colonization, assimilation, systemic oppression and racism play in the development of low self-esteem and mental illnesses like eating disorders among people of color.
“NPP first addresses the fact that the problem isn’t really us; it’s the way the system works,” explains Lucas. “People of color received very mixed messages about their bodies. There’s the message that we’re inferior, that we are dirty, that we are ugly, that we’re not intelligent.” Those messages, Lucas says, have been passed down from generation to generation, and often perpetuate the belief that white, slender bodies are desirable; and darker, curvier bodies are not.
Making matters worse is the fact that many present-day body positive movements purport to embrace diverse bodies, but fail to represent and include women of color. Lucas addresses these issues in-person through her workshops, as well as online via NPP's various social accounts and Etsy store.
With the help of local artists and friends, Lucas designs and sells t-shirts, buttons and stickers that empower, reflect and uplift "Xicana-Brown*-Indigenous" people. "I just feel a really big need to be creative and to put out there what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking and people are responding to it," she shares. "It makes it clear that there aren’t many things out there that are meeting our needs as brown people."
“Nalgona Positivity Pride was my opportunity to give back to the community and offer what I wish I would have had during those very tough times with my eating disorder.”
Lucas is also working on a Zine which will be titled "I'm Not White And I Have An Eating Disorder." In the future, the L.A.-based Xicana hopes to take her work on the road with a fashion truck. "It’s like a mobile boutique where I can go to places and sell my merch and give workshops," Lucas explains. "I’m really focusing on highlighting the voices of brown women. Part of the reason we don’t love ourselves is that we don’t get celebrated, we don’t get recognize. I want to use my t-shirts and my posters and my stickers to celebrate us."
Thank you, Gloria. Thank you.
Lucas uses "brown*" to refer to the "mixed descendants of the indigenous from (what is known today as) the Americas," as well as Afro-Latinos.