You don’t have to wander far into the body positive world before you find dissenters. You see them scream from the roof tops that they believe the movement promotes unhealthy lifestyles, using the the same arguments over and over. I have heard the phrase “promotes obesity” so many times that it seems cliche.
The only thing that really cures ignorance is information. Far more knowledgeable and resourceful people have tried.Yet, I feel like sharing my story anyway. Despite what those in the “health” and weight loss industries want you to believe, becoming body positive has lead to a healthier lifestyle.
First off, I am choosing to detach my self worth from my outward appearance. It’s not about loving what I look like at the moment. It’s about loving who I am as a whole. If I lose weight and look different, I will still love myself. Yes, I look in the mirror and tell myself I am gorgeous. I will find myself drop dead gorgeous no matter what my weight is. The cornerstone of the movement is that it I believe that every one (man or woman) has a right to feel this way as well.
Giving myself permission to be confident no matter my size has led to living a much healthier lifestyle. I participate in large quantities of cardio three nights a week. I was never comfortable working out, let alone sweating, in front of other people before. I was so focused on what other people thought of me, I was paralyzed. Thanks to the body positive movement, I am no longer a slave to the opinions of others. I also hike, almost, every weekend. These hikes started as 1-2 mile walks. I am up to 9+ mile trails now.
Sure, I am fat. I can also hike almost 10 miles without a single problem. Am I still promoting obesity? Am I still lazy?
Here’s the thing. There is a large amount of people in the world who shame fat people for being in public. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if your fat there is a chance someone will take a picture of you and shame you on the internet. You are always at risk of someone yelling things, or making snarky comments. It takes a lot of confidence to overcome this. That confidence came to me through the body positive movement. I no longer worry about whether I will be internet shamed for being a fat girl on a trail, or on the dance floor. Without the movement I would still be staying in my house, feeling ashamed and alone. So, tell me which one of these options is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle? The theory that says that I am a decent person who deserves to participate in the world? Or the idea that I am fat and therefore lazy, worthless, and shouldn’t be seen in public. (I’m looking at you, John Burk.)
Frankly, it’s easier to care for something you love. I have more interest in eating healthy and exercising because I love my body. This has lead to the development of healthy lifestyle choices in ways that are not intrusive, dangerous, or unmanageable. This means I will be less likely to stop my healthy habits and yo-yo back. I am making these changes in small, sustainable steps. These will be lifelong habits. I don’t care what size I am. I’m going to try to eat healthy regardless.
Here’s a crazy thing. Without so much shame and guilt hanging over my head every day, I eat less. I don’t reach for soda as quickly. When we do eat out, I never finish my drink and rarely do I ever finish my meal. I’m winning the battle against emotional eating without even having to wage the war. When I do slip, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t become this deep shame spiral of over eating. I have every right to enjoy a slice of cake.
We are living in a society where the minority (over 70% of women in the US are size 14 or over) get to shame and emotionally abuse the majority. The fashion, “health” and weight loss industries need us to hate ourselves. Their messages are the main reason why society has such a skewed view of beauty. Really think about how many companies would go out of business if we stopped hating ourselves so much. If we all just woke up one day and realized what we need to live a healthier, happier life, is to love ourselves. We don’t need expensive diets, work out tapes, shakes, or trainers to become better versions of ourselves.
Look, if shaming people was a successful tool for the “obesity epidemic” don’t you think it would be over by now? Maybe it’s time to try something different. Come join us in an exercise in acceptance. Let us love ourselves without having to defend it. Don’t tell me that I am promoting obesity because I post pictures of myself at the end of a hike. How about just cheering the the fact that I accomplished a goal and go about your way?
Or better yet, mind your own business? There’s a novel idea.
Want to know the saddest truth to this whole thing? The fact that I felt the need to write this blog at all. I cannot believe that groups of people still have to fight to be treated like human beings. I shouldn’t have to write 1,000 words to prove that I deserve to be spoken to, and about, with respect. No one should have to prove they are not lazy or being unhealthy.
Honestly, that’s kind of my decision, anyway. Even if I was choosing to ignore my health, and being everything you accuse me of being, it doesn’t affect you.
Using the excuse of “health” as cover doesn’t excuse essentially discriminating against someone because they look differently than you. Some people has extreme health issues. There are thousands of reasons why someone would not conform to your idea of conventional beauty. That doesn’t make it okay for your to fly under the cloak of anonymity and be ignorantly hurtful. If you care, you’ll also care about the potential for emotional and mental damage. Don’t forget, fat people are still people. Just like you.
Stay in your lane. Focus on your own journey. In the meantime, I have to get ready to go dancing. That’s 5 hours of cardio (yes, with breaks every 20-30 minutes for water.) How lazy of me.