My husband and I were discussing the blog the other night, while cuddling on couch. He said that someone told him that the body positive movement was only created so overweight people can feel good about being overweight. My husband, bless his heart, said maybe the movement would have more legitimacy if there was more to it.
I tried not to let my rage boil over and burn his face.
First off, and this is truly just a side note, there is nothing wrong with people loving their body type even if it is not ideal. Just because you don’t find something aesthetically attractive doesn’t mean other people won’t. The fact that we need a movement so women can stop hiding in their homes and be out in the world is a sign that it is needed. No woman, no one, should have to hide in shame because of how they look.
So, let’s have a come to Jesus meeting, shall we? The idea that people can love themselves, no matter what they look like, is an idea that is positive for everyone.
We live in a time when up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.
• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
(Thank you, ANAD, for the statistics.)
Young girls are being brainwashed into believing there is only one ideal for beauty. This ideal is perpetrated by fashion, “health” and weight loss companies in order to protect their profits. These companies control the advertisements and images in the media. Every generation has to take the place of the last, in order to preserve their bottom lines.
Have you noticed that so many of the dissenters to the movement are people who profit from either “health” or “weight loss” products? So many of them are physical fitness trainers who make money through fear and shame. Just sayin’.
I remember being in elementary school, feeling overweight. Even at a young age, I already had begun to devalue myself because of what I perceived as flaws. I have always had big calves, my hair color doesn’t really fit into one of the three color options, I had freckles, and body was wider. This dissatisfaction seeped it’s way into my self confidence. By the time I went to middle school I had given up on the idea of ever being pretty or smart. Fat girls weren’t pretty. Fat girls weren’t smart. I would never be good at anything athletic. There was no place for me in sports. Fat girls don’t play sports.
I only wish I would have been introduced to the body positive movement then.
That is when I turned to food for comfort, and my body started looking like what I already saw it as. This is Body Dysmorsphic Disorder. No matter what my body actually looks like, I see the same image in the mirror. I saw no difference in my body 100 pound lighter than what it looks like now. It was less confusing for me when my body matches what I think it is.
Many girls in that same stage look towards unhealthy coping mechanisms. These turn into eating disorders of all types.
That’s where the body positive movement comes into play for me. By detaching my self-worth from my outward appearance, I am able to stop trying to make my body be what I thought it should be. My body is what it is, and it doesn’t matter. My body doesn’t have to conform to anything, and it certainly does not define who I am.
It’s amazing what happened when I stopped believing the lie that I was too fat for things. I learned that I love to hike, an athletic pursuit. My natural rhythm and body control began to show through, and I discovered my love for dance. I stopped listening to the voice in my head that tries to tell me what I can’t do. I stopped believing that because I am fat, that I should stay home and play video games and generally be invisible.
Becoming “body positive” isn’t about being okay with looking overweight. It’s about detaching my self-worth from my outward appearance, no matter what that appearance may be. Isn’t that something that everyone can identify with?
Skinny women can have insecurities about their appearance. They are shamed, bullied, and disrespected because of how they look. Emma Stone was shamed for being too skinny.
Men can have insecurities about their appearance. They are shamed, bullied, and disrespected because of how they look. Christopher encountered internet shame because he didn’t fit the ideal.
People with disabilities, disfigurements, and health issues can have insecurities about their appearance. They are shamed, bullied, and disrespected because of how they look. Sarah Atwell was bullied because of her neaurofibromatosis.
This not just an “overweight women” thing. It’s a humanity thing. Get on board.