‘Body Positivity’ is Wildly Misunderstood

“Body positivity.”

There is plenty of that dish going around, sparking many a heated debate and freeing many a hateful social media comment – pinging loudly through the internet and creating a chaos of unprecedented proportions.

After all, what is wrong with saying we should be ‘body positive’? Is it harming anybody?

Let us dissect this a little further, before I add my voice to this already saturated discussion.

The ‘body positive’ movement has received a lot of criticism and applaud, in equal measures, over the last decade or so. The movement, quite simply, states that all bodies should be celebrated and accepted, in all their forms. The movement aims to prevent feelings of insecurity and inadequacy in people who only see one particular figure-type being glorified in the media and in society; the movement highlights that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you are still worthy of self-love, and other love, that you are still valid as a human being.

On the face of it, this is a perfectly reasonable statement.

So why are many people opposed to this?

I shall tell you.

People say that the body positive movement ‘glorifies’ weight gain and fat people, that it is unhealthy to say that it is ‘okay to be fat’, because it gives ‘fat’ people less of an incentive to lose wight, and aim for better lifestyles. People (especially non-fat people) actually become quite het up about this on the internet, saying that the body positive movement glorifies obesity and ‘thin-shames’ people who aren’t fat.

So, in light of these discussions, which I have combed through extensively on the internet, I have had a little think about this, and this is what I have come up with.

Firstly, in order to lend an opinion to this argument, it is worth highlighting one very significant point: Nothing ever stays the same.

People are on continuous journeys throughout their lives, that is a fact.

Secondly, the body positive movement highlights that no matter what size you are, you are worthy. This does not mean they are glorifying fat people. To call an obese woman ‘beautiful’ does not insinuate that she is beautiful because she is obese; she can be beautiful because she is just that, beautiful. The movement aims to highlight that just because somebody is ‘fat’, that extra weight does not define who they are, that they can still be beautiful and wildly successful in the same way as a smaller person can.

It aims to break the mould surrounding the idea that in order to be beautiful or accepted, one’s body must be looked at and judged first.

So, in light of the fact that nothing ever stays the same, it makes sense to come to the conclusion that fat comes and goes also.

People can say things like, ‘being fat is unhealthy’ and ‘she is unfit because she is fat’ and ‘posting photoghraphs of your fat body on the internet tells people its okay to be unhealthy’ – but what most of them are failing to realise is that they don’t know what the full picture entails.

Just because somebody is fat, it doesn’t mean they are just sitting at home eating junk all day. They could be active in their lives, lifting weights and going to fitness classes, coaching yoga and teaching Pilates. They could be wildly successful entrepreneurs, excellent parents, wonderful children, the kindest beings on earth. They could be writers, poets, carpenters, skilled chefs. They could be hard working, have excellent ethics and wildly funny. Just like a thin person can. We just don’t know, you see, and to judge a person by how they look, despite not knowing the truth of their circumstances, is damaging and demoralising.

I do understand, of course, that this is the internet and people do say whatever they want, regardless of what it could mean to somebody else and disregarding the fact that they don’t know the full story.

However, I think it is important to highlight that the #body positive movement is wildly misunderstood.

Sure, people who are obese get a lot of disparagement both online and in public – a lot of humanity is not very kind – and the movement itself is criticised heavily, even by obese people, because it is believed to be purporting the idea that being fat is fine. Being overweight isn’t the most ideal situation, naturally, but that certainly does not mean people who are so deserve to be treated like anything less than a human being. They have the same rights as a thin person, they are not alien or different, they have the same feelings and emotions and deserve the basic human right of having that recognised.

Being fat does not make you a lesser human, and being treated with kindness and consideration should not be conditioned by what the scale says or how many fat cells your body clings on to.

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