‘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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Friday

Here is another Friday, and another … failed week. I shall review Friday as opposed to anything else, because once again I have not finished anything of importance.

This week I intended to get up and leave the house by 5:30am in order to get to the gym for some intense spin classes, and incorporate a weight lifting workout, before work. I also intended to keep strictly to my proper healthy diet and not give in to overeating or anything that would wreak havoc on my digestive system. But oh, how alluring are those foods that wreak havoc on digestive systems!

I overslept three mornings out of five due to exhaustion. I tried to make it up on those three mornings by attending lunchtime gym classes. The first was a complete failure. I signed up for a Pilates class at my gym, and I spent an hour waving my legs in the air and yawning out of complete boredom. It did not challenge me at all and I kept thinking of the hour I could have spent doing a strenuous leg day! The second day I overslept, I tried to incorporate leg day during my lunch break, but time was my enemy and I only managed to do half of what I was supposed to. I pat myself on the back, however, because at least I DID something, no?

I truly failed when it came to my diet. At work, people love food. They love to bring in treats and desserts, and it is always someone’s birthday, or someone has returned from a Congress in another country and brought back goodies from said country, or someone brings in platters of cheese and crackers, or bowls of snacks because it’s their one year anniversary at work… the list goes on! And, try as I might to avoid it, I always manage to succumb. Always.

Added to that, I am sitting at my desk all day, and the 45min to an hour gym sessions I force myself to attend are not enough activity. So I am snacking all day with minimal movement, and I got on the scales this morning to see I have gained around 4 kilos since the beginning of October. I looked at my tummy and realised that the garish protrusion is not due to a bloat… who bloats in the morning after having skipped dinner last night?… it is due to fat deposits making themselves at home in my midsection. The worst part is, they are uninvited, ugly and don’t pay rent!

So today I am in a horrible slump. My week has tumbled down a rocky crevice and is lying at the bottom somewhere, in a crumpled heap. It is fine, but it has no energy to drag itself up and its heart hurts.

You see, I was reading Anne of Avonlea through to Anne of Ingleside this week. The years of Anne’s blossoming into adulthood, taking her stunning imagination with her, and also the burgeoning romance she has with Gilbert, and the beautiful family they produce.

Ah, Gilbert. How I always yearned for a Gilbert. Gilbert is handsome, reliable, ambitious but aware of his own limits and those of the world around him. Gilbert is worldly, but also a kindred spirit. Gilbert loves Anne relentlessly, wholly, truly, fully, and has always loved her. Gilbert has no eyes and heart for anybody but Anne, and he revels in her words and thoughts and takes active part in her musings and her worlds. Gilbert says he didn’t notice a ‘very beautiful woman’ because his eyes are only on his wife.

What a lie. No man would not notice a very beautiful woman. Some men notice them too much.

And, you see, when I first got married, I too thought I had a Gilbert. Sometimes I still do think so. But rereading these books again after a good nine years, I realised that Gilbert is as real as a blue moon. As passing as a little baby spider floating on a gossamer thread in the spring wind.

This week, I feel as if it is going to shambles.

I feel misunderstood. I feel ignored. I feel as though barriers have been put up to me, and while it might be partly due to my own attitude, I feel like no real effort is being made to truly understand me. I feel like I am the one trying to do the understanding, and nothing is being done to try to understand or appreciate my thoughts and needs.

I feel neglected.

I feel halved.

I feel sore and missing.

I wrote an ode to Friday, some time back, and today, Friday has done me no wrong, but I don’t feel happy in her warm embrace. She is still comforting, however. She gently reminds me of rest to come, warmth and tea. She reminds me I will be seeing my family soon, and that I have two glorious days in which to take care of myself. She also reminds me bitterly that I will not be able to take much time out for self care during these two days, but adds that some time is better than no time.

Marriage is hard. Sacrifices have to be made, and I want to make them, but my heart hurts when I think that perhaps, maybe, sacrifices don’t want to be made for me?

Oh. I’m feeling blue.

 

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On Wanting Cake

So I have been going to the gym pretty consistently this past week. Well. Since Tuesday.

Actually, I’ve only been on Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday and today.

But still.

I have started weight training now, because apparently that burns fat a lot quicker and builds muscle in the correct areas depending on what you focus on and how much you do.

Anyway.

The point of this drivel is that because I am now lifting weights, I am becoming more hungry. I am RAVENOUS, in fact. All I think about is FOOD. Which is terrible because I am trying to lose weight!

A quick search on the old internet has taught me that when the body realises it is burning a hell of a lot more energy, it tries quickly to replace what has been burnt off so the bodyweight balances out.

What bad news.

This means that if I want to lose weight properly, I have to… FEEL HUNGRY?

This is proving to be exceptionally difficult. I am trying to curb my appetite by eating healthy fruits and vegetables, a higher amount of protein, and lowering my sugar intake. I have had bananas and peanut butter (so delicious), a lot of protein shakes, and plenty of grilled vegetables with limited oil.

But all I really want is a fat juicy burger and some crispy, salty french fries.

I made this cake four weeks ago and it was so delicious, now I am dreaming of it. Have a look at its golden halo. This is truly the cake of champions. However, I shall persevere.

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I Want to be Thin

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And it’s on my mind everyday.

Sometimes I get upset about it, and that makes me go for an ASDA smart price chocolate bar in D’s snack drawer. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at just one smart price chocolate bar. Sometimes it’s two or three plus a mini Kit Kat and a mug of coffee…. with sugar!

But I want to be thin.

I want to be slender and graceful and flowy like those 1920s women in their straight dresses.

I want to have thin arms, and thighs that look smooth and tight and shapely beneath my clothes.

I don’t want my extra bits.

So I try to cycle them away.

I gym them away.

They do like to persevere. An odd pokey bit here, a spillage over my jeans, thighs that are a little too large for my fancy, squidgy bits under my arms..

Maybe it’s not healthy to obsess about it like I do. In fact it definitely probably isn’t. But the way I see it is like this: Never settle for anything less than perfection.

My body is not perfection. And I have no excuses, other than laziness and one too many chocolate bars. Also lack of will power.

So, I won’t. Settle. For anything less than perfection in my eyes.

 

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Muscle Mania

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Iron Girl by Dani Jennings

 

We woke up this morning to malignant ice covering every surface. It appeared to have sprouted it’s frosty tendrils overnight, like some sort of arctic fungus, through roads, pavements, cars and roofs. The whole world was blanketed with a frosty white. The air was sharp with cold. The biting kind, that creeps up on you when you least expect it, and causes your fingers to go numb.

The ache in my muscles is raw.

Today is a rest day.

I have been going to the gym every day this past week. My clothes are saturated in sweat by the end of it. I feel pumped and happy, even though the pain is near unbearable.

I got up and pottered about, getting ready to leave the house. As I pulled off my pyjamas, and stood in front of the mirror under the harsh white light of the bedroom, I noticed how wobbly my legs were. They weren’t exactly shapeless, but in the mirror I could see that the skin was not smooth and tight over my muscles. There was fat in places there hadn’t been before, and the shape wasn’t as streamlined as I like to imagine. In fact, I realised that although I had already put in so much work, there was still a very very long way to go.

They feel amazing though. My legs. All my muscles ache and ache, I can feel them slowly tightening. So at the moment I don’t care the they don’t look that great. I am getting there, slowly but surely. I can feel it, that’s all that matters right now.

Tomorrow is Abs and Arms day!

My mother in law very kindly made me a sandwich and gave me a snickers bar to take with me,  the latter of which I slipped into my husband’s drawer when she left. Clean eating, I thought to myself, is the only way to see satisfying results, rather than only feel them.