The idea of body-positivity has been on my mind a lot lately. Being that this is a weight loss blog, I think this is an important thing to discuss from time to time. If you’re not familiar with the term “body-positive”, it simply refers to the idea of accepting all body types as valid. Or, put another way, there is no “correct” body type. I would like to mention that I tend to think of body-positivity in terms of health—meaning I find it important for one to be healthy at the same time as one is loving one’s body, whether that body is thin, fat, or anywhere in between.
As I said in the first post on this blog, I am not pro-skinny, and I am not pro-fat. I’m actually a very big proponent of the idea of being body-positive, which means that I’ve come to really hate those “real women have curves”-type graphics you see floating around on Facebook and such. On the surface, it’s a nice sentiment, but at the same time as it’s offering encouragement to “curvy” women, it’s also telling women who are lacking in that regard that there’s something wrong with them. Hint: If you wouldn’t be ok with a thin person (or any type of person) telling a fat person that their fatness makes them disgusting, then you shouldn’t be ok with a fat person (or any type of person) telling a thin person that their thinness makes them disgusting. Neither train of thought is helpful to either group of people. As Wil Wheaton would say, don’t be a dick. That’s really what it boils down to.
So this image, which I’ve also seen floating around on Facebook, is much more to my liking.
I also wanted to share an article a friend of mine shared on—where else?—Facebook, “The Shame of Fat-Shaming“, by Sayantani Dasgupta. Ms. Dasgupta writes,
The resource-hogging ‘obese patient’ has become the new version of the welfare queen in our popular imaginations. Such stereotypes about any community – that they are infantile, monstrous, unthinking, lazy, whiney and resource-wasting – isn’t only emotionally damaging but potentially physically harmful. As the blogger at Shakesville asserts: ‘fat hatred kills.’
Physicians cannot use concerns over health to legitimize bias. Medicine is not a moralizing stick with which we can beat our patients into submission.
I thought she made a lot of interesting points in this article.
Body-shaming does not do anyone any good. I would probably not have spent the majority of my adult life feeling like some sort of morally bankrupt monster just because I was fat if our culture were more body-positive. I have thankfully, at least not to my recollection, never felt as though a health care professional was fat-shaming me. I can’t even begin to imagine how greatly that would not have helped matters.
So regardless of if you are a health care professional (but especially if you are a health care professional), I would ask some things of you:
- Encourage those you love to love themselves
- Or, failing that—I had tons of positive reinforcement from my loved ones, but I hated how much I weighed, and by extension, myself—encourage them instead to do what they feel is necessary so that they may come to love themselves (within reason, of course—absolutely draw the line at encouraging self-harm). This goes doubly for anyone with friends who are trying to be healthy and lose weight. You might be afraid of that change for whatever reason. That does not matter. Only your friend’s health and happiness matter, and they need your support.
- Do not body-shame others in an effort to encourage your loved ones who might not love themselves—that really is counter-productive
Support body-positivity, and discourage body-shaming. It’s important for your health and well-being, and for that of the people around you. Diversity is, as they say, the spice of life—and you may not like certain flavors, but someone somewhere is loving them. So let there be love.