Who Deserves A Positive Body Image?
In case you missed it, last week there was a pretty disturbing video making it’s way around the internet. It was a sad attempt at calling out fat people and basically said it was OK (and a good thing) to shame them. Although it was incredibly bigoted and harmful it also put the topic of body shaming and more specifically, fat shaming, out in the spotlight of the social media world. It was difficult to watch the entire video (and in fact, I couldn’t- and no, I will not provide a link) so instead I read the comments (most of them).
The video’s creator and many of it’s supporters argued how fat people don’t deserve to have a positive body image; that they have no right to feel good about their body or about themselves because obviously they’re unhealthy and set a bad example for everyone else.
They encouraged fat shaming in hopes of making people who are fat feel horrible enough to change their apparent unhealthy habits, slim down, lose weight and finally become acceptable human beings.
As a fitness professional, I have come across this argument more times than I care to mention and most of time it’s from other fitness professionals (some of which even work with clients struggling with eating disorders). Which is why I started my own business in the first place….
So the question is this:
Do fat people deserve to have a positive body image?
The majority of this country would most likely say NO; obviously their unhealthy habits are the cause for their large size, right? You don’t see society encouraging and applauding smokers or druggies when they develop lung cancer or over dose so why should we support and/or encourage those classified as obese or over weight? Wouldn’t that mean we are saying it’s OK to be that size? Wouldn’t we be saying it’s OK to be fat and happy? Wouldn’t we be condoning their unhealthy behavior?
And my answer to you is YES! We would be saying it is OK to be a larger size (because it is)! And YES- it’s OK to be fat and happy, in fact it’s fantastic that you are fat and happy because studies show that our over all health is negatively effected by stress (being unhappy) so if you are happy, your health is benefitting.
We all deserve to be happy and that means we all have the right to accept and even love our own body no matter what size or shape it happens to be. Accepting your body is not, and never should be, something you must ask permission to do; It’s not an exclusive right set aside for those that fall into one of the arbitrary categories of the BMI. It’s part of our right as a human being. And although it may feel like there’s some invisible judge handing out worthiness cards everyday when we get dressed, the only person we really need permission from to feel worthy is ourselves.
It’s not about letting yourself go, it’s about letting go of judgment
And as for condoning unhealthy behavior, this is one area of prejudice we really must begin to tackle; you cannot determine a persons health simply be looking at them. If that were the case we really wouldn’t need doctors. The belief that fat = unhealthy is an insidious message funded by the government and pharmaceutical companies. Learn more HERE.
Believing that you have the right to be at peace in your body exactly as it is can be a difficult pill to swallow for obvious reasons but it’s an important one. If we want to be fully functioning, completely present parents, grandparents, friends, students, employees, employers, spouses, activists, politicians, ect, we cannot be stuck thinking we are trapped in an unworthy body. You see, this whole body positive and body love movement thing is more than just erasing the stigma faced by those in larger bodies or tall bodies or short bodies or skinny bodies, it is a movement to improve our society as a whole. To let go of our body projects (diets and obsessive exercise) and bring attention back to the things that can really move our world forward.
Imagine for a moment if we lived in a society where we weren’t so obsessed about our weight. Yeah, I want to live there too (I especially want my son to live there).
Where can we start to cultivate this society? By first giving ourselves permission to fully accept and may be even someday love the skin we’re currently in. It all starts with you making the decision that you are enough just as you are.