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Body Positivity, fat shaming-The Hijacking of a movement

I usually refrain from doing pure opinion posts. I do inject my thoughts into articles, after I’ve presented both sides of an argument, with links to the sources cited. No apologies for that.  I have an opinion too. But pure opinion pieces, I tend to avoid. Why am I choosing to do it now? Well, I’ve grown tired of people hijacking movements and misrepresenting the original ideas behind them and in the process, perverting them. Especially, when you’re in a position of influence and doing more harm than good.

Let’s take the body positivity movement. First I’ll give a little background on it and then my issues with it, or some people who hide behind it, like Tess Holiday and Sonalee Rashatwar. Let’s be clear, no one should shame anyone for what their bodies look like, whether obese, skinny, discolored, scarred, or otherwise. Nor should you be ashamed of yourself, for so called imperfections. I’ll repeat this statement throughout this post, for the “righteous anger” people, who will choose to misinterpret what I say, just to have something to rail against. Maybe they might get the point by the end of the post, if they make it that far.

What is the Body Positivity Movement?

The movement is based on the idea that all people should have a positive body image, regardless of being fat, skinny, scarred, etc. In general positive, regardless of any perceived imperfections, as defined by society. You should accept and love yourself period. That in a nutshell is what the movement is supposed to be about. And I’m all for it. Now, how did it all begin? The movement has it’s roots in the “fat acceptance” movement which has so far occurred in 3 waves.

The first wave In 1967, a “fat-in” was organised by radio personality, Steve Post, in Central Park. Post, was reported as saying the gathering “was to protest discrimination against fat.”  About 500 people showed up, protesting fat oppression and burned images of Twiggy (Supermodel). Several months after the gathering an author by the name of Lew Louderback wrote an essay entitled “More People Should be Fat!”  This was in response to discrimination his wife experienced as a result of her size [1].

The combination of events inspired the formation of NAAFA (The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance). The movement’s goal was to  change the dialogue surrounding obesity and health, and spread awareness of the distinction between being fat and being unhealthily obese [2].

The second wave This was built on the foundation of the 1st wave, and came about in the 90’s. The fat acceptance/body positivity, 90’s movement included to some extent, the idea of giving people of all sizes, a place where they could comfortably come together and exercise. There was a greater focus on  programs specifically for overweight people. Popular programs included, “Making Waves” which was a weekly fat swim, and  Genia Pauli Haddon and Linda DeMarco’s home exercise video series “Yoga For Round Bodies,” among others [1].

The third wave The 3rd wave covers the 2000’s till the present. This wave now includes plus sized models and feminists like Instagram influencer, Tess Holiday. Another group grew out of the movement to include all manner of body acceptance (body positivity) and isn’t specific to fat acceptance. So if you’re skinny, fat, have stretch marks, discolorations, imperfections, loose skin, scars or, non at all, you should still have a positive body image. Appearance should not matter, self image should be based on who you are as a person and learning to accept that person.

Issues with The Movement

I have no issues with having a positive image of oneself. I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind. No one should be turned down for a job because of size, shape, color or anything else. If you want to wear a bikini at the pool or beach, go for it, regardless of having loose skin, stretch marks, being too skinny or plus sized. It shouldn’t matter. No one has the right to shame anyone for the type of body they have.

However, let’s use some common sense.  Being morbidly obese, where your health suffers is not something positive and should not be promoted in any way. Just like we don’t celebrate being bulimic or anorexic. We, of course, should not shame anyone for being one or the other. Clearly these people need help. Whether you want to call them eating disorders or a disease, is irrelevant…There is a problem.

When I talk about being obese, I’m not referring to someone who is “thick” or curvy or plus sized in that way. You can be “thick,” curvy, full figured or plus sized and be perfectly healthy. Now, plus sized or full figured, generally means anything bigger/curvier than the stereotypical skinny, whip thin runway models or even more. So, there also is no hard and fast definition of this term.

Denise Bidot posing proudly, stretch marks and all
Stefania Ferrario ready for a night out of town
Ashley Graham on the beach rocking a two-piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is also pretty difficult to tell a person’s health, just by size alone. There are many skinny/thin people who are unhealthy and conversely many with higher BMI’s (body mass index) who are very healthy. In other cases, it’s blatantly obvious. More on that in a minute. If you look at the pics above, you’ll see women who are curvy, plus sized or “thick.” These women, according to what they say, workout and eat healthy and could very well be healthy. You really can’t tell by just looking at them. Just like you can’t tell by looking at a thin/slim person.

These are just some examples, so don’t get triggered if you don’t look exactly like that. FYI, if you look closely you can see stretch marks on Denise Bidot’s stomach…and who cares. I have them also, along with acne scars and other imperfections. The stretch marks came from when I was obese (no longer). I was never  “plus sized,” just obese and unhealthy (I changed that). See, no excuses.

Tess Holiday on Cosmopolitan

On the other hand, you have so called, “plus sized” models like Tess Holiday and Sonalee Rashatwar, who hide behind the body positivity and fat acceptance movements. Let’s be honest, you can definitely tell by looking at them, whether they’re healthy or not. Neither are full figured or curvy, just morbidly obese. I’m not trying to shame them, but when you’re a social media celebrity promoting yourself/brand, you’re open to critique.

If you’re gonna say “it’s none of your business whether they are obese…,” you’re full of crap. The same way you’ll say, that the rail thin runway models, and others with eating disorders, presents an unhealthy ridiculous unattainable image of what we should look like, so does the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s one thing to promote a healthy self image and body, quite another to promote obesity, which is what they and others like them do…whether that’s the intention or not.

Of course, Cosmopolitan (Tess on their cover) will say this is about promoting being comfortable in your own skin, no matter what you look like and not promoting obesity. Methinks this is more of an opportunity to capitalize on an emerging market and gain more readership, pander and placate the masses, more than anything else.

Both, Holiday and Rashatwar, also sell it as being comfortable in you own body, doing what makes you happy, and not promoting obesity. Say what you want, people, especially young kids who see this,  will be influenced by them and grow to accept obesity as being healthy. Here’s the thing, food addiction like drug addiction, or any other addiction is not positive. It is unhealthy and should be addressed, not celebrated (whether directly or indirectly). Stop pretending being 300+ lbs is healthy. So, no you can’t be fit and healthy with that size. And no, you can’t be healthy at every size. That’s just ridiculous. If either of them were rail thin and weighed 50 lbs, that would also be dangerous, and easy to judge as unhealthy, by just looking. Extremes are not healthy, period.

Holiday, Rashatwar and others like them will never lose the fat, not because it isn’t possible, but because it is their brand, and makes them a lot of money. Lose fat, get healthy and they lose their entire following and the money. FYI, Tess Holiday promotes body positivity, but unfollowed and shamed one of her fans, for posting before and after pics on Instagram after losing weight.

She did it because her doctor said she had high cholesterol and blood pressure, and needed to lose the weight. Good for her, for choosing health over being sick. Ironic how some body positivity people, shame others for just being in shape and caring about their health. Wasn’t it supposed to be about positivity at any shape, size, color, etc…?

Final Thoughts

I actually don’t have issues with the body positivity movement itself, as long as obesity and being unhealthy is not something being celebrated, under the banner of fat acceptance or body positivity. I 1000% agree that you should love yourself, no matter what. You should never shame anyone for their physical appearance, whether obese, skinny, scarred….To do so, is just bullying.

However don’t go around promoting being unhealthy as a good thing, and pretending that you can be healthy at 300+ lbs and 5 ft and a couple of inches. Cut the bulls*^t. Extremes in one direction or the other is not positive, It’s utter nonsense. I give props to those who keep it real and call out BS when they see it and not try to be politically correct.

Props to Michele McDaniel, and Alan Roberts from Every Damn Day Fitness, for calling out this nonsense on their youtube channels and other social media, despite the push back. I have no association with these people, but I like their content. I respect them for not trying to be politically correct and pandering to these body positivity abusers. They amongst others, agree with the fact that being positive, and loving yourself is a good thing. At the same time, they call out the people who hide behind body positivity and use it as an excuse to be unhealthy and make money from misguided followers.

Just focus on being healthy, which includes, eating healthy and exercising. Keep it real people, you cant improve if you won’t accept the truth about yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Body Positivity, fat shaming-The Hijacking of a movement

  1. I was about to comment to fully disagree your “hype on body positivity” before I read little bit further and figured out that you have actually very similar thoughts about body positivity and body positive movement as I have; I don’t believe discrimination based on skin color, body look, religion or discrimination on any manner. In my opinion, there are some gorgeous women that would be not “rated” as very beautiful IF it would only be about body size or your weight. But as you said, it’s pretty hard to tell a person´s health by their body healths alone. Another opinion of yours I have very similar is when you told body positive movement is fully ok as long as being unhealthy or obesity is not something to be celebrated. In my opinion, it is somehow pretty annoying and ridiculous how far some medias have gone about promoting the hype about body positivity here in Finland. Sometimes it even leads to false accuses and insults against celebrities and other people with high shaped bodies and its so ridiculous to think me or anyone else should “be ashame” cause I have done hard work over +15 years to get more muscular body and to be something that I (not all but me) consider as optimal. Maybe it’s only a Finnish phenomenon, hard to say. 

    1. Tired of the media and Cosmopolitan and other vanity publications jumping on the bandwagon and pretending to give a crap…

  2. The problem with fat shaming is the number of innocent people hit by a stereotype who doesn’t fit the label. For example, my own situation where I had a nervous breakdown and my physical health was zapped along with my mental health. When this happened I was placed on new psych meds just before I had to undergo surgery to have a portion of my colon removed. The new meds made healing, a pain in the rump and I was on the shelf for 10 months and gained 130 pounds. Before that, I was very athletic playing baseball, softball, and football most of my life.

    Since then I have lost over 60 pounds but am still what one would call Obese at 314 pounds on my last Dr. Visit. I am working on diet and getting more exercise but its a slow process. I have social anxiety and it doesn’t help that when I am in the grocery store the eyes really are on me in the checkout. People judge you and don’t know a thing about you. Some even say I need to be ashamed of my looks to my face. It’s a hurtful ignorant culture we live in when people feel free to do things like that to other humans.

    Thanks for being sensitive to those stuck in the middle.

  3. This is an excellent article that I’m going to share on social media in a second.  I just wanted to say bravo!  I really dislike these movements for a different reason, not just promoting obesity.  I’ll explain.

    I read books.  I love books, particularly romance.  I have no body image insecurities, I accept I’m ‘curvy’ and even if I lose enough weight to be ‘thin’ I would be unhealthy.  I’m not fat.  I’m not thin.  But I love my body and it’s healthy.  I read about all types of ‘heroines’ in my books and I love both tiny women and the curvy women, tall and short.

    I really, really dislike the BBW (big beautiful women) being in my books as a marketing ploy, because inevitably, they’re shaming ‘thin’ people in them!  The hero has to put down thin women in some fashion as being ‘twiggy’ or ‘bony’ or something, and how he prefers big curves.  He can’t just say, he prefers curves?  The heroine will be all like “I can’t be a skinny minny” or have a ton of body issues where she compares herself to skinny people all the time until the man comes along and ‘accepts’ her by putting down ANOTHER type of body? Like what the ever-loving heck?  No WAY would a book be acceptable if they ‘fat-shamed’ someone with the hero saying “I love skinny women, those chubby girls are too big and don’t look good.”  Really?

    I don’t want people to be focusing on body image in my books at all.  At least when the heroines are ‘normal-sized’ they aren’t going around bashing other people’s size! 

    I’m bloody sick of it.  It should be MORE than appearances.  Appearances are fleeting.  Someone can be cute while being ‘curvy’.  Someone can be ugly while being thin.  I don’t even care.  I don’t want this nonsense in my fiction, dang it! 

    It would be nice to read a book with a curvy heroine that ISN’T obsessed about size.  I am curvy and I don’t care about size of anyone, myself included.  Unless morbidly obese, it never crosses my mind at all!  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Size does not matter.  But we keep MAKING it matter by promoting whatever size, as if promoting it should make it more acceptable.  Why not have a society that does not CARE about the size of a person at all?  That’s what I want.  

    Thanks again for this post!  Excellent one!

  4. To me the movement isn’t bad at all, loving your body is just an aspect of self-love. I am not obese and I don’t hope to be but we cannot let ourselves be happy with a type of sickness even if it doesn’t show all to often. I have lost a friends to some sickness that came with obesity. It is not right. I understand the issue with that model and must say her act is a shameful one. Nice post however. Very well written.

  5. I just love the body positivity movement.Kudos to the organizers of the movement. It is disheartening to imaging that some r’righteous ‘ individuals one day just decided what the ideal body is and what the bad body is. How sickening!

    But I am glad that many people are becoming more aware of their body types and appreciating themselves.  BY appreciating their bodies they have also appreciated their health and have put effort to stay healthy, and doing what they can to do just that. The confidence we have with our own bodies is will attract respect from others.

    Thank you for this great history on the movements and how far we have come as the world. Thank you also for the reminder that we should keep healthy as much as we can. 

  6. Alright. This an interesting article mate. Honestly am glad that you came out and talked about the hypocrites pushing people to their death in relation to obesity. Like you said in the first wave Lew made it personal because of his wife. Am also not saying that there should be discrimination for fat people but honestly speaking who wants to be obese because of freedom.
    sometimes, I think these fat models are comfortable with their weight because of finances and all the reasons they have but they aren’t happy and if they are, then they must be ignorant about how well they’d feel if they reduced their weight.
    I have ever been fat before and my granny used to praise me when i reached home because she felt i wasn’t starving due to financial problems back at home. i was happy to see her happy and so i remained in my uncomfortable fat zone for her. Until one day I decided it was time to put on those sexy jeans and be myself. i reduced; Best decision I have ever made.
    Thanks mate, am glad you posted this.

  7. I am 1000% with you on this claim that being obese and unhealthily fat should not be celebrated under the body acceptance movement or whatever. That’s pure craziness. How on earth would you celebrate something that is detrimenting your health and making you more prone to sudden death.  Body positivity is a nice movement and people should be lived and adored for who they are irrespective of their size. But what I am against is that you should be contempter with being g obese or maintaining a size of fat that is dangerous to health. Thanks

    1. Unfortunately, these people have deep emotional and psychological issues…rather than fix themselves, they want other people to accomodate them

  8. This is indeed an amazing topic an I must say I’m happy such post are being put up. Being fat isn’t a bad thing at all and no one should see his size and stature as superior to a that of any. But we all should rather focus on being healthy. Thanks for sharing such wonderful post. I’ll inform more people about this wonderful topic 

  9. Practicing body positivity versus fat shaming is a touchy subject for sure, quite controversial, and you have delved into it with a lot of thought and defended your positions with sound reasoning. I have to say that the body positivity movement is doing a disservice in many cases where health issues come into play.

    Also, in many parts of the world where weight problems are not as prevalent as they are in Western countries means that there is no need for such a movement. I have lived in many parts of Asia and they simply do not have as many overweight people, men or women.

    It is a fact that people that are overweight can have more health issues that directly arise from carrying around those extra pounds, and loving your body has nothing to do with that. It is also something that many people use to hide the fact that they would be happier is they were able to lose at least some of the extra weight. I say call it like it is, just as you do.

  10. This is really cool. I’ve struggled with my weight for years now and that can really take a toll on your mental health. It makes you become insecure about yourself so you overthink doing normal activities because you worried about what someone is thinking of you, And thats been my problem for years but I am slowly progressing my body and my mind out of those negative habits and trying to create more productive ones. I am glad that I came across your post for me to know that  am not alone and we all can make the change if we are committed to the process of bettering ourselves. Great article, definitely going to share this on my Facebook page, 

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