The Chief Homemaking Officer

More Than "Just" a Housewife

Finally, a post about something other than infertility!!! Woohoo!!! So, the body positivity movement has been something that so many have been talking about for years now and I have really wanted to give my two cents on all of it. I am currently working through another weight loss journey and figured now would be a great time to discuss it.

What is the Body Positivity Movement?

With a simple Google search, you could find all kinds of different definitions and explanations for this movement. But for many, the overarching goal of the movement is to encourage inclusivity and diversity of body shapes, sizes, abilities, and colors in media.

According to Wikipedia, the body positive movement is, “A social movement focused on empowering overweight individuals, while also challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance”.

At first glance, this sounds like a such a great movement. How could anyone be against this? Well, we will dive into that a little bit more below.

The Good

Regardless of the original intentions of the body positivity movement, it has encouraged more inclusivity and diversity in the representation of women’s bodies in media. There are models of all different shapes, sizes and colors represented. There are models in wheelchairs, amputees, etc. all being represented. Barbie dolls now come in different body shapes and skin tones. There are little girls everywhere who are able to see themselves represented in shows and movies and it really is wonderful.

Clothing companies are starting to extend their sizing and make clothes for sizes large and small as well as petite and tall. It is a breath of fresh air as an adult to be able to not only see someone built like me in a magazine, but also be able to easily find clothes in my size that is “on trend” too.

Moving on From Harmful Trends

I am a millennial. I’m sure other women of my generation can remember what was popular when we were growing up. The women of the time were pressed to be so skinny that if their collar bones, rib cages, or hips didn’t jut out they were obese. And everyone ended up trying so hard to look the same and meet this standard. So many celebrities have come out now to discuss how they struggled with body image issues.

I can imagine how the average teen girl felt as well. I was a lost cause being 6 ft tall and naturally just very large compared to the average woman.

But, I was in dance for a while and then moved to play sports. I had to wear boys clothes for several years because I couldn’t find jeans long enough for me. So, to see that clothing lines are offering more choices and including different shapes and sizes in their campaigns means a lot to me. My husband is taller than me and we will likely have taller than average children with larger frames. So, it is nice to know that our children will not have the same struggles we did when we were younger. They may even have a role model or two who look a little more like them than what we had growing up.

The Bad

It is so great that there is more diversity and inclusion in pop culture when it comes to body shape, size and color. But with everything good, there seems to be a bad side to it. From my own observations as well as many others, the body positivity movement has given people the opportunity to glorify unhealthy lifestyles. Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, anorexia was glorified. The internet was full of “Pro-Ana” discussion boards and websites. Women were encouraged to starve themselves or binge and purge in order to reach a very unattainable goal in order to fit in. There is a series someone created on Tik Tok about the celebrities who were called fat in that time who were nowhere near fat. This created an entire generation of women having body image issues.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Today, with the body positivity movement, there seems to be some kind of overcompensation happening because women are now being shamed for being too skinny! Obese bodies are being glorified and accepted as this virtue that women are legitimately trying to attain. If a woman wants to lose weight, she is somehow targeted and shamed for it. The people calling others out say that they are being shamed because OTHER people want to lose weight. For example, I have discussed my weight loss journey on social media. Somehow my choices to lose weight is shaming other women who aren’t working towards losing weight. Heaven forbid you say that you are losing weight to get healthier too. There is an entire section of society who believes that weight nor body fat percentage affect health.

The Pro-Anorexia Days

Years ago, when the Pro-Ana discussions were more mainstream, there were people condemning others who encouraged that dangerous lifestyle. There wasn’t a whole lot of push back towards the people making the condemnations. This is because it was widely accepted that Anorexia and other eating disorders are mental health disorders and are extremely dangerous.

Now, when someone comments that the glorification of obesity is dangerous and unhealthy, they are demonized. There are professionals in the mental health and medical fields who are even coming out AGAINST people concerned about others encouraging these unhealthy habits.  Again, it seems like entire sections of society are overcompensating from past trends. They want to encourage people to be comfortable in their own bodies. That is a GOOD thing…to an extent.

Just like how Anorexia is dangerous, so is morbid obesity. We have seen most recently how those who are obese are more likely to have severe symptoms from COVID. Extra weight on bodies not built to support it will cause orthopedic disorders. Extra fat can create increased inflammation and can increase risks of some cancers and other chronic disorders. Those who are obese and claim to be in peak health have the advantage of youth on their side. Eventually, that extra weight will affect their health. When it happens, it will hit hard too.

There are so many who scream to trust the science when it comes to the pandemic. But they do not trust the science when it comes to health and the human body (for many different situations). There are constant debates of what the ideal diet is for people. But the consensus right now is that being overweight (especially morbidly obese) is unhealthy.

Diagnostics Still in Debate

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

There is a debate going on on what is the best way to measure body fat. I am in the camp who HATES the BMI algorithm clinics use. They simply use your height and weight to find the number and do not consider actual body composition. The RFM is my friend. It actually uses a waist measurement to determine body fat percentage more accurately. But, to the best of my knowledge, the only way to get a completely accurate percentage is through a water displacement test.

But, while there are debates in the best way to measure body fat, it can be safe to say that each person knows whether they are carrying an extra 50+ lbs. or not. Unless a woman is a top athlete with almost no body fat, they should not weigh 250 lbs. at only 5 ft tall. Even then, someone only 5 ft tall probably shouldn’t weigh that much. It really isn’t that difficult to understand.

The Ugly

The bad and the ugly seem to go hand in hand in my opinion. So, it is hard for me to differentiate between the two. The bad can very easily become ugly and we are seeing it all the time in the media and online.

There are countless stories of people who are obese and are demanding preferential treatment because they are overweight. They are demanding their employers cover extra insurance costs, make accommodations, etc. all because they are overweight. A vast majority of the time, they are overweight by choice. There are so few in society who are overweight solely because of a chronic condition and they have zero ability to fight it.

Entire campaigns on social media have been created to “cancel” anyone who dissents from the idea that fat is beautiful. Doctors have had their credibility taken away if they dare to say that losing weight is necessary to remain healthy.

People Still Aren’t Happy

There are also campaigns out there from overweight people who are unhappy STILL that there isn’t enough diversity in shapes and sizes. Some won’t be happy it seems until entire casts of movies and TV shows are all obese.

This movement gets especially ugly when you see that there are people who will just never be happy no matter how much progress has happened. The singer, Lizzo, has come out and discussed frustration that big girls still aren’t getting enough out of the movement. In the article here, you see that she is also upset that not enough queer or black stories are being shared. The issue is that in reality the of it all, LGBT and “minority” stories are over-represented when looking at the actual population of the US. But, because they are not always the headliners or always in the spotlight, it isn’t good enough.

Did the movement get co-opted to include other people rather than just the overweight? Sure; but body positivity SHOULD be about more than just weight. Why would someone NOT want to have people of all shapes, sizes, heights, and abilities shown in media? Honestly, anyone who is upset that others are included in this particular movement are just showing that they want everything to be about them at all times. I can’t be persuaded to believe otherwise.

What Can be Done?

This movement can be put on back on the rails. I very much believe that it is important to have media out there that represents all different kinds of bodies. Representation does matter. HOWEVER, representation does not equal acceptance. By acceptance, I mean that doctors and mental health professionals, or anyone for that matter should not be forced to believe and share false information saying that unhealthy lifestyles are healthy.

People should be acknowledged and treated with respect regardless of their looks or abilities. But that does not mean that they are immune from well meaning people offering assistance to help them become healthier.

Quit Being Lazy

One of the most ironic things about this body positivity movement is that while there are entire campaigns at all levels of media talking about how wonderful being fat is, there are trends constantly popping up with the newest fad diet. Influencers and celebrities are constantly pushing the newest pill or detox tea that will help people lose weight with “no effort”. So, clearly so many people out there still do want to be skinny for whatever reason. There is a desire out there to lose weight and at least try to have a healthy lifestyle.

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

Instead of being lazy and throwing money at fads that don’t work, people need to learn what it means to be healthy. Influencers and celebrities need to stop being lazy by selling these products too. They need to be able to do research or connect with actual experts that will encourage to do what it takes to live as healthy as possible. That means, teaching others about healthy diets and encouraging people to move more.

Stop Being Hateful

Regardless of where people stand on this topic, there are always hateful comments. There are people who search for someone overweight and are comfortable in their skin and all that hateful person wants to do is tear them down. Then, there are hateful obese people who are angry that someone who is not overweight is talking about the movement and saying they are a part of body positivity because they are tall or petite or handicapped, etc.

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

Not Everything is an Attack

When a celebrity or even an average person shares their weight loss journey on social media, that is not an attack on those who are obese. Their journey and experiences do not diminish anyone else’s. Just because a person is talking about getting healthier, they are not also trying to shame someone who isn’t putting the work in. Men and women have different experiences as well. Often times men are able to lose weight more easily compared to women. They don’t have to worry about cyclical hormonal changes like many women do. Just because a man’s experience is different doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated. It also doesn’t diminish the work a woman would be putting in as well.  

Conclusion

Regardless of what was the original purpose of the body positivity movement, I believe a lot of good has come from it. More people are starting to become more comfortable in their own bodies and appreciate what their bodies are capable of doing.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Some have taken the movement and make a mockery of it by gatekeeping and encouraging bad habits. This is where people need to come up with their own opinions on the issue. There is a lot of nuance here that is lost on many people. If a person wants to live an unhealthy life, that is their choice. If they seek help, they should be encouraged by others to rather than trashed for it. Judgement of any kind should be avoided.

This does not mean you cannot offer well meaning advice, tips, etc. But end the conversation as soon as it becomes heated or toxic and hope they make better choices in the future.

Also, do not hesitate to share your story and experiences. If you are proud of your accomplishments and want to share, do so. If someone makes toxic comments, ignore them and block them if necessary. Your choices, achievements, etc. will never take away from anyone else’s. They shouldn’t have the power to take it away from you either.

TL;DR

People can be healthy and be all kinds of different shapes and sizes.

Big Boned =/= 50 in waist

Body positivity includes different shades, sizes, heights, abilities, etc. PERIOD!

Eat right, move your body

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