Is Body-Positivity Ruining Your Life?

Ideas.Time.com recently published a piece called “Fit Pride isn’t ‘Hate Speech.’” I would like to begin by stating that taking pride in your body is never hateful, and can only improve your experience in the world. Where the problem comes in is when you start associating taking pride in yourself by putting others down.

Maria Kang wrote the article in question, and posted the photo that sparked controversy alongside the text. Below, you will see the photo.

ugh

From her Time.com article,

“Have we really created a society so sensitive and weak that we cry “hate speech” whenever someone points out the fine line we’re walking as a nation by promoting a healthy body image above actual health? Has the growing movement promoting “fat acceptance” and even “fat pride” gone so far that now we need a countervailing movement promoting “fit pride”? We may just.”

Society has finally, just hardly, begun to take back the idea that a body belongs to the person living within it, rather than the outside world around it. Additionally, we have just reached the tip of the iceberg in addressing how truly objectified we have encouraged one another, and ourselves, to become. We create hate between ourselves by not only finding things to hate about ourselves, but in others. For instance, the “fashion police,” in the back of every gossip/even some fashion magazine(s), discussing why a certain someone shouldn’t wear a certain something. Another example would be a traditionally attractive, fit woman calling an entire group of oppressed individuals “so sensitive and weak” over revolting against the idea that they should be shamed by that very woman’s personal standards of health and beauty. Yes, Maria Kang is fit, and she is beautiful, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that- but that isn’t the point here. You know better than that, right? Dear reader, I have faith that you understand that feeling good about your body doesn’t mean condemning another’s. I trust that you are wise enough to come to that conclusion on your own.

Kang seems to argue that we shouldn’t be so worried about a healthy body image so much as we should be worried about “actual health.” I would like to point out to Maria Kang that mental health is an actuality. So much so, that more than 24 million American people- of all ages- suffer from an eating disorder. As it turns out, mental health is actual health. Additionally, weight =/= health, as you may be able to infer from the statistics above.

THE MORE YOU KNOW

The concept of battling an overall positive movement by promoting “fit pride” is ignorant at best. When you reassert your state of privilege over an oppressed group, you are not creating a stronger case for your own cause, you’re just being a bully. Your cause has the upper hand, and it is not your place to smack the oppressed back down- it’s an opportunity, if you would like, as our friends and neighbors, to give us a hand up. If that’s too much to ask, then just don’t get involved. This isn’t about winning, or who’s better than who, it’s about us all being human beings deserving of respect. A photo asking “what’s your excuse?” is not “playful,” it is certainly not respectful- it’s condescending. What you have created is a fine example of something called “thin privilege,” wherein a person who fits society’s standards for weight cannot understand how harmful something might be to those who do not fit such a mold. It’s not your fault, but it’s something you need to make yourself aware of.

Another blurb from Kang’s piece:

“So, let’s set the record straight. There’s the normal, overweight woman. There’s the photoshopped fake woman — and then there’s an array of real women. I, Maria Kang, am a real woman — and I’ve stood up. It’s not hate speech to be fit and proud.”

Please redact that from the record, whoever writes the all-encompassing rules of womanhood. (Oh, hey, those don’t exist!) There’s the normal, overweight woman. There’s the normal, skinny woman. There’s the normal, paraplegic woman. There’s the normal, green-eyed woman. There’s the normal, extremely muscular woman. There’s the normal, gap-toothed woman, there’s the normal, freckled woman, there’s the normal blonde woman, the normal woman with natural hair, the normal woman with silicone breasts, the normal woman with a fake tan, the normal woman with facial hair, the normal woman who was announced as male at birth, the normal woman who has armpit hair, the normal woman who wears bright red lipstick, the normal woman who is a size 00, and the normal woman who is a size 8, 14, 28. And they are ALL within the array of “REAL” women. (TL;DR: every woman is a real woman- including, but not limited to fit women.)

Maria Kang, please take note: the body positive movement is not about you- not you in particular, anyway. It is not about telling your children they have to eat seventeen doughnuts a day, or that they’re worthless unless they’re fat. We aren’t trying to convert you, or to ruin your “actual health,” we are simply trying to be seen for people rather than pounds. The body-positive movement is not an anti-health movement, it is about improving the way we look at one another. It’s revolutionary and beautiful and based on loving oneself. So is your issue really with the movement, or with the fact that we didn’t allow you to bully us with your photo and its nasty comment?

The fat positive movement-which is more aptly called the body-positive movement, by the way, as it isn’t just about fat people, and even includes super fit people like you, Maria- is not about bringing you down. It is about allowing others, unlike you, to rise and be seen as people, rather than disfigured and evil. Your article paints the same picture we’ve seen, time and time again, of the fat, evil villain, and you’ve got it all quite wrong. You’re right, it’s not hate speech to be fit and proud; it’s hate speech to claim that a group of people you are obviously uncomfortable with are detrimental to society.Do not confuse the pain you feel from our very hard-earned joy with us actually harming you.

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13 thoughts on “Is Body-Positivity Ruining Your Life?

  1. We are such a whiny, cry baby, he said she said, society…..Live and let live.
    Health is the number one key factor…not weight. Unfortunately being very overweight is never healthy…puts too much stress on the body, as does too skinny.
    Do the best you can.
    Live your life with love and kindness.
    Eat real food, walk, sleep,drink lots of water….SMILE, be happy and just live…..life is too short to whine.
    If you don’t like something about yourself, change it….if you don’t like something about someone else, too bad.

    • And right there we have another version of the problem. You spout off something that you presume to be truth: “Unfortunately being very overweight is never healthy…puts too much stress on the body, as does too skinny.” If it’s not your body, and you’re not its doctor, you don’t get to determine what is healthy for anyone but yourself.

      • So, what you’re saying is, for example, that if you weight 250 or 300 lbs, there’s a chance that your enjoying perfect health? Really?

      • Yes, actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I know many fat and healthy individuals. Dancers, fitness trainers, non-athletic but active folks – people of all kinds. I’m also saying that weight is not the same as health and shouldn’t be used as a proxy for health. Fat can be healthy, and fat can be fit, just the same as thin. Not all thin people are healthy, and assuming that weight = health can lead to some dangerous medical assumptions that are not based in lab results.

  2. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves and our bodies, and while doing so be kind and respectful of others as well.
    I really hate the “I am better than you/ Curvy vs Thin” messages, I think it’s just another way of turning women against each other. We need to find a way of elevating one another instead of tearing each other down.

    Zadry

  3. Yes, I am the owner of Curvy Girl Lingerie and was sort of brought into this us vs. them thing without any warning. As I kept saying over and over in the media interviews – there is enough space in the world for ALL body types. I believe all women are REAL and all women are BEAUTIFUL. I believe all women deserve to feel sexy and beautiful. I think it’s awesome Maria found her passion. So did I. But, that does not mean our missions and passion can’t exist together. Thanks for this piece. I enjoyed your point of view Zadry. Sincerely, Chrystal Bougn

  4. The Body Positive Movement is meant to increase support of body love and body acceptance with the goal of ending size division and body shaming. The Body Positive Movement is meant to enrich, empower, encourage and enlighten every person to expand the possibilities and explore the avenues to which they can be inspired to elevate, celebrate and appreciate themselves. The Body Positive Movement is meant to foster the development of positive self-image, self-concept, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love within every person. The Body Positive Movement is about admiring the beautiful woman or handsome man in the mirror.

    Beauty is a matter of fact, not opinion! No one deserves to be shamed, bullied, harassed or disrespected. What is desirable and attractive to one person is not to the next person. Some men like fit women, others like full figured women. Some women like athletic men, others like big sexy men. It is a matter of preference and taste. Every person has the right to have standards for themselves and choose how to live their lives. Every person has a God-given right of ownership concerning their bodies. Every person has a God-given freedom of choice (free-will) of how to care for their bodies. Respect every person’s choice about how to live their life as you want them to respect yours. No one has the right to impose their belief system or lifestyle on anyone else.

    The plus size community does not have to hate ourselves because we are not fit. We do not have to desire to be fit to be respected. We have every right to love who we see in the mirror and celebrate everything about who we are, including our overweight bodies. There are so many incredible things that our bodies allow us to do and experience, no matter what size they are, none is greater than living life itself! Judgment about our quality of life and assumptions about our health are not yours to make! Being fit does not entitle you to tear down someone who is overweight. Being fit does not entitle you to be condescending to someone who is overweight. What you perceive when you look at someone else is a reflection of your character. The fact that you have “thin” women calling other women “anorexic” if they are “too thin” and you have “fat” women calling other women “thick” if they are not “fat enough” are patterns of behavior that reinforce size division. The Body Positive Movement is about exposing the truth, beauty is intrinsic and shines outward.

    The Body Positive Movement is going to continue to help people learn to love themselves and empower one another because actual health is not about “Fit” vs. “Curvy”. There are “fit” people who unhealthy. There are “curvy” people who are in pristine health. Being Body Positive is about knowing that what someone’s body looks like is not an accurate assessor of the content of their character or indicator of their actual health. The truth is that people are struggling with distorted body images because of their preconceived ideas of what beauty is. The truth is that most people who are battling eating disorders, from anorexia to binge eating, desire to be beautiful not healthy. The truth is that people need encouragement and support to live healthier, more active lives, not tough love.

    I encourage EVERY person, no matter what your pants size is, to take care of their actual health. Get regular well-check examinations. Ask your primary care physician for educational materials on how to develop a healthy relationship with food. Ask your primary care physician about ways that you can live a more active life. Remember to share actual health information that is truthful and helpful with others. Inspire and empower others to end size division, body shaming and actual health ignorance!

    Be F.A.T.T. (Fabulous All The Time)! LOVE your body! ROCK your sexy! FLAUNT your confidence!

  5. fatties! haha trying to make yourself feel better about you enormous hips? or that you having trouble wipe your own ass?! disgusting!

  6. So you’re coining over-weight people as “oppressed”?! Now I’ve heard everything. African Americans and Native Americans due to obvious reasons were considered oppressed. Currently, the Dalit people of India are considered oppressed. The medical journals and research studies aren’t fabrications. Someone who is overweight is more prone to having a heart attack, being diagnosed with diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea, and even certain cancers. I don’t understand how anyone would be okay with staying overweight and claiming “I’m happy the way I am” because staying like that would imply that you’re okay with getting sick or dying at an earlier age.
    Having a healthy body image is one where a person would admit they have a weight problem and decide to change their habits to improve their health. Starving yourself or doing excessive exercising aren’t healthy. Being conscious of your weight and doing something about it is having a positive body image. If you’re calling yourself oppressed, well that shows that you’re really not happy with yourself. It’s time to admit that the choices you’ve made in your life have led you to your own prison. Stop making excuses and hating on others who reflect a healthy lifestyle!!

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