Is body positivity glorifying obesity?
July 20, 2021

When I asked myself, “Is body positivity glorifying obesity?” I was surprised by the knee jerk answer. My brain immediately said “of course it is” but when I challenged myself to back that initial judgement up, I fell short of coming up with any justification. So, wanting to know what others’ opinions were, I went to Google to see what the answer to the question “is body positivity glorifying obesity?”.  Whoa, that is a hot topic, a hot potato if you will. People have very specific and passionately defended opinions on the subject. Google it yourself when you are finished with this post and see what both sides are saying.

Challenge your own perceptions

Taking the time to really think about this question I realised that I had been lumping body positivity and fat acceptance into one big ball but they are inherently different and, in my opinion, neither is glorifying obesity. Now that isn’t to say that nobody in the body positivity movement is glorifying obesity, because there are. Never saying out loud that being obese is ok but certainly insinuating it.

Fat acceptance is saying “we are here and we need to be accommodated with the availability of bigger clothes , bigger toilet stalls etc. Fat acceptance is another hot potato that I will address separately. I do think that fat acceptance goes too close to the line of encouragement. If it doesn’t cause discomfort then why change it.  But that is for another day.

Love the one you have

Body positivity is about loving the skin you’re in. Ewww what a cliché but it’s a true one. No matter what size or shape it is, no matter how much it sags or wobbles, we can learn to love it. We should learn to love it especially if weight loss is an important goal. Ironically, the more you love the fat version of yourself, the easier it is to lose weight. Weight loss goes from being a “war with your body you must win” to “nourishing my precious body with food that will make me healthy”.  

In other words, it is telling yourself that you deserve those gorgeous Lulu Lemon yoga pants regardless of your body shape. Your size shouldn’t dictate how well you treat yourself. We need to move away from the idealised version of what is “acceptable” and what beauty standards are today. Especially since we know that many of the photos and even videos we see in magazines and on social media are heavily edited. How can that be a body goal when that body doesn’t exist?

The power of body positivity

I believe in the power of body positivity and I talk about it often during coaching sessions. Women in my program have gone from hating themselves to looking in the mirror and saying “I love you!” and meaning it. Body positivity changes the way you see yourself by reminding you that your body does amazing things every day just to keep you alive. Things that you don’t even know about! Being grateful for your incredible, strong body is the first step to self love.

Is body positivity glorifying obesity?

No, not in my opinion. This movement is not saying that obesity is a goal. Nor does it mean that obesity is healthy and is ok. What body positivity does is give permission to everyone to love the body they are in obese or not. Changing the narrative from “this is the kind of body you need to have before it deserves love” to “Love the body you have because it deserves love unconditionally”. This shift is powerful because it gives everyone permission to love themselves inside and out with zero conditions attached. 

Having being morbidly obese myself I feel qualified to weigh in (sorry) on this. I am an adamant cheerleader for body positivity but you won’t ever hear me say that obesity is healthy. It’s simply not. Health at any size is a movement that leaves me uneasy because I know the mechanisms at work that lead to excess body fat. Yes you can be perfectly healthy and overweight but there is a limit to how long that will last, what your body can take and when you reach that limit it can quickly and dramatically change.

Obesity isn’t something to be celebrated

Cosmopolitan magazine ran this series of cover photos featuring overweight models with the slogan “this is healthy”. There was a massive debate over it and I found myself agreeing with the “no it’s not” camp. Or at least, it’s not going to be like that forever. We can normalise body positivity at any size whilst also supporting the message that excess fat is, or at least eventually is, unhealthy. Both of these messages encourage positive changes in lifestyle and rely on a positive mindset rather than a toxic, self hate driven one.

What do you think? Email me and tell me. I would love to hear from you. There is a “Contact Me” page here.

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