Do you by any chance remember the Dove body positivity campaign (if not just have a look at the pic above)? It presented a bunch of women of different skin colors and sizes, posing together in their underwear, laughing. Some of them were very thin, others average and some more curvy. This commercial to me was the essence of what body positivity really is about – accepting oneself and cherishing one’s beauty. Nevertheless, does loving oneself mean we have a permission to make unhealthy life choices?
It’s a fact that media promote being thin rather than healthy. Quick fix diets and fat burning supplements are not trying to improve your general well-being but make you look like Carrie from “Sex and the City”. Losing weight should be a by-product of someone’s attempts to get healthy and not a goal on its own. It’s also relatively easy to just lose weight, the problem is to keep it at the same level. This is a reason why those who try to have quick results often end up not only coming back to their old weight but even picking up some additional kilos. I don’t believe in all these diets that get rid entirely of one type of a product. I don’t question their effectiveness in weight loss but rather their health benefits and the realism for long term use. I think that the only sustainable way to be healthy and therefore upkeep a healthy body weight is to eat everything in moderation and never to forget to exercise a few times a week.
Body shaming or any other sort of shaming is a rather horrible thing and I don’t think anyone should be subjected to it. However, we shouldn’t forget that it applies to everyone, not only to curvy women. There’s nothing wrong with being realistic about one’s looks and health and wanting to change them, especially if one’s weight starts to cause health problems. This is precisely why I get a annoyed with what I find to be “aggressive body positivity”. Often when you implement lifestyle changes, people around you who don’t get upset with you. When I started to cut down on sugar, a default answer at work to coworkers offering sweets became a “no”. People obviously link it to watching your weight and if someone commented on that I never felt like giving a speech on the unhealthiness of refined sugars. “One cookie won’t kill you!” and other encouragements were often shared, making it difficult to say “no”. Sure, one cookie won’t kill me but I’d rather have a treat at home that I really like and having both isn’t an option. I also don’t feel like having a discussion I do something differently. If you tell someone about the positive changes you implement when the don’t they often attack it with some sort of self-assuring comments (“I, for one, think a real woman should have curves”). I do get sheepish around people who don’t follow a healthy lifestyle as if my own was offending them. The choices are make are about me and are not necessarily reflection on others. Besides, isn’t body positivity also about giving the right for everyone to be happy about the way they look? Even if it means they cut down on a cookie or two and follow an exercise regime? It’s really not all about the weight but also about being healthier and just feeling better… Body positivity doesn’t mean loving the fact that someone let themselves go but but self-acceptance even if they did. What is more, acceptance should encourage us to and not prevent us from making good lifestyle choices.
My point is, it’s okay to be plus-size but it’s also okay to be minus-size. We should love ourselves regardless but exercise and a healthy diet are worth praise. Binge eating and other eating problems are mental disorders and they should be treated. Self-hate wont help in stopping the self-indulgence which is why any shaming is counterproductive (plus who are you to judge, anyway?). However, being loving and understanding doesn’t mean accepting something unhealthy is good and both lack of exercise and indulgent diet should be recognised as problems to deal with.
What do you think, Rinsers? Can body positivity sometimes have negative results? Can loving oneself ever be in opposition to taking care of oneself?