A few nights ago I was scrolling through my Instagram when I saw a video post from one of my favorite women to follow, Pia Schiavo, also known as the blogging mind behind Chronicles of a Mixed Fat Chick. I clicked on the video to see an enraged Pia voicing her frustrations about the antiquated nature of BMI as a system of health measurement, which she is absolutely right about. I browsed her hashtags and noticed one that i didn’t recognize, #HAES, so I gave it a click and browsed the pictures.
As I scrolled down, I was absolutely appalled at what I saw. There were these awful, hateful pictures about fat being disgusting with comments shamefully saying that there’s no way an individual can be healthy without being skinny; fat shaming galore. One page in particular, called FatRejection, focused on informing women that they need to stop thinking they are sexy at any size they considered fat. The page targets women who try to embody body positivity and points out that the only thing they are promoting is the road to heart disease. I eventually figured out that the hashtag stood for healthy at every size, and had essentially been hijacked by fat shamers to promote fat shaming.
Let me start by saying this… fat shaming is a very real, very dangerous, and very rampant thing. We fat shame in our everyday lives without realizing it because we are socialized to fat shame, it is a practice engrained in us. Everyone fat shames differently and most of the time people don’t even realize they are fat shaming, it seems to be a damn near subconscious thing. But then there are people like those who run the Fat Rejection Instagram page. People who purposefully and maliciously go out of their way to make people feel bad about their size. They cut people down and think that by making someone feel like less than they are it will “inspire” them to be “better”. These are the types of people who can’t be tolerated, just as anyone who shames someone for being skinny cannot be tolerated. It is for this exact reason that body positivity exists.
Body positivity is in no way shape or form about putting down skinny people and uplifting larger ones. The name itself specifies that it is BODY positivity, and while it may often times be championed by larger people, it’s purpose is to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for ALL BODY TYPES. Anyone who claims to be a body positive advocate will essentially never put down any person’s body type, no matter what type of body it is. Body positivity is a segway into changing views and ideals in society. It does not aim to uplift any one body over another, it aims to show us that no two bodies are alike, no one body is better than the other and that people should never be made to feel guilty about their body. All this talk of obesity kills is in its own right valid, however obesity is measured by Body Mass Index, which as we are slowly learning is really not a way to measure a person’s health. An individual’s pants size does not determine their health situation. A little bit of back fat does not indicate that you are suffering from massive plaque build up on your heart. In the same token, being a size 2 does not mean you are anorexic or have an eating disorder, nor does it mean that you don’t have cholesterol issues.
The point of body positivity is to encourage people to understand that everyone is built differently, and while we have the ability to manage our weight, it doesn’t man the ideal weight for my body is the same for your body. In addition to that, you don’t know what my “ideal” weight is. No one should make an assumption about another person’s health or well-being based on the nature of their appearance. Adele said it best, “I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life, which it doesn’t.” Body positivity does not promote unhealthy practices in any way, it encourages you to live a healthy lifestyle, but included in that lifestyle is an avoidance of obsession with your body. You should pay attention to, take care of, and listen to your body, but you should not spend your life obsessing over the fact that other people do not find it appealing. Body positivity is about living your life and not being afraid to do things for fear of you own body. The body positivity community does not shame anyone for engaging in clean eating or healthy practices, nor does it shame anyone for eating a donut or a slice of pizza. It encourages any non-harmful practice that brings you joy.
People who claim to fat shame because they care about the state of health of an individual or a group of people do not understand what caring is. When someone cares they don’t tear another person down in hopes that it will make them change their ways. I’ve seen size 20 girls who can dance, run, and do yoga with the absolute best of them. They aren’t unhealthy, they are active and living their lives, doing any activity they please, and not allowing themselves to be limited by the notion that an activity is for skinny people.
Fat shaming is a very dangerous thing, thin shaming is a very dangerous thing, and body shaming is a perilous thing; but body positivity? Body Positivity is a new era in the realm of self perception and societal perception. People hurt themselves every day over body concerns. There are 10 year olds on crash diets and 15 year olds getting body injections. If for nothing else, body positivity is for the sake of the youth. When you educate this generation on acceptance you create an atmosphere where it is already a norm for the next generation. I’m all about body positivity because I recognize how body negativity destroyed some of my childhood and anything that can be done to salvage childhood, should be done.
Stop telling yourself or others that they can not do something, can not wear something, or can not feel something because of their body. You are the keeper of your own body, celebrate yours, and celebrate others but do not take the energy or time to shame anyone or acknowledge anyone who shames others. Body positivity is a real movement, get on the bus and experience how amazing it feels to love yourself and others.