Why the “Body Positivity” movement might not be for you

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I’ve got a little beef with the way the body positive idea has been moving lately. The premise of the movement is definitely one I can agree with; your body is a gift. It helps you do all the things you need to do to survive and it helps you live out your wildest dreams. It’s the console for your soul, the deepest thoughts, traits and emotions that make up your very essence. That is something that should be respected, regardless of how it looks or measures up to society’s ideals. However, this is not an excuse to become complacent in your poor health, bad habits, and less appealing personality/behavior flaws. You see, the body positive movement seems to portray a message of, a) being content with where you are (physically/aesthetically), b) all bodies are beautiful, c) health comes in all shapes and sizes. These are all true to an extent, but not quite to the extent they’re being taken to.

Before you grab a pitchfork and accuse me of fat shaming (don’t even get me started on the whole “shaming” thing), let me assert that I do not hate those who are overweight, think they are disgusting slobs, or feel that they are lazy. On the contrary, I think those who may have let themselves go a little have often done so due to much more important priorities. I can respect that. Things happen, and there’s plenty of excuses for letting your health slip to the wayside. But that doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. This brings me to point A of the BPM (body positive movement): Being content where you are. If you are truly happy being overweight, go for it. Live your life. But don’t proclaim it to be a healthy lifestyle. Acknowledge the health risks that come with the lifestyle and own up to it. Realize that although this floats your boat, you are still at a higher risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis, etc. If you are not happy being overweight/obese or are not willing to accept the accompanying health risks, the worst thing you can be is content with where you are! Nothing changes from staying in your comfort zone. Love and appreciate your body for the vessel it is and treat it like you respect it. Rather than focusing on being confident with where you are, be confident with where you are going. It’s all about the direction you’re headed. This is not to say that you should hate yourself, talk down to yourself, or “beat” your body into submission. Don’t swing the pendulum that far, that’s not what I’m saying. Again, respect your body and treat it like you would a loved one.

Point B. All bodies are beautiful. One, it annoys me that the aesthetic condition of one’s body is even part of accepting who you are as a person. A beautiful soul should be the priority, not the body. Two, this is touchy, I know, but let’s not pretend that all bodies are beautiful all the time. Example of my thinking: I am pregnant. I am pale, dis-proportioned, and chunky. It’s not cute, pretty, or beautiful…but it’s ok! I’m not unwilling to acknowledge that this is not an attractive phase of my life. Our bodies may not be beautiful all the time, but they all have the potential to be. Additionally, and most importantly, I believe a lot of beauty comes from the inside out. Often times, unfortunate as it is, those who feel insecure, hate themselves, are negative or cruel to others, or are otherwise not taking adequate care of themselves reflect this inner ugliness on the outside. However, confidence, health and positivity carries with it a glow that can enhance beauty, regardless of what you might weigh. Though the cellulite, rolls, pale skin, and extra jiggle may not be aesthetically appealing, a beautiful and truly healthy (physically and emotionally) inside will make you a wholesome, attractive influence. Again, focus on the inside. A body may not be beautiful, and it doesn’t have to be.

Point C (if you’re not so offended beyond belief yet): health comes in all shapes and sizes. False. Health may not display itself in one specific shape or size, but that doesn’t mean your shape or size is necessarily healthy. Be honest with yourself. If your body fat percentage, BMI, body circumference measurements, or weight are too high or low for your age and height, then you are not healthy. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, trouble getting up and down stairs, constant low energy levels, and lack of balance in your life, you are not healthy. The point is, don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you’re thin you’re in good shape and don’t write off being overweight because you’ve got a clean diet. Recognize where you need to improve. Commit yourself to regular challenging exercise, a balanced, calorically appropriate diet rooted in nutrient-dense whole foods and a lifetime of consistency and honesty in these things. Your body will shape itself as time goes by and will display health in your unique form.

If you are in an unhealthy state, the BPM may tell you what you want to hear, but it may not be the mindset you currently need to adopt. Rather, love your body for the machine it is (not the way it looks) and develop and shape it with love and respect. This probably means making some major changes to your lifestyle; don’t just accept where you are, aim to improve your shortcomings! Be confident in the direction you’re going. Recognize that your soul is beautiful, even if your body might not be at the moment. Side note: Maybe your soul isn’t so pretty right now either. If this is the case, seek the help you need, make improvements, and don’t settle for an ugly inside. Work honestly and consistently until your body does reflect the beauty you have on the inside by shaping into it’s unique and healthy form. Be proud of your progress and every improvement you make, no matter how insignificant it may seem! If you are in a physically healthy state and find yourself becoming perfectionistic, unsatisfied no matter what you do or achieve, or failing to see yourself in a positive light even though your body reflects a healthy lifestyle, then yes. This movement is for you! You might not have the exact shape you want, but you are healthy. You are beautiful (in the physical sense, and hopefully the existential one). ***Above all else, to everyone out there, you have intrinsic worth and you are enough.***

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