There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about the Body Positive Movement. I've been deeply involved in the movement for years now, and I'm here to give you a quick little intro to what the movement does and does not promote as a whole!
1. Body Positivity Is All About Mental Health
Body positivity isn't about glorifying obesity; it's about promoting positive self-image and mental health. To those who oppose the Body Positive Movement by saying that being overweight isn't healthy: neither is hating yourself. Promoting positive self-image has been shown to actually encourage people to take better care of their bodies; conversely, bullying and harassing overweight people has been shown to do the opposite. Body positivity is all about mental health and loving yourself, it has nothing to do with glorifying or promoting one body type over another.
2. 'Fat' and 'Beautiful' Aren't Mutually-Exclusive Adjectives
Right this minute, there are millions of plus size men and women out there looking fabulous. Style isn't size-exclusive; fat babes can rock any style just as well as their thinner counterparts can, and everyone has the right to wear whatever style of clothing makes them feel most lovely. Plus size people aren't obligated to wear the most 'flattering' clothing for their body type, we can rock whatever we'd like to. You don't have to be a size 2 to be beautiful! So, when someone identifies as 'fat' or 'chubby', don't correct them and say something like, "You're not fat, you're beautiful!" because it's entirely possible to be both.
3. You CAN Be Fat and Live A Healthy Lifestyle, But It's Fine to Be Fat and Unhealthy, Too
I weigh three hundred pounds. I work out once a week at the gym and go for daily walks with my dachshunds. It takes 3-4 flights of stairs for me to be winded, I can jog a mile without stopping, and every single blood test I've gotten indicates that I'm in above average health. I eat both healthier and less than everyone I know, and I'm still the fattest of my friends. I live my life consciously in a healthy way. My weight problem stems from a combination of medications that lead to weight gain and a hormone imbalance, not because I'm lazy or an over-eater or because I have a poor diet, which is what people assume when they look at me. I'm living proof that you can live a healthy lifestyle and still be 'morbidly obese'. Body positive activists want you to know that it's possible to be both health-conscious and plus size, and that size isn't always an indicator of how healthy a person is.
That being said, if someone is overweight because they have a poor diet and don't exercise enough, that's still absolutely none of your business. No one has any right to shame the person or try to make them feel badly about themselves. People are allowed to live their lives however they see fit, and if someone would rather eat delicious foods and not work out much than be healthy or thin, so be it! You have no place telling other people how to live.
4. You're Conditioned To Be Intimidated By Happy Fat People; You Have To Actively Work to Unlearn This
Everyday, all day, we're bombarded with messages from advertisers and the media telling us that you can't be fat and happy. You need this diet pill! You need these work out videos! You need to be skinny so you can be healthy and happy! We've been conditioned by advertisers and the media to glorify a thin body type and to view larger ones as unattractive, which is why, when we see someone who's fat and content with themselves, some of us just lose our minds a little. We're taught to be discontent with ourselves if we're not thin by companies so that we buy their weight-loss products, so people who are content and fat go against everything we've learned over our whole lives. I try to keep this in mind whenever I get negative feedback on my appearance across social media- being fat and happy in a society that profits off of our insecurities is a radical thing.
5. Intersectionality Or Bust!
If your version of body positivity doesn't include everyone- babes of every ethnicity and color under the sun, disabled babes, mentally ill babes, LGBTQ babes, thin babes, unhealthy babes, fat babes, fit babes, femme babes, babes who don't wear makeup, men, etc.- then it's not body positivity. Body positivity is for EVERYONE, because absolutely everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. Don't exclude or bash one group to make your own group feel better about itself. There's room for us all to be lovely & valued.
The Body Positive Movement is about promoting self-love as-is, without any qualifiers. You're allowed to love yourself NOW, not when you lose ten pounds, or a skipped meal from now, or tomorrow, but right this minute. Body positivity involves trying to recondition ourselves not to view being overweight as being a 'before' picture, but rather to appreciate people individually for who they are. Mental health and positive self-image are inextricably linked, and the Body Positive Movement has done so many beautiful things for so many people. Realize that you can be fat, happy and beautiful all at once. Know that body positivity is about mental health and that size isn't always an indicator of how healthy someone is. Remember that body positivity is for absolutely everyone- never put anyone down in order to try to lift up someone else! That's just not cool.
Now, go get started on your own personal body positive journey! You're perfect just the way you are and you should be celebrated!
Images by Cayan Ashely Photography