Myths About Body Positivity

There are plenty of subjects centered around self-love, body image, and body positivity that I would love to cover on my blog, but because my general thoughts on certain aspects can be condensed in one or two paragraphs, I’d figure that they all belong in one blog post. Maybe there will be a Part 2 if any hot topic comes to fruition! Just before I address the various misconceptions about body positivity, here is why this post was born in the first place: despite not being an actual self-identified member of the community, I have found that the movement has received more flack–both legitimate and not. There has been quite a lot of questioning surrounding the intentions of the body positivity community versus the genesis of body positivity itself, similarly to how one would view any type of de juro philosophy versus de facto. Here, I wanted to dissect more about what the anatomy of the de juro body positivity movement centers on (essentially what it originally is about and what it should focus on) instead of the community’s activities because they differ across the board.

Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race or appearance. The movement strives to change people’s behaviors and perceptions towards certain products and services profiting from body insecurities such as physical fitness and health club services and weight loss products.

A. Ramos (2019)
  • “Losing weight is not body positive.”
    • Cassey Ho’s 90-day journey is such a notable example of how weight loss has been antagonized in the body positivity community. Any pursuit of weight loss where someone is technically not overweight, obese, or would medically benefit from losing extra pounds, appears anti-body positive since most body positivity advocates tout losing weight as a disordered and vanity-based endeavor. However, weight loss is not always centered around aesthetic rewards–sometimes, people need to do so due to severe health conditions or have undergone personal traumas where fitness can aid in their self-care and recovery with weight loss being a byproduct. In Cassey’s case, we can argue that she wanted to get back into shape because the stress she endured leading up to her weight gain was traumatic, not necessarily the extra pounds themselves. It would be helpful to see a five-year update on the 90-day journey to see if her newfound routine is truly sustainable, but what matters most is whether you are happier afterwards. Overall, weight loss does not deserve the negativity it receives, unless it is constantly glamorized with dangerous methods, arbitrary claims without science-based evidence, and no regard to mental health and the fact that it is not suitable for everyone.
  • “Most of the body types glamorized in the movement are not healthy.”
    • Here’s a question: what is healthy to you? What is healthy to your friends/family/S.O.? Most likely, at least one definition someone gives you will differ from yours. If you describe healthy as “not fat”, then what does it mean to be fat in your opinion (because there are forums dedicated to chiding models for being too fat and the modeling industry itself is notorious for never hesitating on requests for already-thin models to become skinnier)? Perhaps you refer to the models who appear morbidly obese or somewhat overweight. While this is fair, just because we see a model that appears unhealthy does not negate the fact that they can be unhealthy. Fitness does not have to be solely represented by people who clearly do not need to lose weight because there are countless folks who pursue working out and eating more healthily NEED to do so! The purpose of modeling entails showcasing clothing in a certain size and style–these clothes just so happen to fit a body shape that is larger than average. It is encouraging to view models of all shapes and sizes because consumers who share that body composition will know they can wear that clothing as well, AND feel beautiful and confident at the same time (at least if the outfits are fashionable).
  • “You have to look a certain way/weigh a certain amount to be approved by the body positive movement.”
    • Correction: you have to exude a certain attitude to be approved by the body positive movement. What is this, might you ask? It is the mentality embodying the acceptance of all body types, all parts of one’s body (including rolls, cellulite, beauty marks, stretch marks, scars, etc.), physiological reactions of the human body (i.e. menstruation, pregnancy, bloating, etc.), and a stable and loving–but not attached or co-dependent–relationship with food, exercise, and health. Granted, I do not deny that body positivity seems to praise certain body shapes and sizes more than others, but this is not what de juro body positivity intends for. It is just a matter of time where certain sectors of the community itself will becoming more accepting of all bodies, so as long as the lifestyles themselves are healthy and do not appear obsessed with being perfect. But regardless, those in the body positive movement can maintain any type of shape.
  • “They need to stop praising Lizzo and Tess Holliday.”
    • To be frank, I genuinely do not understand why the hate circulating around them even exist. It is pretty clear that A) most of us would not strive to be her size because there is plenty of scientific evidence backing the detriments of body fat in extreme excess, and B) not everyone who are fat praise either one of them. Obesity can happen to anyone, though it is a very complex medical problem that requires all kinds of factors to be born. Holliday has mentioned several times that she believes in taking care of your health for yourself and has showcased herself working out (though this has been moderated due to Internet trolls) in spite of what she might have stated in the past. Just look at Lizzo’s TikTok. It is full of workout collages and “full day of eating” videos that integrate veggie-centric plant-based meals with reasonable portions! Moreover, for fuck’s sake, none of these women are is not a personal trainer or nutrition coach. Because of this, you shouldn’t even be looking to people like them for health advice, even if they weighed 60-80 pounds less or could walk a lingerie runway. Honestly, just leave them be. Unless they are directly articulating that you can consume as much junk food as you want and never exercise, then there truly is no issue to fixate on either of them.
  • “It’s just an excuse for companies to make money off of women’s insecurities.”
    • Sadly, this is one of the myths that holds truth. But welcome to capitalism–this is what almost every type of industry resorts to: the profiteering off of women’s insecurities, as well as everyone else’s. Companies that manufacture makeup, diet plans, workout programs, skincare, jewelry, fashion, hygiene, they ALL do this. For instance, after viewing an Instagram post of fancy vegan and cruelty free deodorant, I now feel insecure about possessing stinky armpits when I initially never thought about them for a second. Having said that, can it be discouraging to never, ever be fairly represented in the media by companies that market around beauty? Absolutely, which is why representation matters, especially in this day and age where more consumers demand products that cater towards racial, LGBTQ+, and body diversity. Seeing a model that resembles my appearance suggests to me that I am acknowledged. Negation of publicizing all shapes and sizes equates to not being heard or recognized as an important part of society.
  • “Health at every size is not glamorous–it’s dangerous.”
    • Many have found solace in this movement because they can resonate with individuals who keep it real with their cellulite, squishy parts of their tummy, and some fat that can roll and spill off clothes. On the other hand, others grimace at the idea of glorifying obesity and other types of bodies that are not seen as healthy (“ew, they’re too fat!” or “not fat enough“). Yes, as a statement, health at every size is not necessarily true, nor is it optimal. Here’s the low-down: it’s not about glamorization or glorification. Again, it’s about acknowledgment as a form of respect. For the most part, people recognize health as something that is biochemically individual and difficult to determine just by looking at someone (with the exception of extreme cases). Most people who are morbidly obese are entirely aware of the repercussions of their condition, actively trying their best to alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms. Same goes with people who have much smaller builds and tend to forget to eat. Health at every size is not perfect, but it has encouraged many to garner a more balanced and compassionate approach to how they view their body image and their relationship with health without denigrating the deviation from eating clean and working out constantly.
  • “Body positivity promotes unhealthy eating and being lazy.”
    • Ah, yes, the best for last…body positivity would supposedly prefer potatoes, bread, cake, cookies, ice cream, and all the junk food over being skinny. Well, shocker: those in the body positivity community like to exercise and eat healthily as well! It is just a matter of alleviating the obsessions with changing your body’s aesthetics through restrictive dieting and over-exercising! Body positivity hopes to catalyze people to love their body image in all steps of their journey or in their maintenance while dismantling any unrealistic standards that consequently result in crash dieting, eating disorders, and destructive habits, including binge eating and not working out at all.

While I uphold the body positive movement as something to be credited, I personally do not consider myself a body positive person. I am more so on the body neutral side because it is challenging for me to force myself to love my body image as much as I’d like–to me, body positivity can be considered more of a goal or an ideal endpoint. Sometimes, I wish I loved my body 100% or 10/10, but I don’t. I could name >10 characteristics I would change in a heartbeat! Regardless, lately the body positivity movement has received some pretty nasty shit–again, some deserved, but some not.

Please let me know if I have missed anything about body positivity! Thank you for reading!

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