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Body Positivity isn't Positivity.

In a world where it is normal to be hyper-critical of your body, compare yourself to others constantly, and even go through surgeries to reach the "ideal" body it is no wonder a movement like body positivity was created and grew so quickly. In its creation it was made to encompass everyone, to recognize those whose bodies are different in shape and ability and still to love yourself no matter what. A beautiful start to a movement everyone should be able to get behind.

But, sadly, that is no longer what the body positivity movement looks like. Now a movement is made to kick out those who are "too thin" or "too close to conventional beauty" and push forward one large narrative: "Fat is beautiful." This rhetoric began taking root as those in the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement began to push their ideas into body positivity and would even up being loud enough to make the two one in the same.

This shift brings a question to the table, can you really be body-positive if you are obese and not looking to change it? My answer is no.

Man in blue shirt grabbing his stomach fat

Let me explain. One may not realize that about 69% of the US population is overweight with 33% falling into the obese category, meaning that 1 in 3 Americans are obese today and that number is rising fast. America is in an epidemic of fatness. Many advocates will use this as a reason why fat must be good or at least something to not be looked down on. Something to even be admired, in magazines and fashion shows. Where we are told, "You can workout and eat healthy every day and still be fat!" Being reduced down to our genetics as though we have no control over our lives. That doesn't sound very positive, does it?

Well, here's the good news, all of that is simply not true. Yes, genetics can play a factor but not more than calories in calories out. Bodies are morphed and shaped by our activity and diet and to deny that is to deny science. To stay at a weight that will almost certainly lead to joint pain and create a higher risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many more illnesses it cannot be possible to want to stay that way and be positive towards your body.

To be truly body-positive means you have to love your body, and in turn, love yourself. To be leading it to a place of self-destruction is not self-love, but a clear sign of self-hatred, dislike, or indifference. Having a hard time understanding how this makes sense? You're enjoying your life by indulging and who cares about the risks? As HAES says, no illness is restricted to fat people. So, let me give you an example.

If your parent, best friend, or partner came to you explaining that they have started smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, what would you do? Would you just leave them to their own devices? Let them get away with it because "you could have lung cancer without smoking cigarettes" or would you do the thing that shows you love and care for them and get them to try and break the bad habit? I'd argue if you cared for them at all you would want them to stop. To break the addiction and have a greater chance to live longer and without illness.

Being obese lowers your life expectancy and lowers your quality of life. You are less likely to be comfortably flying, be able to ride a horse or enjoy rides at an amusement park. Not even mentioning all of the physical things one cannot only not do but are unsafe after you have reached a certain point.

Man at gym curling a dumbbell

None of this means you have to be thin or a stick (and honestly you probably shouldn't be that either) but it does mean you should work to better yourself and your body. To be body positive should mean you love yourself where you are but are always looking to become a better version of yourself tomorrow. If you are truly body positive you should want to work for your body to carry your kids, nieces, nephews, or even dogs/ cats. You should want to be able to go on those hikes with your friends to see more of this world. You should want MORE for yourself.

A common criticism of what I have said is that I think people need to fit one body type and try to stop them from taking up space. In body positivity, this means if you gain weight/ grow to an unhealthy size, so what? You deserve to take up that space. This is a very one-track mind on how to think about bodies, health, and fitness. True there is no one body size but that does not mean the only way to be you and be seen is to stop caring how you look and how your body feels.

So, I challenge us to look at the statement "take up space" in a different way. Take up more space by doing more. Being able to move more and be more conformable doing so. Create a reality where you can get around the world happy and healthy. Take. Up. Space. Live the life you truly deserve to live.

Everyone should love and care for themselves enough to want to work towards lifelong happiness, not just momentary pleasures. To then put in the work and move towards that reality shows love and true positivity towards your body and your soul. So are you ready to really be body positivity, do more, and be more? Let's all become the best version of ourselves.


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