Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It's Ignoring Health Concerns

Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It's Ignoring Health Concerns

The popularity in body positivity affects how we view health and fitness.

The body positivity movement founded in 1996, has been one of the best movements to help women. The movement encourages women to accept their bodies while improving health and well-being. The movement, growing in popularity, has become an anthem to the plus-sized community. Since the age of super modeling, only slender women have been given the platform. Things have changed, famous plus-size model Ashley Graham has made waves. Graham a body positivity advocate is tearing down the idea of big women cannot be sexy. Women who are full-figured are sexy, they can wear lingerie and bikinis; this is the revolution.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble but, women’s bodies in the media have never been about women’s empowerment. It has been about aesthetics and sexuality. People have killed to be thin. Bigger women are embracing their bodies, wearing whatever they want. These attitudes are challenging the traditional standard of beauty. What had started out as radical love for one’s body has been diluted and reduce to shallowness adopting negative attitudes towards exercise. As a fitness advocate, the body positivity movement isn’t fighting for health or equality it is fighting for the crown of attractiveness.

On Social Media, the body positivity movement has become political. Women are sick of conforming and are sick of the ridicule for not having the perfect body, so they should be. But what about health? The movement is promoting a sedentary lifestyle. Tessa Holiday, the world’s first size 22 model and the founder of #effyourbeautystandards campaign, is well known for her ideas about body confidence. In the past, she has tweeted:

“If you want someone to preach health over self-love, I’m not your girl.”

Tweets and thoughts like these are alarming. What is the end message? Shouldn’t self-love correlate to health? Where is the line between body confidence and obesity? Media plays a power influence in acceptance, normalizing obesity, when in fact obesity is a disease as well as an epidemic. Overweight and obese people are at a higher risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Yes, skinny people can be unhealthy, but their risk is dramatically lower. For one, we have to stop associating skinny as healthy, you can be skinny and have unhealthy eating habits. It seems confidence and this self-love talk is going to people’s heads.

In the US, two-thirds of women are overweight. I have family members struggling with diseases associated with their weight, it’s not pretty. I have seen children in my church struggle to stand while begging for food. Normalizing obesity is a problem! Are advocates of this movement in denial? Are they too focused on peoples’ opinions? The message we are sending to young women and girls are radical. The pressure to be thin has been replaced with “it is okay to be obese.” Neither one is correct. When can healthy be sexy? When will we normalize health?

This new radical ideology from the Body positivity campaign is the result of fat-shaming. Celebrities like Rihanna and Katy Perry have been fat-shamed. Fat shaming is everywhere and it is unnecessary. Skinny and fit people need to back off for a minute with chastisement and encourage those that aren’t fit. People know what they look like, let’s leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize. Our bodies are complex, some people cannot lose or gain weight. At the end of the day, if you love you- you will love others.

Unconditional love for yourself will result in living life in the best condition. I’m not saying women in the body positivity movement aren’t healthy, some are. I’m saying we should have people in the movement telling you healthy is better than sexy. We don’t need people giving the finger towards health! As we get older, our bodies slow down. Excessive weight puts unwanted pressure on our heart and internal organs, causing pain and joint immobility. Role models in the movement are responsible for bringing awareness to health, because what woman wearing over a size 10 wants to hear a woman who is a size 6 telling her about health.

SEE ALSO: Let's Put A Warning Label On The 'Body Positivity' Movement

Let’s get one thing straight, beauty standards are a fantasy. Women bodies are distorted images playing on the insecurities of women. We are constantly focusing on the society, how society sees me, will society accept me. Fuck that and focus on health and yourself. I have struggled with body issues too. My body frame is large and muscular; I have strong thighs and a wide back. I have overcome my struggles with tons emphasize on ton of self-help, eating healthy, and focusing on how I feel when I eat.

Even though I am athletic, I have been called fat plenty of times in my life. What I would like to see is the body positive movement be accessible to everyone having a struggle. Diversify the moment include women of color, men, burned victims, trans women. After all the goal is intersectionality. I want to see full-figured women wearing bikinis in commercials playing sports. I want to see big women on BuzzFeed being active and eating heathy. I want to see clothing stores have clothes for those who are awkward and in between small and plus-sized. Can we normalize health please! I want to see positive body positive images. Our bodies are strong and healthy. The message is you can achieve confidence while striving for your health.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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It's Not About What You Wear

Connect with the people you love and everything else will melt away

As a young girl, fashion played a big role in my life. Of course, looking back now, I don’t think I can necessarily call my clothing choices“fashion.” But that never stopped me. I loved dressing up and acting mature, or just dressing down and acting like a complete fool. Whatever I put on, I felt comfortable in. However, that all changed as I began growing up. I started to notice all of the ridiculous standards girls my age were expected to reach: size zero waist, big butt, large breasts, big eyes, small nose, full lips, and long legs. It was overwhelming. My self-esteem that was once so high began to drop further and further down with every little comment or criticism about my body. It got to a point where I began to become convinced that everyone was making fun of my appearance behind my back or at least thinking it. I understand how self-obsessed and narcissistic that may sound, but paranoia really does take over. I pined after the pretty girls I saw on social media with their perfect bodies and fulfilling lives. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I dreaded leaving the house. The stress of finding something to wear with the intent of hiding or essentially blurring my body became onerous. I hated looking at myself, feeling embarrassed and angry that I let myself look and feel this way.

As I started my infernal journey through high school, my self-esteem began affecting other elements of my life. I started to blame every negative aspect that occurred towards my weight. My life was turning bleak and my existence was becoming questionable. The infliction of insecurities unfolded into something deeper and darker: depression. I looked back and yearned for the 7-year old that was fearless and worry-free. The 7-year-old who was comfortable in her own skin. I soon got myself stuck in a dark hole so deep, it felt inescapable and suffocating.

As I slowly started to approach my final years of high school, I met a group of people in band class during my junior year. Through multiple classes and countless hours spent together through the band program, we became a close-knit group, almost like a bunch of peas squished together into one small pod. As cliché as this may sound, they changed my entire outlook on the world and even on how I viewed myself. The world was gaining back its vivid colors and the rope was being rolled down into my deep dark chasm. I realized that my life is precious and important. I have meaning and purpose. Something as little as my appearance should have no effect on the achievements I wish to pursue in life. The simple act of surrounding yourself with positive vibes and good people can make a whole lot of a difference. However, it is not only about the people around you. It took me a long time to realize this, but the most imperative and influential addendum is your mindset. After months of controlling my anxiety by spending time with convivial people, I started training my mind. I reminded myself of my importance and the people in my life that cared for me. Although my 7-year old persona is not back and may never return, I learned an even better lesson and have become a new person. I got back my sense of importance and meaning. I now see that such insignificant factors, such as how you look or how you dress, should have no correlation to your success in life. The part of me I once pined for has learned to not look back, but to move on forward and focus on the bigger things in life. It has also learned to work that much harder for the things it truly wants.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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My Diet Is Eating Whatever I Want Whenever I Want

Eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

When I was about 15 years old, I became a little too health-obsessed, to the point where I developed an eating disorder. I restricted my calories and ate a low-carb diet. I became extremely underweight and developed other health issues, such as almost being anemic. This was quite a dark time in my life, however, through familial support and a change in mindset, I was able to overcome my anorexia.

After being "cured" of my eating disorder, I still did not have a healthy relationship with food. I saw food as evil, for I believed food would make me fat. I did want to eat but did not want to gain weight. I began looking for different diets that would make me feel satisfied while allowing me to keep my belly flat; I happened to stumble upon the vegan diet. In particular, I stumbled upon Freelee's Youtube channel, in which she advertised the vegan diet as a magical diet in which one could eat as many carbs as one wanted while still remaining lean.

And so, after watching countless of Youtube videos on veganism, I go vegan. I stop eating all animal products, even honey. I was a strict vegan. I would make a lot of my own foods because a lot of foods like granola bars, for example, have dairy or other animal products in them. I am not going to say I hated the vegan diet, or that I ever felt restricted because it was a wonderful experience that I would never take back. I learned that you can make good food without having to use animal products. I was vegan for about a year, and then I stopped.

To be completely honest, I do not know why I stopped being vegan, but I just remember saying I just wanted to eat chicken again.

When I went back to being an omnivore, I noticed I gained a lot of weight and felt uglier and more lethargic. I did not like this feeling of feeling heavier without energy, however, I remained an omnivore.

It was not until I got to college that my diet would again change. In my dining hall, there is a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. When the options are available, it is difficult for me to resists them, since I naturally have a tendency to eat fewer animal products. Currently, I have not been eating meat, and only eat either fish or eggs. However, the majority of the time I eat tofu, fruit, vegetables, and rice. I also don't consume dairy products because they upset my stomach.

I like my new diet, and I used to want to label myself as a "vegan" or as being "dairy-free" however, I don't care about those labels anymore. I eat the foods I like; I eat foods that make me feel happy and healthy.

In addition, I eat whenever I get hungry. If it is midnight and I am studying for an exam, I will go buy some chips and eat them, because I am hungry or I will munch on an apple because I can.

So, that is my diet, my diet is eating the foods I like and eating them at whatever time I want. If you do happen to follow a strict diet, like a vegan diet, I do not shame you for it, I think the vegan diet is a great diet. On the other hand, if you love steak or hamburgers, I do not shame you for that either, at one point in my life, I also ate steak. My point is, eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

Cover Image Credit: Lizbeth Ibarra

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