As body positivity and "fat acceptance" have been on the rise within the past couple years, there has been an inordinate amount of backlash from both the health and fitness communities and, dare I say, the right wing. These are people who can not understand why you would love your body if you're overweight because it's unhealthy. Some people go as far to say we should fat shame people in order to get them to start worrying about their health and losing weight.
The body positivity movement strives to express to men and women alike that they don't have to be the picture of conventional beauty to love themselves and be beautiful. However, with this comes overweight men and women who seek to love their bodies and accept their weight as it is. This has caused many people to chime in and say overweight and obese people shouldn't love their bodies because it is extremely unhealthy to have so much excess body fat.
I don't really understand why there is such a barrier between body positive and health. I don't understand why people think you have to be one or the other. Why can't the communities diverge?
To me, taking care of your body and your health should be an act of self-love. As someone who has battled disordered eating and body image issues for a long time now, I know firsthand that trying to lose weight because you hate how you look can very well lead to self-destructive behavior that will only make you more unhealthy, both physically and mentally.
It is important to treat yourself with compassion and love, even when you are trying to transform your lifestyle and push yourself to lose weight. This should be the main message of body positivity, along with loving yourself even with an unconventional body. The health community should enhance this, by professing health and fitness in a way that emphasizes the importance of taking care of your body for your own personal quality of life.
You should want to eat healthily and exercise because you love yourself and want to improve how you feel and what you are able to do every day. A body positive journey should be a health journey. You should love your body no matter what it looks like, but that doesn't mean you become complacent and surrender to obesity.
It should be noted that body positivity is for EVERYONE, including transgender bodies, disabled bodies, and bodies of color. A primary goal of the community is to encourage love and acceptance for these bodies and to erase discrimination based on physical appearance. This includes obese and overweight people.
I acknowledge that not everyone in each of these communities is completely polarized. Not all fitness advocates think obese people should hate themselves and not all body positive people see no need for obese people to lose weight. However, there are countless videos and articles online on toxic opinions from both ends, and this is what angers me.
Yes, people should love their bodies. Yes, people should want to be healthy. But these two things do not have to be separate. You can and should love your body while worrying about your own health. More emphasis needs to be put on healthy transformation driven by self-love and self-compassion.