Body Positivity Is Great. Period

Body Positivity Is Great. Period

If you are not a doctor, you don't have the right to define someone's health.

Body positivity is something that all people, regardless of size, shape, color or gender absolutely need to survive. Last week, an article was written in the UNC Greensboro community that criticized the body positive movement, saying that the idea is ineffective when it 'ignores health concerns.' The article goes on to ostracize body positivity, and although I think the author had good intentions here, they did not articulate themselves at all. Here's my response to "Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It's Ignoring Health Concerns."

To begin, weight does not indicate health. Everyone carries their weight differently. Just because someone looks 'obese' or 'overweight' to you, doesn't mean they actually are obese or overweight. The actual definition of 'obese' is "grossly fat or overweight," but who decides if the person is grossly fat? All of the women in the photo below weigh the exact same weight, 154 lbs.

Second, if you are not a doctor, you do not have the right or the qualifications to define someone's health. There are several health conditions that can cause an individual to gain weight, and often these medical conditions don't take into consideration whether you balance your fruits and vegetables. Some of these conditions can result from thyroid issues, mental-illness-related problems, or simply side effects from hormones.

Just as many of these health conditions make it more difficult for people lose weight. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance, or even something as simple as depression.

Next, I'd like to articulate some things. In the article written last week, the author makes a few key points which I'd like to debunk. First, they mention that the body positive movement "promotes a sedentary lifestyle."

This is so incorrect that I don't even know where to begin. Not everyone who is body positive is 'obese', or 'super-thin.' (I use these terms in quotes because I find those terms to be subjective - the opinion often lies in the eye of the beholder). Those you consider to fall under those terms aren't necessarily unhealthy.

Bigger people are not promoting anything, they're simply existing. Also, no one has ever looked at an 'obese' person and thought, "I'm going to sit around all day so I can look like that." Not sure where this claim comes from, but it honestly sounds made up.

Self-love does not equate to negativity toward exercise and dieting. Like I've mentioned before, not everyone who is body-positive is plus-size, and those that are don't necessarily hate health or exercise. I think the author was considering a very small group of people when they wrote this article, and that's simply disrespectful because they generalized a whole bunch of people.

The author of the article also posed this question to their audience, "Where is the line between body confidence and obesity?" Why does there have to be a line between the two? Couldn't the line connect both together? Since 'obese' is a subjective term, I'll begin using the word 'overweight,' or the phrase 'seemingly overweight' from now on.

Can seemingly overweight people not have body confidence? Why should self-love correlate with health at all? The two are very separate things and do not depend on one another. They can reflect one another if the individual feels that way, but they do not require one another to exist. And again, you may be severely incorrect in assuming someone is unhealthy based on the way they look to you.

What you consider 'health,' and what someone else considers 'health' is always going to be different. When people throw up the middle finger on Instagram in regards to body-shaming, they are looking to shame those similar to the author of this article. That middle finger is to shame those who think they're helping thinner people or bigger people by offering unsolicited and unqualified medical advice concerning that individual's health.

To be fair, it's never been about health. The author was correct when they mentioned the correlation between body image and society. Often people decide what is 'healthy' and 'normal' based on what they see both in the media and in society. The truth is: society will never be pleased with how you look. Clothing companies will never truly accommodate for plus size people, and if people truly cared about our health, they'd advocate for an increase in plus-size active wear, or even for the decrease of fat-shaming so that plus-size people no longer have to hide.

For some reason, people think that fat-shaming bigger people will encourage them to lose weight. It's the same with skinny-shaming, really. Here's some tea: it may encourage weight-loss, but what about when that weight-loss isn't healthy? What about when that weight-loss spirals into an eating disorder? Is that the individual's fault too?

Society and the media will never take responsibility for its faults. At the end of the day, what matters is how you feel about yourself and your body. Self-love does not and will never correlate with the amount of love you have to give, or the amount of love others have to give to you. Unconditional love for yourself will come from you loving yourself unconditionally, no matter what state you're in. You are lovable and acceptable the way you are, no matter how you are.

And no, we're not sending a radical message to anyone. Let's not pretend body-shaming is an issue that pertains only to women. We are sending a message to women, men, young boys and girls that there is a need to love yourself, rather than the need to be thinner or bigger. You just have to learn to love yourself.

Like I said, I think this author had their heart in the right place, but the execution of opinion was not the best in my opinion.

"Let's leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize." Yeah, why don't we?

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How We Can Help Millennials With Mental Illnesses

Make Mental Health Less Taboo.

Over the course of my childhood, there have been people here and there who, including myself, have suffered from various mental illnesses. But recently, as I began college, I noticed more and more people having to deal with severe mental issues. Why is this happening? Were they always there and I just noticed? Or are we at that age where our brains are put under so much pressure that they cannot handle it without some type of medication?

This is a subject that has bothered me for a while. In high school, I had to tip-toe around others to hide that I'm dealing with things like anxiety and depression. But in college, as you are scrolling through your social media accounts, there are many jokes that normalize these mental illnesses. They become those "relatable" memes that everyone "likes." These memes include "funny" captions like "Netflix and Avoid People"

or "Me to me," with Kermit the frog talking to himself about self-destructive behaviors.

Not that comic relief isn't a good thing, but that makes it so normal that people don't understand the actual amount of suffering that happens while you are experiencing mental illnesses. There are "funny" memes where there are fake text messages saying phrases such as "I'm in the middle of a mental breakdown, you? / Just got through a mental breakdown."

While this is light, the main issue isn't addressed. Why are millennials (people approximately 18-early 30s) suffering from these mental illnesses?

My theory is that as we develop into adults, much like a sorting hat, it seems we are each assigned a battle to fight as we develop into who we are supposed to be. Maybe we are healthy children, but the habits we develop as adults cause some type of mental or physical illness.

According to an article for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

"Millennials are often referred to as the 'anxious generation.' They were the first to grow up with the constant overflow of the Internet and social media. The Internet can make life better, but it can also make life complicated, as Millennials often compare their personal and professional achievements to everyone else’s. This can result in low self-esteem and insecurity."

The article is right about social media causing low self esteem. I know when I was growing from a teen into an adult, I started to want to be friends with certain people because they looked "cool" on Facebook and Instagram. I diminished my achievements because it didn't seem "good enough" to match everyone else's. I'm not saying social media causes that actual chemical imbalance that is a mental illness, but it certainly doesn't help it.

Also, as I said before, maybe it's the fact that we are given more pressure somewhere, starting from the most important year in high school- junior year -and all throughout college when we are trying to figure out our career paths. We have deadlines, are expected to manage our time between rest, work, school, maintaining appearance and a social life. I know for a FACT if you have no social life, and I've had that, it can lead to depression; a socal life is just as important as the other parts of life.

I like to reference the mental and emotional health pyramid, also known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

The pyramid is not properly taught growing up and should be included in the school health curriculum. Now I'm not saying that knowing all these things will actually deter the medical problem that is mental illness, but it will give you at least an idea of what important factors to focus on in your life. Also, therapy is still a taboo subject. Therapy is not just for people with mental illnesses; it is like having a life coach. And it is all about you. THAT is what needs to be normalized. WHY so many people experience health problems at this age; I'm not a doctor so I don't know, but we can help each other by opening a discussion about it.

Cover Image Credit: geralt / Pixabay

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The 5 Best iPhone Fitness Apps

I'm workin' on my fitness.

Turns out, your phone can be used for more than just scrolling through Instagram or endless online shopping (Although, let’s be real, many of us would be fine if that were all it could do). There is a plethora of health and fitness apps on the market, that, when used correctly, can be very beneficial in one’s journey to a healthier lifestyle. If you are anything like me, I am obsessed with finding (cheap) new apps that somehow enhance my life. And when it comes to health and fitness, these are the 5 best ones that I have found so far:

1. Yoga Studio: Mind & Body

Price: $1.99 per month

There are many things to love about Yoga Studio. The session lengths range from 10 minutes to 60 minutes and target specific areas such as balance and flexibility. My favorite thing about the app is the fact that the yoga for beginners is actually possible for a beginner to do. It is challenging enough to be worth it, but not so difficult for a beginner that it is discouraging. The intensity of the sessions goes all the way up to advanced, and there are classes for certain things such as back pain, deep relaxation, and even prenatal yoga. You can also make your own classes by selecting the poses that you like. You can create a yoga schedule on the app and even link it to the apple health app.

2. Fooducate

Price: Free

Fooducate is a fantastic app. You can search for or scan the bar code of almost food item and the Fooducate app will assign that food a grade, ranging from D to A, based on how healthy it is overall. There are detailed explanations as to why certain foods or brands receive that grade, along with all of the nutritional information of that food, and a list of healthier alternatives. You can also track your caloric intake on the app and find free diet tidbits and healthy recipes.

3. Nike+ Run Club

Price: Free

Nike Run Club must be the best app on the market for runners. The most basic quick start feature tracks how far you run and how long it takes, but the app has many more features. It shows you specifics about your route, pace, and splits. There are also guided runs, where you have a coach in your ear, and you can pick a running plan that lasts either 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or up until an upcoming race. The app has challenges and personal achievements. Music can be played through the app.

4. Meal Time

Price: Free, with some recipes premium.

Mealime is a simple app to navigate with a multitude of healthy recipes, most of them free. You set your eating preferences and can build a personalized meal plan or just check out the recipes. The app details the cookware needed along with the ingredients and instructions needed to make the dish. It is easy to save your favorite recipes so that you can cook them again and again.

5. Sworkit: Abs & Core

Price: Free

While it’s mother app, Sworkit: Workouts & Plans, is not free, this mini-version is. You can select if you want to focus on abs or back strength, as well as the duration of the session, which can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. A Person appears on the screen to demonstrate the workouts while a voice-over talks you through it.

Cover Image Credit: We Know Your Dreams

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