Recently, I've spent a lot more time on Facebook that I would really care to admit. I've seen a lot, a lot, of things in the past week alone. I've seen videos of "this will restore your faith in humanity!" and videos of adorable babies and dogs and cats and other wild animals. I've seen videos of "galaxy cakes," and other sweet treats. I've seen so much. True, the repetition of subject matter is probably just due to the lack of variety in the pages I follow, but still, it's like "We. Get. It."
But nothing makes me feel this way more than all of the articles and videos and posts I've seen about body types. It ranges from body positivity to body enhancement to all sorts of unnatural nonsense. And to be very frank, it's irking me a lot. In the past 3 days, I have seen an article about an obese girl and her ultra-thin friend wearing matching outfits to promote body positivity. I saw an article about a girl who refuses to apologize for her breast enhancement because "isn't it every girl's dream to see her boobs fill out her body?" Hmm... And then I saw an article about tooth bedazzling, where they use a process to glue Swarovski crystals onto your teeth. WHAT?! WHY IS THAT A THING?! And don't give me that because I can nonsense. That does not make sense to me. We all had braces, we know how irritating that was! Donate to charity if you have that much extra cash lying around. Or just buy a regular crystal structure!!! Macy's has a lot of them! And to the people who invented it- good job! Way to make money off of extorting people's unbelievable consumerist ideals.
There's so much media out there about "unnatural" body types, from people who are happy with the way they look and want to share that love to people who are willing to artificially alter themselves so they look more like their ideal body type. Both of those extremes are fundamentally unhealthy. The Body Positivity movement started off as something incredibly noble and necessary. Women in media were given unrealistic expectations for body size by models and Hollywood actresses, and the fact of the matter was that not everyone had the genes for full curves, flat tummies, and 3% body fat. Personally, I've struggled with this my entire life. My family's genes are built to be fuller and rounder with a slower metabolism. As a young girl being constantly and overwhelmingly bombarded with media, I was so upset that no matter what I did I couldn't get thin. For me, the movement was incredibly liberating. It told me that I could love my body either way, that I could be happy with who I was even if I was fat. It properly shamed fashion critics who called J-Law, a size-6, a plus-sized actress (this still pisses me off so much.) It was an incredibly effective moment too; curvy is the new thin. Progress was slow and at times a little backwards, but it was there nonetheless.
But now, people are taking it too far. The movement was intended to respect and create inclusiveness for all body types, but instead people are taking it as an excuse to be obese. Hold on now, hear me out before you get too mad at me. Obesity is not healthy. It causes so many health issues and puts you at risk for a cacophony of diseases. But the body positivity movement tells us that it’s okay, it’s okay for you to be overweight because every body type is beautiful. This is dangerous territory. Fellow Odyssey writer Olivia Scherzer says it perfectly in her article when she explains how the body positivity movement encouraged her to wolf down buckets of ice cream, just because it’s okay for her to not be skinny. That’s dangerous, because it is just unhealthy. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, but eating junk food everyday just because you can is not a sustainable life choice. The article by Jessica Torres and Alle Connel, while an entirely noble and just cause, is just not valid. I’m sorry, but overweight people do not look like skinny people, no matter what they wear, and there’s a reason for this! Overweight people are not as “aesthetically pleasing” – to put it in the most crass way possible—because it’s unhealthy to be overweight. Centuries of favoring slim, healthy bodies evolutionarily has brought us to the point where we associate healthy with slimmer bodies, which is biologically correct. The most biologically natural human body does not have excessive amounts of fat on it. It’s unnatural for people to be obese. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that people need to be stick thin. No, we’ve already established that there are a million body types from thin to curvy, and all are natural. There is no one desirable body shape, but it can be generally agreed upon that a 330 pound person is not a natural body shape. That’s the result of bad choices or quite possibly an eating disorder or another type of disease. But when there is a way to avoid to that extra weight, we should try to avoid it, due to the health reasons behind it. Obese people are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, joint disease and so much more. The body positivity movement now needs to move from a focus on inclusivity of body types to a focus on gaining a more healthy body.
My personal story has helped me to see why this is so important. Like I said before, I struggled for years with my body. I dieted, I gave up sugar and fats, I wore shapers, I wore loose clothes. I tried so hard to get that body that I thought would be the most desirable, or to at least trick others into thinking I had that body. Let me be clear, I wasn’t fooling anybody. Eventually, it clicked for me. I just don’t have thin genes. I’m going to be a heavier set person my entire life—that’s just something I have to live with. The body positivity movement, of course, helped me to see that this wasn’t the end of the world. I could still be beautiful, so long as I felt beautiful on the inside. And I most definitely did not. My biggest indicator: I was tired of being out of breath when I ran up the stairs too fast. That is not healthy. So, I took the next step: I got healthy. I got the gym membership and actually force myself to go. I changed the food I eat, and even though it was a really tough break-up with pizza and ice cream, I’m truly so much happier for it. I dropped a few pounds, inevitably with all the increased cardio, but I’m still as round as ever. I don’t “look” any thinner or any better, but by God do I feel better. My mysterious back pain is gone, I can easily run around without breaking a sweat, I feel so much stronger. I made my choices to live a healthier lifestyle, and even though I didn’t get a perfect beach-body, I feel like I have one.
Of course, this by no means everyone needs to go workout every day and never eat processed foods ever again. It just means that you need to find what makes you feel the healthiest. If you’re more of a yoga person than a running person, by all means, do yoga. If you like swimming, swim. If you’re not really an active person much at all, then find whatever it means for you to be engaged and healthy. Maybe that's painting or reading. Maybe it's just going for walks or hiking. Maybe you are entirely happy with your physical condition because you may be overweight but can still do everything you want to do. That's incredible and I sincerely applaud you. I wish I could say the same. Whatever the specifics are, it's all about you finding what keeps you healthier and happier. This is what body positivity needs to move toward. It’s so much more natural this way. Changing lifestyles to find peace with your body—that’s positivity.
Like my mans Kendrick Lamar says,
I'm so f-----' sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretchmarks
Be natural. Be positive. You don't need to artificially enhance yourself, and you don't need to force yourself into loving a body you don't feel healthy in. You just need to find what makes you natural.