I have considered myself a firm member of the body positive community for a rather long time. I underatand where it came from, how it started and why it was needed.
The rest of this post is going to talk about and weight loss so there’s your content warning and here is the jump…
The tl;dr version is that it started out as the fat positive movement; a place for (what is clinically referred to) obese persons to stand up and be counted and shout out their love for themselves; their rolls, their dimples, their thighs, their arms, their bellies… Everything; and hell fucking yeah it was, and still is, much needed and it’s high time that society took notice.
Self love doesn’t have a size or weight limit. It doesn’t have a moulded shape. Self love and acceptance is for everyone…
Which is why I was so surprised to be met with so much hate after my last blog post.
Like every movement there are “elitists”. I do wish to point out that this is how they come across to myself; I do not profess to speak for everyone. Never have, never will.
Since I am now on the “other side” of the proverbial thin little line in the sand that by all accounts divides “us”, I’m being told I have no place in the “body positive” community.
What is this division?
Group A) Those who are happy, comfortable and confident in their larger skin and aren’t actively trying to lose weight… i.e. no lifestyle changes that would facilitate that outcome.
Group B) Those who are happy, comfortable and confident in their larger skin and are actively trying to lose weight via any number of lifestyle changes that suit them. For any reason.
The “elitists” from Group A (of who I have talked to many over the last days) are hell bent on pushing anyone from Group B out of the body positive community and movement altogether.
Why? Because according to the elitists once you start to actively lose weight AND talk about it within the community, you are no longer being body positive.
I could understand if all that was talked about was diet and numbers; nobody wants to hear that. I can understand the subject of posts that are openly screaming for congratulatory comments and reactions from people; you don’t need anyone’s attention or approval to be valid or to love yourself. I also totally understand that this can be triggering to those who are battling eating disorders. I get that. I’ve been there. I still go there.
What I cannot get behind is openly making plus size and formerly plus size Group B persons feel like utter and absolute crap for openly talking about weight loss; not as a full on topic of conversation – just as a passing comment or personal life journey update on their own blog/page/profile; and not talking about weight loss as a way of body acceptance or conforming to societal norms.
I’m talking about plus size people who are losing weight because they have health issues which could possibly endanger their lives if they didn’t lose weight. Plus size people with chronic health conditions that affect mobility and cause extreme pain that can be eased by weight loss.
They’re being shamed and made to feel like total shit just for trying to improve their health. I will now point out that I know full well that weight and size do not necessarily mean a person is healthy or unhealthy. You can’t tell a person’s health by looking at their body size or shape or by reading numbers off of a scale.
I’ve talked to many ladies and gents (who wish to remain anonymous for their own privacy) who are currently plus size or have been plus size and have been losing weight. I’ve been told horror stories and given quotes…
“You don’t deserve to be part of this… You obviously don’t love yourself ‘at any size’ because you’re advertising your weight loss.”
The lady who received that message had been in an accident and needed her knee replacing. The only way they would do it is if she lost 9lbs before surgery and a further 14lbs after surgery; this would mean less strain on the new knee, easier healing and overall longevity of the implant. This was a surgical conversation on a forum.
“Fuck off! We don’t want to hear about your new routine – this is a place for people who do actually love themselves.”
This gentleman had a heart condition which was exacerbated by his size; he was informed that if he didn’t lose weight (no amount specified to me), he wouldn’t see the new year.
The comment that “warranted” the above reply? “…yeah I’m doing good, managed to do a mile round run this morning!”
“You can’t profess body positivity while talking about your own weight loss.”
This was said to me. It was on a full length pic of me and a friend asked “Have you lost weight?” I replied with a simple “I have, yup.” Then I received the above message from an account which went on to block me before I could even reply. I’m 31 and have cirrhocis of the liver; I can never heal the damage done by my rapid weight gain & original medication* however by losing some I can stop it from getting worse and killing me – because that’s where I was heading.
* I was on 2 cocodamol 4 times a day for four years. The paracetamol side of the medication damaged my liver. When I changed medication and contraceptive, I gained a lot of weight, rapidly.
Do I feel better for losing weight? Physically yes, because now I’m not in as much pain from my FMS and also my liver seems to be doing okay. Mentally I’ve only felt better because my pain levels aren’t as high as they were.
Do I look better for losing weight? I really don’t care. That simple. I looked amazing at a size 26 and I look amazing now at a size 22 and if my dress size changes again I’m still gonna look amazing. My weight/size/shape do not determine how good I look.
I love my tiger stripes, my dimples, my rolls, my tummy, my wings, my chins and my thighs when I sit and they do the thing. I love my body.
The only thing that all this has made me wonder is if the fat positive and body positive movements should be separate… because to me after comments, conversation and snippets from forums the “community” seems to look like this…
Body Positivity is about doing what is right for your own body, while being accepting and supporting of others in the community who don’t conform to societal standards & A) dont want to change themselves or B) do want to/are changing themselves.
Does societies expectations of us suck majorly and need to change? YES.
Should everyone be more accepting and inclusive of those whose size doesn’t conform to said expectations? YES.
Should people stop judging a person’s health by the size, shape or gravitational mass of their body? YES.
Is more education needed? YES.
Should people stop trying to tell each other what to eat/wear/drink or how to live? YES.
Do we need to stop focussing on the numbers? YES.
Should people be made to feel like absolute shit for doing what is best in regards to their own body and health? NO.