What Body Positivity Should Really Look Like

I see many people online (and in person) see a picture of a pretty woman who happens to be overweight and happy, and all they say is "Why are we glorifying being fat?"

I never knew that looking good and being happy about it, no matter your size, was glorifying anything.

But then I see normal pictures of overweight women looking everyday normal, and all those same people make fun of them, yet again, as if no matter what the overweight woman does, it's wrong.  So the real problem they have has nothing to do with glorifying anything or how slobby someone looks.

It has to do with being fat, period.

But does it really?

Because if there's a picture of a super thin girl wearing something sexy, that's supposedly glorifying anorexia.  And if they look normal everyday slobby, you'll see comments of "that poor thing!".

When you ask these people what their deal is, they will tell you "It's a health issue!  Being too fat or too skinny is totally unhealthy!"  My response to that is "So is having cancer, but where are your comments when you see a cancer patient?"

One might argue that having cancer isn't a self-inflicted issue, as being obese or too skinny is.  I will say that argument is completely ignorant, as you have no idea whether or not that person is a smoker or knowingly took something that gave them cancer.  But even if they did, would you judge them then?  And many people are born super thin, unable to put on weight, as are some obese people who are born that way, unable to lose the weight.  I've known many in both categories.

Body positivity isn't being proud to be fat.  Yet all these naysayers are screaming about how much that's exactly what it's about.  They feel it's about glorifying fatness, and making it seem like "it's okay to be fat". 

But that's the problem, it IS okay to be fat.   And it's okay to be skinny.  

What is not okay is hating yourself.  Even if the world tells you that you should.  The world is so very wrong.

We are now seeing overweight women getting more mainstream and lead roles in movies and TV, which is a good thing.  They prove that bigger women can do exactly the same things as smaller women and that how well you act (or sing, etc.) has nothing to do with your size. 

Now, if only those roles didn't come with the expectation that the overweight woman's role wasn't just about her being overweight, but that's another fight for another day, I guess.

When you see people online and in real life bashing someone overweight for "glorifying fatness", think back to the times when, not too long ago, the world bashed gay people for making being gay mainstream.  They cried that Ellen was "glorifying gayness".  They screamed about how watching gay men and women be, not only a part of mainstream society, but also excelling at it, was going to make others feel it was "okay to be gay".  But, just like being fat, nobody seeks out being gay.  And nobody sets out to be fat, we just become it for a myriad of reasons or we were born that way.

I never watched Hairspray and thought "I want to be just like her!"  Well, that's kind of a lie.  I actually did want to be like her.  I wanted to be confident enough to dance in front of people without feeling bad about myself.  But my love of Rikki Lake's character had nothing to do with her size, and everything to do with her determination.  Even though her size was also an inspiration to me as a skinny girl.  I may have not been overweight as a child, but I sure was a helluva lot of others things (shy, awkward, weird, nerdy, etc.).  Rikki didn't glorify being fat, she was a girl who did whatever the fuck she wanted, even in the face of her tormentors.  And that's exactly what I needed to have as a role model as a child.  A woman with weaknesses who prevailed anyways.

Tracy Turnblad was, and always will be, a hero for every single girl who is shamed for who they are or how they look.

Because body positivity isn't about glorifying our bodies, it's about accepting them and loving them, as is.  For those who say we can't love ourselves as is, that we always need to strive to be better, my question is this: "Are we supposed to hate ourselves while we strive to get better?"  Or shall we strive to get better (as all people should) while accepting who we are, body, mind, and soul and loving who that person is?  Because that's the only way we'll ever be truly happy in this life.  And if we die fat or we die skinny, wouldn't we rather spend this time we have on earth loving who we are rather than hating ourselves?

Because regular-sized people hate themselves, too.  Back when I still thin, I hated my body more than I did when I got fat.  So body positivity has nothing to do with your size, and everything to do with love.  Acting and thinking from a place of love and acceptance, to me, is the only path to happiness.  Bashing yourself or others for their (or your) body size is an act of hatred and only comes from a place of sadness and fear.  And who wants to spend their lives wallowing in that?

If you've seen This Is Us, you'll see Mandy Moore play a mother who supposedly loves her child so much, that she made every single moment of her daughter's childhood be about her weight.  Rather than teaching her to be resilient and loving, she taught her nothing but shame, fear, and sadness.  Her concern had nothing to do with a mother's love and everything to do with her own insecurities.  Which is what you need to remember when you read anyone online or hear in real life someone bashing a fat person, that their words are dripping in fear and insecurity.  Whenever anyone makes fun of another person or bashes them, it never has anything to do with the person they are bashing, and everything to do with their own bullshit.  Read Don Miguel Ruiz's The Voice of Knowledge for more on this (amazing book!).

Fatphobia is real and is everywhere you look (as is homophobia and other phobias). 

But when people are secure in their own bodies, they have no reason to fear the bodies of others.  That's why body positivity is so important in this world.  When we can be okay with who we are: fat, thin, tall, short, gay, straight, etc., then all of a sudden the world becomes a much less scary place and we will find that we have no need to lash out.  

Body positivity is knowing you are perfect with all of your imperfections and society's perception of your supposed imperfections, and loving who you are anyways.  I want to lose weight, yes, but I love myself at the weight I am.  And not because I am fat, but because I am alive and I am me.  When I was thin, my obsession with staying thin caused me to hurt and hate myself.  Me not eating was far more unhealthy than me weighing what I do right now. 

Body positivity is also about knowing that your body is your business, nobody else's.  You don't need to explain or justify to a single person about why your body is different than theirs, even though we are made to feel like we have to.  Check out The Body is Not An Apology for lessons on radical self love and how you can overcome the need to justify your own existence to others.

So, what should body positivity really look like?

  • Wearing whatever you're comfortable in, even if society tells you that your body isn't made for it (I wear leggings and tank tops quite regularly!).
  • Being able to look at other human beings and having the first thing you think about them be positive instead of a judgment (it's something you can train your brain to do). 
  • Being able to walk through a public place without wondering if people are looking at you (and not caring if they are).
  • Sticking up for people when others are making fun of their bodies, even if that person isn't around (like, defending pictures of normal people that others are tearing apart). 
  • Learning not to hide yourself for fear of what other people think (like, going to a school reunion despite your body changes since the last time they saw you). 
  • Being able to see past any insults you get about your own body because you realize that person is only saying things out of fear and shame for themselves (it has nothing to do with you, ever!). 
  • Looking in the mirror and seeing a wonderful person, with a wonderful body, and a wonderful soul (instead of seeing only your flaws). 

Body positivity is for EVERYONE, whether you're large or small, short or tall, traditional or a rebel, or anything in between.  

The only true path to happiness is acceptance (not the same as giving up!).  The more we can accept ourselves, the more we can accept others.  And the more we can accept others, the more they can accept themselves.  Love is reciprocal.  So are fear and hate.  

Which do you want to spread? 

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