Are you overweight? Maybe. Maybe not. But no matter what the scale says, you’re probably still sick of hearing about body image, right? Your own body image may be influenced by the constant barrage of impossible standards of physical beauty in magazines, movies, and on runways. It can make you feel like you’re not good enough (even though you’re freakin’ awesome).
Thing is, body image issues may be taking a swift, heavy pendulum swing the other way–and that’s not necessarily healthy, either. “Fat pride” (more commonly referred to as “fat acceptance“) is becoming more and more popular in terms of a “positive” body image, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe, healthy, or actually beneficial in any way to be overweight.
One proponent of fat acceptance, a woman named Cat Pause, argues, “When people look at a fat body like mine, it tells them I’m unhealthy and that this is a diseased body. It tells them I don’t ever exercise and eat nothing but junk.” Of course, that’s not necessarily true. Are you overweight? Obviously, that doesn’t mean you’re lazy, stupid, or slovenly. Most of us have a set weight point that we fluctuate around, and obesity is often (at least in part) genetic. Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean that they’re healthy nor that they’re necessarily in shape (we bet you can think of a lot of skinny girls who have a tough time in gym class, right?), and, conversely, just because someone appears overweight doesn’t mean that they’re sick. Labels, stereotypes, and assumptions are only damaging to your body image, and that’s not good–which is actually something we agree with Ms. Pause on. “It’s illegal in most countries to discriminate based on someone’s sex or race, sexual orientation is becoming more protected too,” she said. ‘I’d like size to become a protected class.” So fat acceptance is fair enough, right?
While we applaud Ms. Pause’s efforts to combat sizeism and bullying via fat acceptance, we need to point out a lot of problems with her thinking in terms of physical health. In terms of being physically healthy, fat acceptance lacks fact acceptance. Ms. Pause (and many other fat acceptance advocates) disagrees with years of documented medical studies showing that obesity is deadly (it’s linked to heart disease, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and a slew of other scary stuff). And while we’re stoked that more people are embracing themselves as they are, fat acceptance may be a dangerous message if you’re severely overweight, because it may prevent people who actually are sick from getting help that they need to lose weight and get healthier. Plus, it might be sending a bad message to kids who still have time to create lifelong healthy habits.
An ideal body image isn’t necessarily thin, nor is it super sized. In a perfect world, the ideal body image would be of your body at its healthiest. And that’s not something Cat Pause, the fat acceptance movement, nor any fashion mag can determine for you. It’s something you need to talk over with your doctor. Your ideal body image isn’t determined by a number on a scale nor by how your jeans fit. Your body image should be determined how you feel, inside and out.
Are you overweight? Do you think the fat acceptance movement is healthy or damaging? Do you deal with body image issues? Tell us in the comments!