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Body positivity is a movement that aims to promote self-love, body acceptance, and inclusivity for all body types, regardless of shape, size, or color. It seeks to challenge societal norms and beauty standards, prioritizing thinness and conventional beauty ideals. The body positivity movement emphasizes that all bodies are valuable and worthy of respect and acceptance and encourages individuals to embrace their bodies as they are.

The body positivity movement can be problematic and contribute to the issue of obesity. The body positivity movement suggests that promoting body acceptance and positive self-image is essential. Still, it is equally important to recognize and address the health consequences of obesity and other health conditions. Many argue that the movement ignores the potential health consequences of obesity can contribute to a cycle of unhealthy behavior and poor health outcomes.

Fat shaming is a harmful and discriminatory practice that involves criticizing, mocking, or stigmatizing individuals based on their body size or weight. Research suggests that fat shaming can negatively affect individuals’ mental health and contribute to obesity rather than helping individuals lose weight. Fat shaming can lead to a negative self-image, poor self-esteem, and avoidance of exercise, contributing to weight gain and obesity. It can also cause stress and increase cortisol levels, contributing to weight gain and obesity.

The issue of body positivity, fat shaming, and obesity is complex and multifaceted. While promoting body acceptance and inclusivity is essential, it is also important to recognize the potential health consequences of obesity and to promote a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management. Fat shaming is ineffective in addressing obesity and can actually contribute to the problem. Instead, promoting body positivity, inclusivity, and a holistic approach to health that emphasizes physical, mental, and emotional well-being is the way to help obesity in America.

What is Fat Shaming

Fat shaming is a pervasive problem in our society that involves stigmatizing and discriminating against individuals who are overweight or obese. It can take many forms, including negative comments about someone’s weight, teasing, bullying, and exclusion from social activities. Fat shaming is often perpetuated by social media, advertising, and entertainment industries that promote unrealistic beauty standards and equate thinness with beauty, success, and happiness.

Fat shaming can have severe consequences for individuals’ mental and physical health. It can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction and increase the risk of developing eating disorders. In addition, fat shaming can lead to social isolation, discrimination, and reduced access to employment, healthcare, and education. 

Fat shaming can also affect children and adolescents, who may experience bullying, teasing, and social exclusion, leading to lower academic performance and an increased risk of obesity and other health problems later in life.

To combat fat shaming, it is crucial to promote body positivity and acceptance and to recognize that everyone has a unique body shape and size. Body positivity includes celebrating diverse body types and challenging negative stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards. 

It also involves creating a more inclusive society where people of all sizes are valued and respected, and discrimination based on body size is not tolerated. By promoting body positivity and acceptance, we can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with obesity and promote a healthier, more inclusive society.

Why Fat Shaming can KEEP People Obese

Fat shaming is a harmful and discriminatory practice that involves criticizing, mocking, or stigmatizing individuals based on their body size or weight. Research suggests that fat shaming can negatively affect individuals’ mental health and contribute to obesity rather than helping individuals lose weight. Here are some ways in which fat shaming can contribute to obesity:

Negative Self-Image

Fat shaming can lead to a negative self-image and poor self-esteem, contributing to a cycle of emotional eating and other unhealthy behaviors. These are often the very same behaviors an obese person is trying to avoid. 

Avoiding Exercise

Fat-shamed individuals may avoid exercise due to fear of judgment or harassment, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Many are taking to social media for support and sharing their terrible experiences of being obese and going to the gym. The irony is that gyms were not just made for physically fit people. Gyms should be accessible to all, especially those needing to utilize them. If an obese person experiences so much shame or is even physically or emotionally harmed, this will deter them from necessary exercise that could help with their obesity. 

Disordered eating

Fat shaming can also contribute to disordered eating behaviors, such as binge eating or restrictive eating, contributing to weight gain and obesity. The goal of addressing obesity in America is not to change one eating disorder for another. Fat shaming can lead someone to utilize eating disorder behaviors to get “healthy.” When in fact, they are just swapping one addiction for the next. 

Stress and Cortisol

Fat shaming can cause stress and increase cortisol levels, contributing to weight gain and obesity. This is a cycle anyone can stay in for a long time, not just someone who is obese. For someone who is obese, though, having high levels of cortisol make it extremely hard to burn fat. 

In addition to the negative effects on mental health and behavior, fat shaming is also based on harmful stereotypes and assumptions about body size and weight. It reinforces the idea that individuals who are overweight or obese are lazy, lacking in self-control, or unhealthy, which is not always the case. 

It also ignores the complex and multi-factorial causes of obesity, which include genetics, environment, and socio-economic factors. Fat shaming is ineffective in addressing obesity and can actually contribute to the problem. 

What is the Body Positivity Movement 

The body positivity movement is a social and cultural movement that promotes the acceptance and appreciation of all body types and encourages individuals to have a positive body image. The movement seeks to challenge societal norms and beauty standards, prioritizing thinness and conventional beauty ideals.

The body positivity movement emphasizes that all bodies are valuable and worthy of respect and acceptance, regardless of shape, size, color, or ability. It encourages individuals to embrace their bodies as they are rather than strive for an unrealistic or unattainable ideal.

The movement began as a response to the unrealistic beauty standards promoted by the media and fashion industries, which can contribute to negative body image, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. The body positivity movement seeks to challenge these standards and promote a more inclusive and accepting culture.

The movement has gained momentum in recent years through social media platforms, with hashtags such as #bodypositivity, #bodypositive, and #effyourbeautystandards being used to share stories and images of diverse bodies. The movement has also led to the emergence of body-positive brands and campaigns that promote inclusive and diverse representations of bodies in advertising and media.

The body positivity movement aims to promote self-love, acceptance, and inclusivity and challenge the harmful beauty standards that can contribute to negative body image and mental health issues. However, some criticize the movement and suspect that the movement fails to recognize the implications obesity can have on one’s health. 

Aspects of the Body Positivity Movement Promoting Obesity 

Some criticisms of the body positivity movement suggest that it can be problematic and does not address the potential health consequences of obesity. Some of these criticisms include:

  1. Promoting Obesity: Some critics argue that the body positivity movement can promote obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle by suggesting that all body types are equally healthy. They argue that this can send a message that being overweight or obese is not a health concern when it is associated with an increased risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  2. Ignoring Health Consequences: Some critics argue that the body positivity movement focuses too much on body image and not enough on health. They suggest that promoting body acceptance and positive self-image is essential, but it is equally important to recognize and address the health consequences of obesity and other health conditions.
  3. Excluding Certain Body Types: Some critics argue that the body positivity movement can be exclusive and only represent certain body types, such as curvy or plus-size bodies while ignoring other body types, such as those with disabilities or medical conditions that affect their body shape.
  4. Reinforcing Beauty Standards: Some critics argue that the body positivity movement can reinforce beauty standards by suggesting that all bodies are beautiful, rather than challenging the idea that beauty should be the primary focus of self-worth.

While the body positivity movement has been criticized for these reasons, it has also helped promote inclusivity, diversity, and body acceptance. It has helped to challenge harmful beauty standards and promote a more inclusive and accepting culture. However, the movement needs to simultaneously recognize the potential health consequences of obesity and promote both body acceptance and a healthy lifestyle. It should not be one or the other. 

Tess Holiday 

Tess Holliday is a plus-size model and body positivity advocate who has gained significant attention and controversy for her influence on the movement. While Holliday has been praised for promoting body acceptance and inclusivity, she has also been criticized for promoting an unhealthy lifestyle and being a poor role model for young people. Here are some points of controversy surrounding Holliday and her influence on the body positivity movement:

  1. Promotion of an Unhealthy Lifestyle: Some critics argue that Holliday’s size and weight promote an unhealthy lifestyle and send a dangerous message to young people. They argue that obesity is associated with health risks such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke and that promoting a larger body size as desirable or healthy can be harmful. Tess Holiday only focuses on accepting herself as a morbidly obese person. She never mentions the complications of being morbidly obese or the health complications she could face. Holiday also does not promote a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising and eating nutritious foods that nourish your body. 
  2. Lack of Diversity: While Holliday is praised for promoting body acceptance and inclusivity, some critics argue that she does not represent the full diversity of body types and shapes. They argue that the body positivity movement should include a wider range of body types, including those with disabilities or medical conditions that affect their body shape.
  3. Influence on Young People: Some critics argue that Holliday’s effect on young people can be harmful. It can promote an unhealthy body image and contribute to adverse health outcomes such as obesity and disordered eating.
  4. Commercialization of the Movement: Some critics argue that Holliday’s involvement in the fashion and beauty industries has led to the commercialization of the body positivity movement, with companies using the campaign to promote their products rather than genuinely promoting inclusivity and diversity.
  5. Monetizing Obesity: Holiday is a paid plus-size model. She is paid to be obese therefore, why would she have any motivation to lose weight? That is not to say she wouldn’t or couldn’t have a career as a straight-sized model, and it is rare in the industry to see a model switch. Plus, Holiday has built her entire brand on her body and, more specifically, the size of it. 

Pros of the Body-Positive Movement 

The body-positive movement is a social movement that aims to empower individuals, regardless of their body size, shape, or appearance. The movement advocates for body acceptance and self-love instead of societal pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. 

Embrace Your Body

One of the main benefits of the body-positive movement is that it helps people embrace their bodies as they are and feel more confident in their skin. This can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being.

Inclusive and Diverse

Additionally, the body-positive movement promotes inclusivity and diversity, a positive step toward reducing discrimination and promoting a more accepting society. 

It challenges the notion that there is only one “ideal” body type and, instead, celebrates different shapes, sizes, and appearances. Challenging this notion can lead to greater self-esteem and improved body image for individuals who may feel marginalized or excluded based on appearance.

Healthy Lifestyles

The body-positive movement successfully promotes healthier behaviors without resorting to diet culture or shame. Instead of fostering extreme weight loss or “perfect” bodies, the campaign encourages individuals to prioritize self-care and wellness. Self-care means listening to your body’s needs, eating nourishing foods, and engaging in good physical activity rather than punishing or harmful. The body-positive movement promotes a more sustainable and holistic approach to well-being by focusing on health rather than appearance.

The Cons of the Body-Positive Movement

Like any other social movement, the body-positive movement has faced criticism and challenges. One of the most common criticisms of the body-positive movement is that it promotes and normalizes unhealthy behaviors and lifestyles. Critics argue that the campaign encourages people to accept and celebrate obesity, which can have serious health consequences. They also say that promoting the acceptance of an unhealthy body image can harm young people, who may view obesity as a desirable or acceptable lifestyle.

Another criticism of the body-positive movement is that it is exclusive and does not promote diversity or inclusion. Some critics argue that the movement only celebrates a specific body type, often white and conventionally attractive, and ignores the experiences of people of color, disabled people, and others who do not fit into society’s narrow beauty standards. This can lead to feelings of exclusion and further marginalization for those who do not fit into these narrow categories.

Social Media and the Body-Positive Movement

Most of the body-positive movement is unfolding on social media apps and online, along with big brands getting on board and monetizing the movement. A lot of people who are experiencing fat shaming are also flocking to not only social media but the body-positive movement, specifically seeking support. 

Everyone deserves to be accepted and to have the appropriate support for what they are going through. However, the body positivity movement rarely focuses on the health implications of being in obese body. There should be a dialectic of body acceptance and support in changing to a healthier lifestyle. Hating oneself or fat shaming will not help someone trying to lose weight. Finding love and acceptance for oneself and being willing to change will. 

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About The Author

Julie Johansson

Educated in Criminal Justice and a true crime junkie. Former mall cop, fur mom and women's rights advocate. I am trying to engage in more important topics and writing is how I connect with my community and the world.

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