Today’s post is one that I’ve thought about writing, probably, a hundred times. The only reason I’ve put it off is I knew it would be a bit lengthy & take a bit of time to write (to write well, at least). Also, this is the kind of post that could be misunderstood very easily. I ask that you read carefully as I have written this carefully so as not to be misunderstood.
The world I am living in, today, as a 26-year old is much different than it was when I was a 16-year old. You see, I have always been overweight. I was incredibly mistreated & bullied as a kid. That bullying never inspired me to lose weight. For me, an emotional eater, it only made things worse.
On top of that, I didn’t know how to lose weight. “Just diet & exercise” are the most vague instructions in the entire world. It’s the equivalent of saying, “just fix your car,” when you’ve never even been taught how to pop the hood. The food pyramid & gym class dodge ball didn’t teach me about calories & basal metabolic rates (google it).
Now that I am older & more knowledgeable (from my own research, still not from the food pyramid or gym class dodge ball), I am trying to be healthier & lose weight. It’s a lengthy process of reversing bad habits & changing my attitude about a lot of stuff but I am getting there slowly, but surely. But beneath the weight loss, I am also dealing with a lot of major emotional issues.
When you grew up being bullied about your appearance the way I was, you learn that your worth as a person is directly tied to your appearance. My reasonable side knows that this isn’t true. But subconsciously, that idea is embedded in me & rears its ugly head a lot.
There are a lot of things that I just don’t do because I have a voice that tells me I’m not worthy of doing them or that I will be judged or made fun of for doing them. I am trying to overcome that. I also tend to assume that everyone around me is secretly making fun of me for my weight or appearance. It’s really not an illogical assumption to make when that’s what your childhood experiences had taught you.
So now that you know where I stand within this issue, you can probably see why it makes me really happy to see, what I would call, a movement happening in society. I love that there are larger people who are putting themselves on the Internet & television & saying, “hey, I’m happy & beautiful as I am.”
On top of those people speaking for themselves, we are also now living in a society where other people defend them. Do a google search for “dancing man.” That was a situation where a video of a heavy guy dancing went viral on the Internet & he got made fun of for being heavy. A trending hash tag, #FindDancingMan, went viral on Twitter. When the Internet found out who this man was, a bunch of ladies got together & threw a dance party for him.
Stories like that just didn’t happen when I was a kid. Making fun of people like “dancing man” & of kids like me was the “cool thing to do.” Bullying still happens today, just as much as it did back then, I’m sure. But today it feels like there is just as much backlash toward bullying. Body shaming was never okay but now we live in a society where people are brave & educated enough to step up & say it’s not okay.
I recently read a post by another blogger (I don’t plan to mention their name because it’s really not important) expressing their views on the body positivity movement. They said right off the bat that they were not in support of fat shaming & didn’t want to offend anyone. They went on to talk about a 10-year-old girl named Caitlin Finley who weighs over 200 pounds & wants to weigh 500 pounds by age 30. Why? She wants to be one of the most successful BBW (stands for big beautiful women) models. The blogger, in a roundabout way, blamed this girl’s situation on the body positivity movement.
The expression, “face palm,” comes to mind here for two reasons. Of course the situation with Caitlin Finley is absolutely absurd. No child should be purposefully gaining weight & no parent should be allowing that to happen. Someone needs to step in & correct that situation (if they haven’t already). But the fact that this blogger was using this as an example of the body positivity movement is also absurd.
In case the name of my blog didn’t give it away, I am a body positivity & self confidence blogger. I blog about my struggles with my own self confidence in hopes that it may help other people dealing with the same issues. But I also blog about health, weight loss, healthy eating, & exercise. I think you’ll find that the majority of us who preach body positivity also preach about living a healthy life & making healthy changes.
There is no direct correlation between being positive about your body or having self confidence & wanting to be unhealthy or overweight. If I tell you that the fact that you are “fat” does not mean that you can’t wear a bikini, I am telling you that the fact that you are “fat” does not mean that you can’t wear a bikini. I am not encouraging you to be overweight.
Before anyone leaves a comment saying that you can be fat & healthy at the same time, that’s not the point I am making. Whether or not that’s true is between you & your doctor. I’m not getting into that because without seeing & understanding an individual’s health records, I don’t know anything about whether they are healthy, fat or not.
Ultimately, the point I am trying to get to is we who preach body positivity & self confidence are not condoning situations like Caitlin Finley. What Caitlin is aiming to be a part of is the BBW community which, in a lot of cases, is a fetish community. She, as a child, doesn’t understand this, I’m sure. But a search for BBW will take you to a lot of “not safe for work” web sites where men will pay to see women wearing very little clothing & eating on camera for their sexual pleasure.
This is not always the case. Some women identify with the term BBW to mean simply what it means, big beautiful woman. They are not purposefully gaining weight or doing anything to feed into any sort of fetish. That is not the same thing at all but you can see how all of this can become very confusing.
When I say “love your body,” I am not saying don’t do anything to change it. If you’re unhealthy & unhappy, making positive change is a part of loving your body. But also, you can’t give yourself ultimatums like “If you do not lose weight, I will never love you.” You can’t live your life being unhappy until you lose weight. That, to me, is what the body positivity & self confidence movement of today’s society is about.
When I come across people who label themselves as anti body positive, it only makes me angry that they just don’t get it. They preach that we shouldn’t be encouraging people to be fat & unhealthy but that’s never what this has been about. You can accept yourself for who you are & be happy today, as you are or you can live a life of self-loathing until you’re thinner & maybe that day will never come. Who would want a person to hate themselves?
I feel like I’ve thrown an awful lot of thoughts at you so allow me to summarize them. I know what it’s like to hate yourself. I don’t wish it on anyone. Therefore, I am in support of anything that can help people love themselves. This dos not mean I endorse being or purposefully becoming overweight. The two ideas are not automatically synonymous.
I am glad to be living in a society that is beginning to wake up to the fact that making fun of someone for being fat is just as awful as making fun of someone for their race, religion, gender, etc. I support those who preach body positivity & self confidence. I support people who say, “your worth is not determined by your appearance.”
I wish I had been told the same thing as a kid but since you can’t change the past, we can concentrate on the future. in case no one has said it to you today, your worth is not determined by your appearance. And your beauty is measured beyond the number on the scale.