An Important Message In The Body Positive Mov’t: “Fat” Doesn’t Necessarily Mean “Unhealthy”

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We love the body positive movement! There are so many conversations that have been started regarding perceptions around body ideals, and despite the many divisive opinions, the fact that it is no longer taboo to be talking about the acceptance of all bodies is a good thing.

However, when it comes to the attitudes around the word “fat”, we still have a long way to go. Why is being fat considered one of the worst adjectives? Why do we use the word as such a damning phrase? What happened if we chose to flip the script and instead of look at fat, or curvy, or plus size, as something incredibly negative, and simply a way to describe a form, would it allow society to be more accepting of different body types?

There have been a number of women speaking up as part of the body positive movement in an attempt to break down stigma. Model Tess Holliday has been one of the most vocal (and certainly most polarizing figures) who is a badass at telling her haters that she loves her body the way she is, and that her size is not necessarily an indicator of her health.

The popular line used by many critics that being healthy means you have to be one particular size, or that fat people should automatically be considered non-athletic was completely shut down in this epic video made by Penningtons, showing a woman doing various yoga postures while text displaying all the common lines such as “plus size women have no balance” and “they’re too heavy to lift themselves” are shown.

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Sadly, it is going to take many more voices continuing to turn the tide for society to finally accept that looking at a person’s body size from the outside is not an indicator of their health inside. Body image expert, speaker, author and trainer Louise Green recently gave a compelling TEDx Talk explaining her own struggle feeling like she could never be considered athletic or sporty because of her size.

“Until this point, I didn’t know that bigger bodies could also be athletic bodies. It had never occurred to me, because it had never been shown to me,” she said, describing how much she doubted she could ever run a marathon simply because she had no idea a plus size woman was capable of doing it.

During the time she was training for a 5k, she was surprised when meeting her trainer for the first time because she was a plus size woman just like her, but the standard narrative from images we see surrounding fitness are not plus size at all.

“She was everything I had been looking for for many years. This was the first time I’d seen a woman of size as a runner, and certainly the first time I’d seen a woman of size in fitness leadership. Suddenly, my fear and anxiety melted away because for once, I was amongst someone who looked like me,” she says in the video below.

Louise has a new book called ‘Limitless’, which was also the title of her TEDx Talk, where she sought to expand the visual and cerebral definition of what it looks like to see a body do great and athletic things. She says that although our bodies are amazing things, the media has done a darn good job of making us think otherwise, largely based on our size.

“The human body has limitless capabilities and will do anything we train it to do. However our minds are more complex. Our minds generally take hold of what we see. We’ve all heard the saying ‘seeing is believing’, but what if you can’t see yourself? When I realized that my body was virtually invisible in the mass media landscape before me I interpreted this as uninvited. And that athletic victory is not within my possibility. But today, I know different,” she says triumphantly.

But you don’t have to be training for a 5k or be involved in any sort of competitive sports to understand that if you happen to be curvy, you are still accepted, loved and normal. That your body is not an anomaly nor is it “wrong”. British model Olivia Campbell was recently interviewed by the New York-based Style Like U ‘What’s Underneath’ series where they ask a woman various questions around body image and ask her to take off one piece of clothing after each answer. We have shared a number of these videos as they are such a badass and powerful exhibit of shedding insecurities while sharing how the subject came to a better understanding of what it means to accept and love themselves.

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In the video, which is part of their London series, Olivia is adamant that she has no problem calling herself fat, as opposed to the more socially acceptable term plus size. But it took her a while to come to that place of acceptance.

“For me fat’s not a bad thing. I am fat. Like, I am fat. It’s just a descriptive word. [But] for years it was the worst thing you could say to me…It was something I couldn’t change, and I tried to change, because I was told to change. Why is it such a bad word? How dare you be fat and happy,” she recalls about how she came to viewing the word differently.

Olivia goes on to describe how she was bullied for her size and appearance growing up in school, and it is heartbreaking to see her start to tear up by recounting this experience. She would get harassed, touched inappropriately by men who would accost and abuse her on the street, and the bullying got so bad she ended up leaving school and leaving the area she lived in. She even thought about committing suicide. She was only 15. If there is evidence of why the body positive movement is important, Olivia’s story is it.

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After finding out her mother had cancer, and losing another family member to the same disease, it made Olivia realize how important her family was to her and how important she was to them. The fact that she is sharing her story and using her own experience to break down stigma around size is so important, especially because there are still so many women and men who do not have the voice to speak out or the access to resources and role models to help them feel valued.

“We allow ourselves to be dictated to by everybody else. It’s really easy to become resigned to the fact that this is who you are because of what you’ve been told, or who you’ve been told that you are: you are useless, you are an outcast, you are weird, you are different,” she said.

If we are to fundamentally and radically continue the movement toward body acceptance and complete body positivity, we need to strip away the existing perceptions around the word “fat”. These are just two women speaking up, there are many many more. We need to stop automatically putting fat into the “unhealthy” or “not beautiful” categories. We are all on a journey to better ourselves but it should not be led from a place of hate. The more we can love our bodies, the better off we all will be.


 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: EVERYONE IS OKAY | My Infinite Balance

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