Health matters most

Since 1996, the body positivity movement has made its mark in history. Different body types, mainly the big and the small, have been pushed to be normalized and accepted among society. The movement’s intention is to empower women of all shapes and sizes, no matter their weight.

One of the staples of the movement is to essentially promote and romanticize different body shapes and sizes, especially people who are overweight, who would otherwise be discouraged or ridiculed. While I’m all for reducing people’s insecurities, and instead loving themselves, I can’t help but notice how this movement, in the name of helping people “accept themselves,”is causing them to ignore their health.

Self-empowerment is great, ignoring your health is not. Tessa Holiday, a size 22 model and founder of the #effyourbeautystandards campaign is one of the many known faces of the body positivity movement. Holiday once tweeted, “If you want someone to preach health over self-love, I’m not your girl.” This woman perfectly demonstrates what is wrong with this movement — it’s unfortunate that she’s a public figure, because she’s spreading around these ideals to the many who look up to her.

Another problem with the body positivity movement is that it only celebrates certain body types. By this, I mean that usually those who are overweight will be celebrated, but only if they have a “curvy” body, meaning a thin waist with big thighs and bust; additionally, those who tend to be on the smaller spectrum are completely disregarded, i.e., their problems are dismissed because they are perceived to not go through the same struggles that overweight people do.

On top of mostly celebrating larger body types and ignoring skinny ones, they also rarely acknowledge bodies that are disabled, disproportionate, or are just different looking. I can’t name a single instance where I have seen someone in a wheelchair, or on crutches, or have a disability in any way on social media being made to feel better about themselves through the body positivity movement. Not including those with these body types allows them to be disregarded and looked at in a negative light.

One thing I have noticed, though, and I’m glad it has begun to become more prominent, is the encouragement of self love for different races and skin tones. Two years ago it seemed as if this movement only applied to white women. Now, I see a lot of posts about people starting to love and feel comfortable with their skin tone, eye shape, nose shape, hair type, and the many other features from different ethnicities.
The movement should not only be for women.

Men are conditioned to think that they are unattractive if they’re not tall or built. And for some reason, it’s socially acceptable to criticize men for being short, whereas if it were to be encouraged to make fun of women’s weight, there would be an uproar. Men feel discouraged about themselves too, and these problems don’t only pertain to women.

The body positivity movement has pure intentions but poor understanding and interpretation by many. Yes, love of self should always be encouraged. Yes, people should be allowed to feel confident and beautiful in their skin, no matter how big, small, tall or short they are. Love of self is not a good thing when it when it ignores health. If one claims to love their body, they should take care of it and strive to be as healthy as they can be.