History of body positivity
History of body positivity goes back as far as almost two centuries, precisely about 1850s-1890 when Victorian dress reform movement started. A century after that the New York radio host Steve Post in 1967 held a “fat-in” at Central Park. As per him purpose of the event “was to protest discrimination against the fat.”
‘Body positivity‘ per say came into existence as a part of fat acceptance movement which started in late 1960s. This movement essentially wanted to end the culture of fat shaming and discrimination against over weight people. The disorganized movement later institutionalized with the establishment of National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) in 1969. Till 1996 there was no term like ‘body positive‘ in mainstream media or in conversational language. 1996 is the same year when Connie Sobczak (author of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!)), and Elizabeth Scott (psychotherapist) founded thebodypositive.org
Body positivity in modern days
The current form of body positivity was conjured by feminist movement at around 2012 where the focus shifted from health, and positivity to the equivocal message “all bodies are beautiful“. In the mean time multiple definitions from several self proclaimed experts emerged and the focus was driven further away from health and positivity to convincing everyone that ‘fat is beautiful’.
With so many interpretation ‘body positivity ‘ seem to have taken a detour from it’s real meaning as well as intentions.
The Picture on the left is Jag tänker på mig själv – Växjö ( ‘I am thinking of myself – Växjö’) outside of the art museum of Växjö, Sweden which displays a thin and a fat woman to demonstrate obsession of modern society over how we look. The second image on the right is ‘Yolanda‘ built by Miriam Lenk and is suppose to be the icon of female self-confidence.
Now the problem is that these sculptures completely disregards physical health aspects of quality life. It is not so difficult to understand that when an individual is either extremely scrawny or obese it literally threatens that person’s well being, and in long run his/her very existence. Note that, instilling someone who is actually unhealthy with the idea that only accepting his/her illness would change everything is not only faulty but detrimental to that person’s well being. As long as there is a slightest change that said illness (obesity in this case) can be cured with proportional efforts, it is rather inhuman to promote an unsustainable and crippling lifestyle.
Health vs Obesity
Healthy behaviors include regular physical activity and healthy eating. Balancing the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories the body uses for activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americansexternal icon recommends adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. In addition, adults need to do activities that strengthen muscles at least 2 days a week.(CDC, USA)
It should be obvious by now that obesity is not mere a social norm as feminism advocates it to be but a clinically recognized serious health condition which significantly deteriorates the person’s quality of life.
These are just few of the many health risks an obese person carries.
- All-causes of death (mortality)
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease Stroke
(For more refer: The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity)
To whom the body positivity applies?
Body Positivity is for any person who is suffering from any type of deformity, impairment or mental and/or physical condition which is medically out of his/her control (not an excuse for laziness or lack of motivation) should consciously accept his/her body, practice and master to feel good about his/herself while utilizing the highest potential his/her physical and mental abilities can bestow.
- Burn victims
- Genetically obese
- Cancer survivors
….and may more.
Unless you have a medical condition and/or a disorder which is completely incurable, giving up on your health and accepting obesity could be fatal and might reduce quality of your remaining life while shortening it significantly. Remember, striving for better health, eating consciously, and doing regular exercise would not only improve your physical but even mental health. A body which is so heavy that it restricts your movement is less likely to you a free and full spirited life.
A handicap person can certainly live a happy life but if that person has the luxury to choose not to be handicap he/she could defiantly add a lot more to his/her life. Similarly, when obesity is just because of unhealthy habits, we suggest you to choose not to be crippled by it.
A healthy, exiting, and long life awaits you.
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