I think it is really important for me to explore some information, thoughts and opinions about weight. I really like Iweigh– Jameela Jamil, this is an amazing community about learning and self love, knowledge and learning to be better- not physically but within ourselves. The body positivity ideology kicked off in the 1960’s, focused around the end of fat shaming and discrimination that comes with it, but it didn’t become a full fledged movement until 2012. Body positivity is meant to be about loving a body, regardless of its shape or size, whether it is deemed ‘acceptable’ by media outlets or not. This movement highlighted how much the industry profits off telling women (and men) that they are not good enough if they don’t have x, y or z. It is a multimillion dollar/pound industry. With body positivity, whilst the concept in itself is great, not everyone has the capacity to love their bodies for whatever reason, or the desire too.
Stephanie Yeboah was part of that movement, she is an inspirational woman and quite amazing! She was quoted in an artical written by the Guardian, where she explained that she felt the movement had been co-opted: “It has become a buzzword, it has alienated the very people who created it. Now, in order to be body positive, you have to be acceptably fat – size 16 and under, or white or very pretty. It’s not a movement that I feel represents me any more.” Within the same article, Rebekah Taussig, made this valuable comment: “The body positive movement doesn’t put people with disabilities and other marginalised bodies into the foreground. Body neutrality, I think, has the power to be really useful in particular to people with disabilities, especially those with chronic pain or people with diagnoses that are progressive. Those people are pretty frustrated with the demand to love their bodies when they feel betrayed by them. Being neutral could feel like a relief.” The Female Lead wrote an article about body neutrality and I felt this sentence summed it up nicely: ‘Our bodies keep us alive and we are destroying them to look a specific way’.
Stephanie Yeboah looks at one of the biggest criticisms when it comes to the movement of ‘fat acceptance’ which she moves towards, which is peoples concern around the health of a fat person. She feels this ‘concern’ is just a tool for fat phobia and is not a genuine concern at all. She speaks about the fact that the one and only time she has been admitted to hospital for being fat, it is because she was beaten up because she was fat. How shocking and awful is that? Why does anyone see a fat person and feel such hatred? I truely could have cried when I read that, I am not a bad person because I carry extra adipose tissue, I am not a threat to anyone. Our physcial beings are just a house for our insides, for our hearts and brains to be protected, the outside doesn’t say anything about the inside. I have perfect blood results, I am healthy internally, my body is incredible, I am sure there are plenty of thin people who are worse internally than I am. Stephanie Yeboah rounds off the comments about fat acceptance by clarifying: “We’re not promoting obesity, or telling people to be fat, we’re just saying, if you’re fat you don’t have to hate yourself.”
If we look at the This Girl Can campaign, it is amazing in its simplicity and inclusivity. This campaign was born due to many women not wanting to be active or get active, due to a fear of judgement. The campaign points out that the judgements can be from many different areas in life, fear of judgement over size, looks, taking time out for self, not being with children or family and a general feeling of not being good enough. I think this campaign and its use of real women, and by that I mean women of every shape, size, colour, religeon and fitness level, is inspiring. It doesn’t judge anyone, thin or fat, fit to unfit, althete to complete beginner. It is a celebration of how wonderful our bodies are and how enjoyable being active can be if we find our own thing.
So, even though I am looking at reducing my body size, it is not because I despise fat people, I follow many amazing fat women on instagram and do not judge them. If anything I am envious that they can feel so comfortable in their own skin, what a wonderful way to feel. My personal journey is to seek that, I asked the Dietician I see why I can’t be a happy, comfortable fat person. She answered, all the things that make you uncomfortable are daily experiences and that is why. That is valid and it is my personal experience, but I do not judge plus sized people, I envy them as I might envy slim people. I don’t want the steering wheel to dig into my tummy when I drive, which will happen soon if I carry on growing, plus I feel my eating is out of control. Rather than a thing I do for pure pleasure, it is a coping mechanism.
I think that this piece is valuable at this time as there are lots of derogatory and judgemental comments about weight gain during the pandemic, and of course because Christmas is coming, wouldn’t it be nice to just enjoy ourselves without judgement and the anxieties that this can bring?