Body acceptance is not always the pure opposite of body shaming, and body acceptance is not the same as self-love.
I’m an in complete support of loving and respecting our own and each other’s bodies. That being said, I think some — not all — ideas of the body acceptance movement have taken the mission to an unhealthy place, one that supports gluttonous over-eating and the mistreatment of people’s bodies. It is this part of the body acceptance movement that is regressive, and it is this part that I would like to discuss.
Insulting someone solely because of their physical condition is never acceptable. But condoning extremely unhealthy and unnecessary behavior, and its physical repercussions that have largely been the main focus as of late, is wrong. Praising unhealthy behavior as a societal group makes this even more dangerous.
Body acceptance is not the same as self-love. When you love someone, you want to take care of them and provide for them the best you can. The same goes for loving oneself.
As time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to separate body positivity from the unhealthy choices that have infiltrated areas of the movement. In no way am I saying we should police anyone based on the way they look to us. I am saying, however, that we need to address issues of health at large rather than focusing so much attention on some of obesity’s outward effects, and move societal thinking towards the root of the problem.
Our country is suffering as a result of the vast amounts of processed, preserved, sugar-stuffed foods, and we will be taking a step backwards if we fuel that fire further.
The focus should not be on the way people look. The focus should be on how they treat themselves, how they feel and how we all function and respect each other in society. Obesity doesn’t just make people outwardly overweight, it affects people in far more substantial ways. Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, causes high blood pressure, inflammation, metabolic syndrome, often causes diabetes, causes trouble with blood-fat levels, such as higher triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol), and is also associated with sleep apnea. This is what needs to be the focus. This is where our nation needs to redirect its attention to.
The goal of the movement should be to match pleasure and self-love with healthy behavior, and, hopefully, end up in a place where healthy behavior brings pleasure.
If someone truly wants to eat 10 times more than they should each day for whatever reason, then I won’t try to stop them. But I do want to see resources and support for people who wish to be healthier, rather that applauds for their physique, under which lies unfortunate and abundant health risks.
Let’s bring attention to the main culprit of the obesity epidemic: the food industry. Packaged, processed, low-nutrient foods are the bane of our country. The obesity epidemic is a direct result of these unhealthy foods, which make us crave more, because they lack actual nutrients that our bodies need.
Though it is unpleasant to know your body isn’t healthy, it’s incredibly important to be aware of. Discomfort within the body is fundamentally the body’s way of telling the brain there is something wrong.
Body shaming, fat shaming, disability shaming are not OK. Racial, gender and birth defect discrimination are not OK. And last but not least, it is not okay to promote unhealthy habits as a society, as a industry or bussiness, as a community or as an individual.