A concern I hear from time to time is that by promoting a weight stabilizing, non judge mental, and body positive model of recovery I am encouraging unhealthy lifestyles and promoting obesity. Most of the time the criticism comes from people who know very little about body positivity and are still deep in their eating disorder or in diet culture denial. They just somehow ~*know~* there must be something wrong with people being happy, even if they’re fat…
“Promoting obesity” implies that the goal of recovery and body positivity is to actively encourage everyone in the world to get fatter. The thing is, that is not a message I’ve ever heard or said. There is no one body type being promoted as the only way to be happy, recovered, or confident. The idea is simply that however your body looks, you are good enough. You are worthy of respect, happiness, and love. You are allowed to exist contently in that body. You do not have to waste your life forcing yourself into a different size to be worthy, you already are when you are at whatever size allows you to be free from your eating disorder and mentally at peace. That’s it.
The real issue of the promoting obesity argument is of course about “health”. It’s about the culturally engrained assumption that fat equals unhealthy. There is so much wrong with that assumption. First of all, you truly cannot tell a person’s health from just looking at them. You just can’t. You are not their doctor. You do not know their life. It is unfair and incorrect to assume that just because someone doesn’t fit into a societally ideal body that means they are automatically sick. Also, thinking that shaming someone with very thinly veiled faux concern will have a positive effect on their health is ludicrous. Even if you could tell someone’s entire medical history from looking at them, how does dehumanizing, humiliating and shaming them help? Mental health is just as important as physical. Recovery and body positivity communities do not “promote obesity”, we stand at the frontlines of deconstructing the idea that not being thin automatically makes someone ill or bad. Instead let’s all focus on being more empathetic and kind human beings who accept that some of us are naturally large, some are naturally slim, and some are in the middle – but that the most important concern is that we are happy. Because guess what? Everyone no matter what their size, is worthy of respect.
Fat people are allowed to exist. We live in a society that promotes a certain body type as the key to beauty, happiness, respect and self love. Just because the media portrays that though, doesn’t make it true. The reality is there is no weight gain industry selling pills, lollipops, teas, apps, or surgeries to be fat. Instead thinness is promoted and sold to us by the diet industry as the only way to be worth something. I am trying along with the body positive movement to change that narrative. We are not “promoting obesity” we are promoting happiness. I’m promoting the radical idea that you have permission to love yourself at a bigger size if it means you can be mentally freed from the prison of your eating disorder or of diet culture.
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