Here’s where HER story starts…
WHY THE MOVEMENT CAN BE TRASH (FOR SOME OF US)
At the risk of being publicly and personally crucified for this opinion, I will speak my immediate and deeply held reaction to the body positivity movement: In some ways, it’s just straight trash (for certain people).
Tumblr has been the downfall of my generation, and as someone who is currently little more than a serf in this Great Tauped Kingdom that is passing as a democracy, that is saying something–quick shout out to the society that promotes disposable Mac technology and five years applicable job experience, while also leaving the recent educated dregs of society in a gutter of student debt and inferiority complexes. As long as this drain system has WiFi, we should be fine.
Ready Your Pitchforks
Tumblr is used for two things, as far as I am concerned: self-denial and porn. Though there are some fetishes that indulge both, this is not that kind of column. Instead, I’m here to note how the body-positivity movement, that was largely cultivated and promoted on Tumblr, has bothered me from the beginning with some unyielding piety and assumptions of self-worth.
The vague concept of “body-positivity” is not something I shame. It is good to have a generally optimistic outlook on yourself. As someone who has seldom fallen in the “ideal” body form we see in doctors’ offices, I am aware of the shortcomings with my figure. But, the kicker is that, when I am obese, I am not healthy. Granted, whether I was eating vegan or when I was eating fried chicken for ten meals a week, I am still the same secretly-cynical, overtly-bubbly goofball, but there is no doubt I am less healthy the heavier I am. This. This is what bothers me.
The B.S. Rx for Every Ailment
Let’s break things down into more tangible terms: When I was 15, my menstrual cramps were bad; like, passing out and vomiting bad. Naturally, my mother is not a heartless wench, so she took me to several doctors. Most of these specialists thought I was being hyperbolic and recommended Midol and/or suggested I lose weight. Leave it to the medical system to offer revolutionary advice.
But, sarcasm aside, the constantly recurring advice of weight loss and increased activity–for a girl who grew up overweight–fell on deaf ears. So, the next reasonable suggestion the OB/GYN gave me, since I was clearly set in hibernation state, was to put me on birth control to help manage my monthly reign of terror. Lo and behold, I am part of the lucky 2% of women that contracts blood clots from birth control–four clots to be exact. These clots (or DVTs for the more medically-minded) resulted in four weeks in the hospital, three vascular procedures, two months in a wheelchair, and one decade of blood thinners. Cheers.
Granted, this was not all bad. First of all, since the ER had no idea what was wrong with me–clots in an 18-year-old isn’t exactly normal–they pumped me full of a bit of everything, including Vancomycin, which meant my skin was looking fresh as hell. Had it not been for the week-old grease in my hair, I could have passed for a Covergirl with pores this tight.
Also, due to painkillers, I had lost my appetite completely and slept 12-18 hours a day, which meant I was too physically exhausted to bite my nails or eat. Who knew being in the hospital could be so beneficial for a beauty regimen? Seeing myself over thirty pounds lighter in just a month was exhilarating–I had never been that slim post-puberty. I mean, if I could look this much better at 210, I thought, how good might I look at 180? 150? This thought process is what led me to consistently(ish) losing or maintaining weight in college. I, for the most part, ate healthier for quite a while and worked out on a more consistent basis (some months more consistent than others) and guess what–my cramps stopped. When I was working out regularly, I seldom felt more than a slight twinge that time of the month. As a girl going from taking morphine and Lortab for cramps to not experiencing any at all…amazing.
A Sob Story to Build a SoapBox
This whole sob story was shared to build my soapbox: I needed to change my lifestyle in order to make my life more enjoyable. I am still a plus size girl, and yes, at 27, I am still working on learning to love and accept the body I have. But I KNOW at this size, I am not the best version of me. Before the backlash opens, I think everyone should appreciate and care for themselves at any point in their lives.
Over a life, just as our heads and heart change, so do our bodies, and there is no shame in being any size. Lord knows, I am not advocating for body shaming of any kind. The body positivity movement–in many cases–does not advocate this stance; instead, it pushes for ideas like, “Real women have curves.” People come in every shape and size imaginable. In fact, we live in an era where being a woman extends far behind our bodies. The issues with the body positivity movement is that it often neglects to empower those who are thin, male, non-binary, or differently abled. Additionally, it can support an empirically less healthy lifestyle. Yes–I will sing it from the hilltops: big is beautiful. Physical health problems, on the other hand, are not. Though I’m not a parent, I’m still ’bout to slip into mom-mode for a minute, and it’s because I feel strongly about this topic. Taking care of our bodies is a form of self-love. Just as starving our stomachs and constantly denying ourselves “bad” foods is malpractice for self-love, so is being overly sedentary or binge-eating.
Reframe the Movement
As far as I can tell, the best way to be body positive is to strive for balance. This includes all areas, such as nutrition, activity, self-care, relaxation, our relationships–pretty much every area of life. Just think about how the outlook of our bodies can change when we stop with the ego-stoking, and instead focus on being kind to ourselves, while still acknowledging areas in our lives that need improving. So yes–love your body, and love your soul. Then, use that energy to empower yourself and people you love.