Body Positivity Is Great. Period

Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

If you are not a doctor, you don’t have the right to define someone’s health.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 10, 2017.

Body positivity is something that all people, regardless of size, shape, color or gender absolutely need to survive. Last week, an article was written in the UNC Greensboro community that criticized the body positive movement, saying that the idea is ineffective when it ‘ignores health concerns.’ The article goes on to ostracize body positivity, and although I think the author had good intentions here, they did not articulate themselves at all. Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

To begin, weight does not indicate health. Everyone carries their weight differently. Just because someone looks ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ to you, doesn’t mean they actually are obese or overweight. The actual definition of ‘obese’ is “grossly fat or overweight,” but who decides if the person is grossly fat? All of the women in the photo below weigh the exact same weight, 154 lbs.

Second, if you are not a doctor, you do not have the right or the qualifications to define someone’s health. There are several health conditions that can cause an individual to gain weight, and often these medical conditions don’t take into consideration whether you balance your fruits and vegetables. Some of these conditions can result from thyroid issuesmental-illness-related problems, or simply side effects from hormones.

Just as many of these health conditions make it more difficult for people lose weight. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)insulin resistance, or even something as simple as depression.

Next, I’d like to articulate some things. In the article written last week, the author makes a few key points which I’d like to debunk. First, they mention that the body positive movement “promotes a sedentary lifestyle.”

This is so incorrect that I don’t even know where to begin. Not everyone who is body positive is ‘obese’, or ‘super-thin.’ (I use these terms in quotes because I find those terms to be subjective – the opinion often lies in the eye of the beholder). Those you consider to fall under those terms aren’t necessarily unhealthy.

Bigger people are not promoting anything, they’re simply existing. Also, no one has ever looked at an ‘obese’ person and thought, “I’m going to sit around all day so I can look like that.” Not sure where this claim comes from, but it honestly sounds made up.

Self-love does not equate to negativity toward exercise and dieting. Like I’ve mentioned before, not everyone who is body-positive is plus-size, and those that are don’t necessarily hate health or exercise. I think the author was considering a very small group of people when they wrote this article, and that’s simply disrespectful because they generalized a whole bunch of people.

The author of the article also posed this question to their audience, “Where is the line between body confidence and obesity?” Why does there have to be a line between the two? Couldn’t the line connect both together? Since ‘obese’ is a subjective term, I’ll begin using the word ‘overweight,’ or the phrase ‘seemingly overweight’ from now on.

Can seemingly overweight people not have body confidence? Why should self-love correlate with health at all? The two are very separate things and do not depend on one another. They can reflect one another if the individual feels that way, but they do not require one another to exist. And again, you may be severely incorrect in assuming someone is unhealthy based on the way they look to you.

What you consider ‘health,’ and what someone else considers ‘health’ is always going to be different. When people throw up the middle finger on Instagram in regards to body-shaming, they are looking to shame those similar to the author of this article. That middle finger is to shame those who think they’re helping thinner people or bigger people by offering unsolicited and unqualified medical advice concerning that individual’s health.

To be fair, it’s never been about health. The author was correct when they mentioned the correlation between body image and society. Often people decide what is ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ based on what they see both in the media and in society. The truth is: society will never be pleased with how you look. Clothing companies will never truly accommodate for plus size people, and if people truly cared about our health, they’d advocate for an increase in plus-size active wear, or even for the decrease of fat-shaming so that plus-size people no longer have to hide.

For some reason, people think that fat-shaming bigger people will encourage them to lose weight. It’s the same with skinny-shaming, really. Here’s some tea: it may encourage weight-loss, but what about when that weight-loss isn’t healthy? What about when that weight-loss spirals into an eating disorder? Is that the individual’s fault too?

Society and the media will never take responsibility for its faults. At the end of the day, what matters is how you feel about yourself and your body. Self-love does not and will never correlate with the amount of love you have to give, or the amount of love others have to give to you. Unconditional love for yourself will come from you loving yourself unconditionally, no matter what state you’re in. You are lovable and acceptable the way you are, no matter how you are.

And no, we’re not sending a radical message to anyone. Let’s not pretend body-shaming is an issue that pertains only to women. We are sending a message to women, men, young boys and girls that there is a need to love yourself, rather than the need to be thinner or bigger. You just have to learn to love yourself.

Like I said, I think this author had their heart in the right place, but the execution of opinion was not the best in my opinion.

“Let’s leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize.” Yeah, why don’t we?

18 Signs You’re A Strong, Independent Woman

Know yourself, know your worth.

“Here’s to strong women, may we KNOW them, may we BE them, may we RAISE them.” – Unknown

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 18, 2017.

Strong women are a gift to the universe. They help us live, learn, and grow. They shape who we are even if we don’t know them personally. Without them, we literally would not exist. Here’s to all the strong women out there – may we raise more girls to be brave, fearless, and proud like you.

1. You believe in yourself and others.

Though it may not always be inherently obvious, you know that you and your friends are capable of anything. You’re willing to encourage everyone and anyone who needs an extra push and when it comes to self-motivation, you’re willing to give it your best shot.

2. If the path is unclear, you’re willing to find another way.

Sometimes the rules aren’t clear, or they don’t make sense for everyone following them. You’re willing to think outside the box and find an alternative solution that will benefit everyone.

3. You’re more of a leader than a follower.

If you’re willing to find a way around the rules, you’re likely more of a leader than a follower. The world was built on strong, independent women, and we have no shame!

4. It’s more comfortable for you to do things your own way.

It’s not that you have a superiority complex or anything, but sometimes it’s more comforting to complete things the most efficient way possible (in your honest opinion).

5. You’re a role model to someone.

Even if it’s a neighbor, co-worker, a niece, or nephew, you matter to someone. Someone probably thinks you’re really cool even when you think you’re not looking so hot. Remember that you are always going to be #goals for someone.

6. You’re an emotional rock.

People come to you for help, whether it be emotional or physical. You offer a shoulder and stay strong for people who need you. It’s one of the traits that makes you so strong.

7. People rely on you.

Whether it be for money, work, friendship, or something else altogether; people rely on you. You’re dependable, and people know you won’t let them down. You’re an important person to know.

8. You’re passionate about whatever you do.

You put 100% dedication into everything you do, and people really value that. You know that the job isn’t done until you’ve seen it through to the end. You’re not afraid to do whatever you can to get to the finish line.

9. Honesty is something you value.

There is no strength in lying, in faking it, or in two-faced relationships. You know that honesty is important in every single endeavor. You set an honest precedent for everyone around you.

10. You ask for help when you need it.

Part of being strong is knowing how to ask for help. Being strong doesn’t mean carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders alone; it means knowing how to delegate and ask for help when you require it. A strong woman did not become strong without the help of other strong women.

11. You get shit done one way or another.

Even when you procrastinate something, you’re multitasking and getting work done. Even when you’re taking a break, you’re actively thinking about something else you have to work on. Finishing things isn’t a problem for you, no matter how much time you may need to finish them.

12. Even when you feel like you can’t pull yourself together, you do.

You know that tomorrow is a new day and everything will work itself out in the end. Even when it doesn’t work itself out, you figure something out and find a different way. You’re a perseverance expert when it comes to getting yourself together.

13. You test the limits.

Part of being a strong woman is breaking the bounds, changing the game, and making history. Whether it’s arguing for a pay raise, fight for equality, or something more personal, like escaping your comfort zone – there is no test to see how far you’ll go.

14. You empower other women, instead of putting them down.

You know that no strong woman became strong on her own. You empower and encourage other women instead of tearing them down. You stand with your fellow #strongwomen, and push them toward greatness.

15. No one needs to tell you how to live your life.

You are strong and independent! You don’t need anyone giving you directions or orders. You know this and refuse to accept those who attempt to order you around.

16. Sometimes you put others before yourself, but you still take care of yourself properly.

Part of being a strong person is knowing that there are others you either have to or want to take care of. Despite this, you still know how to engage in self-care. Without it, you know you won’t be strong enough to care for the others.

17. Even when you don’t feel strong, you hang in there for the people who need you.

Even on your worst days, you keep going. You’re not only someone who refuses to throw in the towel until everyone is safe and okay, but you’re also someone who makes sure everyone is comfortable and content before truly reeling it in for the day.

18. You know you’re a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to tell her otherwise.

Sometimes it’s not always obvious, but you know damn well that no one can undermine you. You know when you’re right and you know when you’re wrong even if you’re reluctant to admit it sometimes. You know when people are underestimating and undervaluing you. Know yourself, know your worth.