Tag Archives: body positive

My Problem with the Body Positive Movement

I’m plus-size, and I like to think I’m body positive. The term, which in my understanding refers to those of us who love ourselves and others even though we’re overweight, seems like a good thing. I believe it’s important to love and accept ourselves, but I’ve never been “accepted” by this particular movement.

Sure, I champion the rights of plus-size people whenever possible. I’ve spoken at national conferences, opined on the topic for every major TV network in the US and sat across from CEO’s and executives in the hopes of creating a more accepting, respectful society, and I’ve seen some major change over the years due to my willingness to be a positive part of change.

I weigh about 350 pounds, and I have the audacity to believe that I’m pretty great. Society tells me that I shouldn’t feel that way, which is why the Body Positive movement needs to exist. They just need to get a grip because right now it seems that so many are focused on fat acceptance that they simply don’t accept my desire to be accepted if I pursue better health.

This isn’t a new issue. A few years ago I faced incredible amounts of opposition from the most notable fat acceptance organization in the US because I didn’t necessarily want to stay fat. I’m seeing the same sentiment again on Facebook and Twitter, and I think it’s judgmental and ridiculous to believe that someone must stay obese (and potentially unhealthy) simply to be accepted.

Losing weight has been challenging for me, but I’m determined to make healthy strides regardless of what shows on the scale. Let me be very clear for a moment – the only thing that has been more daunting than losing 200 + pounds is learning to love and accept myself. I did that, and now I’d like to see my body restored as well because I just don’t feel as good at 350 pounds as I did at 300 pounds.

I currently weigh less than I did at 27, but y blood pressure is higher now than it was at that time. My size affects me more than it did 7 years ago, and I feel a bit achy these days due to skin issues that wouldn’t exist if I were not obese. I also know that I’m wearing out my body more quickly than I should be because my body has to work harder because of the extra weight.

These are things I’ve known as long as I’ve been overweight, and there’s nothing wrong with changing them. And changing them shouldn’t mean that I’m no longer acceptable to a movement that allegedly exists to combat intolerance.

Here’s the reality. It’s been a long time since I required validation from society. Society sucks, and I don’t need to be accepted by this movement. I just think that it could be such a positive force if the leaders would come together and truly understand tolerance rather than being tolerant of people who are just like them and no one else. (This is a problem in every major movement in the media right now.)

I love my life and myself more than I ever have before, which is all the more reason for me to spend a little time tracking my food intake and exercising. Fueling my body with healthy things (at least sometimes) is a good thing, and regardless of whether a person or an entire movement takes issue with it I’ll still be happy in the long run because I did what was best for me.

 

Fat Shaming Is A Thing, But It’s Not A Helpful Thing

Fat shaming has never made anyone healthy…ever. I doubt that it has ever made anyone skinny either, and before I go any further, I want to highlight the fact that these adjectives are not synonymous with each other.

Being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy, and being fat doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unhealthy. My blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, resting heart rate, etc. is all excellent now. There are a lot of risk factors associated with someone my  size, but you can’t judge a person’s health based on how they look.

You can’t look at me and know that I significantly reduced my chances of having a heart attack or stroke by dropping a significant amount of weight or that I exercised today, nor can you know that I’ve struggled to keep a lot of it off because of thoughts that swirl around in my mind. You can’t know the reasons why.

One of a few significant reasons is that I allowed an airline’s perception of me to take up space in my mind. I allowed one seemingly disgruntled gate agent’s blanket prejudice to define me long after his hurtful comments were an old headline in the news, and it didn’t cause me to lose weight. I didn’t thrive off of the negative attention that followed his comments either; I caved.

I take responsibility for that. I am the only one who can make a decision to change or to let others define me, and I accept that. It’s all on me to change what I need to change for myself, but if fat shaming worked I’d be skinny by now.

On of the reasons that I stopped blogging as much is that I no longer wished to put myself on a chopping block for trolls who think I shouldn’t exist or that I don’t have a right to share my story because I’m obese. That’s nonsense, of course, but eradicating that negativity has been good for me.

I’ve been quiet here for quite some time. I’ve shared opinions, pissed people off and taken a break, but that break is over because it’s time to stand with other voices and to say, Hey, it’s none of your beeswax if I’m fat or not. Your opinion of me doesn’t define me; it defines you.”

kenlie

I’m not skinny…not even close, but I love myself.

I’m lucky to have a supportive group of people in my life who love me and accept me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to undo the damage that I allowed to take root in my heart and mind when I allowed society’s opinions to define who I was.

I gained a significant amount of weight that I had lost, and I’ve felt a lot of shame as a result. Never has that led to a lower number on the scale. It doesn’t work that way, nor should it.

The last few weeks have been healthier and more successful for me because I’m enjoying my life. I’m reclaiming a lot of the confidence I lost thanks to my friends and family, a significant other who loves to remind me that I’m brilliant and sexy, and I’m making healthier decisions because it makes me feel good (not because people think I should feel bad.)

I don’t hate myself, so that will never be a driving force in my fight for better health. I exercised today because I value my life. I shopped for groceries and prepared for a healthy week of meals because I want to be around for a long time to love people, and I can only hope (and assume) that these small positive steps will lead to other positive steps.

If you truly care about my health go for a walk in the park with me, or take me to lunch and order something healthy and delicious. There are people in my life who do that. There are people who want me around for a long time, and they offer support, not criticism.

I’m not going to link to that newest fat shaming video that’s making its way around the internet  because plenty of others are doing that. I don’t know when it became acceptable to spew hatred on social media, but I do know that there’s no end in sight.

I do know that the responsibility for my life falls on me, not on a skinny girl who could benefit from some acting classes or a gate agent who was probably having a really crappy day. I get to decide what I’m worth. I’m just sorry that I didn’t always know that.

At our core, we’re all the same. We desire to be loved and accepted (even the jerks who spew hatred…especially the jerks who spew hatred.) One important lesson I’ve learned is that I’m lovable, and I don’t have to care if others agree with that or not.