You read so much now about the pressures of social media on people’s perception of themselves. Photo editing, air brushing and the never ending perfectness of the lives and bodies of instagram influencers is blamed for people’s insecurities about their own bodies.
On the other side of the coin, a new wave of body positivity has started to prevail online, celebrating all body shapes and sizes and embracing people as they are.
The thing that sits awkwardly between these two polar sides of these internet discourses is being healthy, because obviously striving to get to a body size and shape which is very thin and requires excessive training, undereating and unhealthy eating habits is bad, but is encouraging people who are dangerously overweight to remain the same in the name of body inclusivity responsible?
Nobody would argue that people who are a size 12/14 feeling fat because we have generally always been conditions to think that anything over a size 10 is ‘big’ is alright, and the more positive discourse around size and shape and what’s normal is clearly a step in the right direction, people who are not super slim can of course be fit, healthy and strong. More women looking to lift in gyms has aided this change in mindset as strong is now often more desirable than skinny and more women want muscles and a bum (remember this has not been the case until pretty recently, I grew up in the 90s when a flat bum was the goal!).
All of that is great, but within this movement there is also the argument that nobody should be told to lose weight no mater what their size. Is that right though? Of course BMI is rubbish, I’m obese according to that yet I teach group exercise classes with ease, lift, and have recently run a half marathon. Last time i went to the doctor and got my blood pressure tested they commented ho healthy I was physically. Lots of people are bigger but strong, fit, in good health, size alone shouldn’t be the only thing to define a person’s attractiveness or health. Should body positivity stop people who are overweight and unhealthy from being encouraged to get help though? If someone is finding their size is affecting their health or their ability to do things, surely this should not be part of the everyone is entitled to be the size they want?
As ever, we seem to be unable to look at the grey areas between the black and white of two different camps. If you’re happy does it matter what size you are? Personally I think no, but if your size or lifestyle if affecting your health and ability to do things I think we should be able to advise them that they could benefit from making changes. Weight loss doesn’t have to be the be all and end all of a positive lifestyle change, but it also shouldn’t be a dirty word. Encouraging a client to lose weight if it’s part of their goal shouldn’t make them some kind of enemy to the body positivity movement.
What are your thoughts?