As a society, we have moved forward leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. With mental health support becoming widely accessible, transgenderism no longer being categorised as a disorder in the UK, and the massively impactful body positive movement spreading its wings across the globe. There are so many positive changes happening daily.
However, as we move in the right direction (all be it sometimes slowly), there is a dark side to positive social change. This ‘dark side’ has been under controversial debate as it gains media attention and those who oppose it are often labelled ‘fatphobic’ or as ‘fat-shamers’. I am referring to the fat acceptance movement. Why? Because unfortunately fat acceptance and body positivity have become synonyms, taking valuable attention away from those in greater need.
Instead of having people grace the cover Cosmo with their physical disabilities, diverse bodies and genderised representation on show, we instead value those who hold the flag for fat acceptance. Here, of course, I am referring to Tess Holliday, who’s front cover picture garnered astronomical amounts of attention.
Of course I am hugely supportive of the body positivity movement. I believe that people of all races, ages and abilities should feel comfortable in their own skin. But as fat acceptance drives the body positivity movement, less light is shown on those who need it. I’m referencing the people who have undergone cancer treatment who deserve to be proud of their bodies. The people who are born in the wrong body or the people with disabilities that are so frequently ignored by the media. And, of course, all of the different races that need a platform to speak out.
And this is where is gets tricky. We cannot ignore those who have no or little control over their weight because of genes or medical health. Our genes play a key part in how our bodies form and distribute weight, which should be a part of the body positivity movement.
But here are the facts. As of 2018, 42.4% of the US citizens were categorised as being clinically obese. This means their weight negatively affects their health, not that they just have a little extra fat. Furthermore, only 12% of US citizens have endocrine abnormalities such as an under-active thyroid which significantly affects your metabolic rate. Naturally, there are other medical reasons as to why people hold more weight than others. But with the use of a medical professional’s advice and medication, most health issues can be resolved or controlled.
Are you ‘fat-phobic’?
The issue with giving so much attention to those who stand by the fat acceptance movement is that they (to a degree) have a level of control over their weight. And this is why fat acceptance is destroying the body positive movement.
People born with disabilities do not have control over how their body looks or functions.
People born in the wrong body do not choose to change gender.
People born as a certain race do not choose to be that race.
But those who are without medical reasons do choose to be obese.
And it’s time to draw a line.
I’m not saying don’t let those who have little or no control over their weight not feel accepted or represented. Instead, stop taking away stage space from those who are so frequently under-represented just because of the fat-acceptance trend.
Taking valuable attention away from those who need body positivity because of your choices is not a positive social movement. It’s a bastardisation of free-speech and choice.
What would you rather see? A woman who has learned to love her own skin displaying her mastectomy surgery scars after she won her battle with cancer, or a woman who chooses to negate a healthy lifestyle for no other reason than her own detrimental choices?