The Most Common Myths About Body Positivity
Society and the bigger body
Welcome back to Body Positive Month here at the Amberable. Today we are gonna discuss and BUST some common myths that come along with trying to find more body positivity in your life.
It’s not really a secret that when you live in a body that isn’t considered by society to be “normal”, you can be left with a feeling of living on the outside looking in. As a woman living in a bigger body, I have found that society can leave me in this impossible parallel of feeling like I am too much, and yet not enough all at the same time.
My whole life I’ve had this subconscious need to blend in, hide, or make myself feel not as eye-catching in a crowd. Most full-figured people just want to blend in and not be seen. We spend so much time obsessing over our own self-image that we project that feeling onto other people. Strangers mostly, but it’s almost as natural as breathing.
I’m not saying that body or fat-shaming doesn’t exist. We all know it does. Living in a bigger body can cost you jobs, better pay, and relationships. It even can cost you the benefit of perfectly polite interactions with strangers. To elaborate I mean, I’ve had men hold doors for thinner women in front of me and then leave the door to shut on me. I’ve had thinner women judge me quite plainly in public about my choice of clothing or Starbucks order.
Surely this is just a fact of some people’s kids not being raised better, right? In most cases that could be part of the problem. The bigger issue is that society has created an environment of what the “perfect” body is supposed to look like. Sadly, the majority of us do not live in that kind of body, which leaves us constantly unhappy in our own skin, and teaches the rest of society quite a few misconceptions about bigger-bodied people.
Body Positivity: Expectation vs Reality
This is where we are really going to get into the reality of living in a more body-positive mindset. There are so many common myths about body positivity that we really need to discuss them with a healthy dose of honesty.
The expectation of being body positive can be quite devastating when it meets reality. As I’ve mentioned before I have been researching for my own podcast. That means listening to A LOT of women talk about what being body positive, loving their bodies, or being fat accepting means to them. Overall, the message and the information they spread is something I can agree with. What tends to bother me though, is there is quite a bit missing when it comes to looking at the bigger picture. I know I’m not alone in this because I’ve read plenty of comments on social media from bigger men and women that try to address some of the concerns of the body positive movement. This made me want to dive deeper into some of these valid concerns surrounding the entire concept of being body positive.
Toxic environment and Body Positivity
One of the most common myths about body positivity is that it can’t be a toxic environment. This is 100% false. In fact, when I first came across the concept of being fat accepting and more body positive I found that the community could be just as toxic as any other social construct.
This kind of blew me away. It even turned me off of the whole concept of being body positive for awhile. Luckily for me, that gave me more time to understand that being body positive was more about my relationship with myself and my body. Not an entire online community.
Model Fascination Situation
I remember being so impressed with a certain plus-sized model. The first of our kind showing up on fashion magazines. She wasn’t the “plus” kind of plus-size we had seen. You know the size 8-12’s that are being thrown on the cover as plus size but really weren’t. She was a body that looked like the rest of us. It was inspiring. I followed her everywhere. Instagram, Facebook honestly any place I could.
Over a period of time, I noticed that her fan base, a base I was eagerly a part of, was growing more and more aggressive towards people who didn’t understand why having a person like this model was important to bigger people. Of course, you had the regular trolls out there, talking about her size, how she was a bad role model for young women, how her health was probably terrible. These trolls were rude and would always rally the body positive warriors to come out in droves.
The problem with this is the same with anything that fosters a pack mentality. The group aggression became worse. Honest questions and concerns about bigger bodies and health started becoming targets for vicious attacks. I found myself defending the people asking questions and talking facts about health. Only to have the pack turn on me. The final straw was when I noticed that the very model herself was “liking” and encouraging the more violent posts wishing people death and other very toxic responses.
It was at this point that I realized there was a healthy dose of honesty missing from the conversation when it came to the struggle of loving and accepting your body. Furthermore, I understood why it was missing. When you are finally given permission to stop hating yourself, the feelings that come along with that are powerful. As the movement grew bigger, you had thousands of women coming into that power and they weren’t going to let it go for ANYTHING!
Body Positivity isn’t all sunshine and cheer
Another one of the common myths about body positivity is that once you accept your body, all the problems you’ve struggled with just disappear. Unfortunately, this is just false.
When you first dive into the concept of body positivity, the feeling of acceptance can be heady. Like being unchained for the first time in your life. This leads to a sense of euphoria. While that is a wonderful feeling, you have to be ready for reality to come back in. You will still have all those same struggles you had before. Self-image hatred, depression, insecurity, and self-doubt all still linger in your heart and mind.
I know it doesn’t seem fair. You see all the big girls in bikini’s on social media and they look happy and full of life. They look like they are made of steel and could care less about society’s rules about their body. The majority of them may actually feel that way most of the time, but the reality is they didn’t get there overnight and I’m sure many of them still feel the sting of insecurity from time to time.
The best thing you can do is admire their bravery and connection to their body while working on that same courage and connection in your own life. Understand that you will be faced every day with old insecurities. Yet over time, they will ease up their tenacious grip on you, just don’t give up.
Remember this, being body positive or fat accepting doesn’t mean that you feel loving, accepting, or positive about your body all the time. When these struggles pop up, that’s when we need to start practicing body affirmation. The reinforcement that your body is not the enemy and is worth loving.
The unhealthy health belief
This is a pretty hot topic and yet another of the common myths about body positivity. The myth being that if you are fat then you are unhealthy. This is flat out untrue, but hold on before you go screaming “I told you so!” We need to talk about the reality of health and weight.
Of course, many studies have shown that having more weight on your body is unhealthy. It can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure/cholesterol, and even diabetes. All of this is true, and let’s face it being heavy as you grow older is hard on the body. I can tell you that in my 20’s I felt invincible. Now that I’m in my 40’s I can feel every extra pound on my body as I walk, or try to do much of anything. Age plays a factor in how well your body handles the weight, but that’s more for next week’s topic.
The Obesity Paradox
On to the good news, more recent studies are showing that having a little extra meat on your bones actually allows you to live longer. These findings are known as The Obesity Paradox. According to WebMD, “There is more evidence that people who are overweight tend to live longer than people who are underweight, normal weight, or obese.”
I was listening to a podcast about accepting your body, and the author of the podcast brought up some of these findings. I was intrigued but also a little baffled. The information she brought up just couldn’t be true. Could it? Well yes, and no. After looking up the research she presented on my own, I found out she left out quite a bit of context for her findings.
Yes, the studies show that people that are overweight tend to live longer, but what she didn’t mention is what “overweight” was. The sweet spot for longevity is apparently men and women with a BMI of 25- 29.9. For most of us, that struggle with weight, that kind of BMI is our dream goal. Anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher, is still looking at a shorter life span statistically speaking.
I don’t tell you this to burst your bubble or make you lose hope. On the contrary, I believe that the more reality we have when it comes to our health and our bodies the better we arm ourselves for the battle ahead!
My only goal is to help people love themselves healthy. Love your body RIGHT NOW AS IT IS, and the rest will come. You can’t hate yourself into good health. Furthermore, even if you are in perfect physical health now, hating your body is the furthest away from complete health as you can get.
The Dangers of Yo-Yo Diets
We talked about all the studies showing how being overweight can harm your health right? Well guess what, so can dieting! Yep, that’s right, all the same problems you could be at risk for just for being overweight you can also be at risk for when you diet.
According to an article over at Healthline.com; “Yo-yo dieting can increase your body fat percentage at the expense of muscle mass and strength, and can cause fatty liver, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.”
Does that mean its all hopeless? Not at all. It just means that diets don’t work. Restrictive diets just cause you to binge and cause emotional trauma. What this means is that finding balance, and trust within your relationship with food is how you break the cycle.
Quick recap because I threw a lot of information at you. When it comes to the common myths about body positivity, there seem to be two major ones in the field of health:
- All fat people are unhealthy (not true!)
- Accepting your full-figured body now means you don’t have to worry about health anymore. (again, not true)
Learning to love and accept your body means being honest with yourself about your body and it’s health. No being overweight doesn’t make you unhealthy. Equally as important, accepting your body as it is today, doesn’t mean you’ve given up on your health.
The Bottom Line
There are so many common myths about body positivity. They can create false ideals of what being truly body positive is. Hopefully, this helped clear up some of the bigger ones.
When you start to accept who you are, and feel positive about your body you will feel a shift in your life. The judgments of others will have less sting, you will begin to understand true freedom and empowerment. The best part is the love for yourself will grow in leaps and bounds.
Shedding the darkness that comes from constant body hate is liberating. Just remember to dose this newfound freedom with honesty and you will find yourself living the life you’ve only imagined. Be honest in your expectations of self and remember that you won’t always feel positive about your body and that is OKAY! Rely on your loving affirmations to boost you up on the low days. Most importantly, have honesty checks with your health and goals whatever they may be. Lastly, set standards on how you want to be treated, you are not just your body, and society doesn’t get to dictate how you are treated because of that beautiful body.
You are worthy of every wonderful thing this world has to offer. You were not made to accept anything less just because of the body you live in.
Next week I will be talking about the difference of being plus-sized in your 20’s vs your 40s. How the mind and body change as you mature! Until then stay safe and remember you are not alone!
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