Body Shaming vs. Body Acceptance – where we all fit in this crazy spectrum

I recently saw a book written by the famous size 22 (Aus and UK size 26) model Tess Holliday. Her popular taglines such as “Eff Your Beauty Standards” and “Embrace Your Body” have been hailed as empowering, and she is considered a feminist icon.  Tess Holliday and other women like her, proclaim to be “real women”, and anyone that disagrees with them is shunned. Men are called “misogynistic pigs” for finding a woman of such a size unattractive, they may remark on a man’s height for not liking her, or even question his manhood. Other women, especially fit or thin ones are called “skinny bitches” or told that “no man likes bones” etc. The same people who talk about body acceptance are now shaming others for exactly the same reason. I look at these women and I see two things: unhealthy and belittling. When did accepting your body become a license to hate other peoples?

I am not a skinny girl. I come from a long generation of big titted, fat arsed ladies. Plus… I like food!! But that does not mean I am unhealthy. I sit within a healthy BMI, I eat plenty of fruits and veggies, drink loads of water and can run 5kms. I even go to the gym. But I do love cake! I have been thinner, I have been fitter. I used to be obsessed with lifting weights at the gym and counting calories. I could go a whole day without eating. I didn’t actually have an eating disorder, but I certainly could have if my friends and family hadn’t kept a close eye on me. That’s all over now. Being in the Pin Up community where my natural hourglass figure is not only accepted but celebrated makes me feel much more at ease with who I am as a woman and a person.

To many people, I would be considered overweight, indeed I could sit more comfortably inside a healthy BMI range. I admit that some men and women may even find me completely unattractive. That’s ok. It’s their prerogative as to what they find hot or not. I know there are plenty of men and women in the world who find curves gorgeous. There are also plenty that finds tall athletic types attractive. That’s what makes the world a wonderful place. We all have the freedom and choices for what we find attractive (no matter what image may be forced upon by Hollywood, pornography or fashion magazines). I am pretty sure that Tess Holliday’s husband, an obvious lover of the more fleshy types, wouldn’t find Miranda Kerr, a slim type attractive. These are all fine. This isn’t about who finds what attractive. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

This is about embracing your body, but also embracing the single most important thing on this earth. YOUR HEALTH. What I am about to say may piss off some people. To be honest, though, it needs to be said. A person who is severely overweight, obese even, is NOT healthy. You can scream body acceptance all you like. But the facts do not lie. 34% of all Americans are obese. Obesity puts a serious strain on the heart, liver and other vital organs. Doctors quite clearly say that you CANNOT be healthy if you’re more than 20 pounds (about 10kgs) over the top weight recommended for a healthy BMI. Yes, BMI isn’t the best way to measure. It doesn’t always take into consideration things like bodybuilding or muscle mass. But any Doctor will be able to tell you whether or not you’re healthy. I am sorry to say this, there is no way in hell that the likes of Tess Holliday are healthy. Sure, she can accept her body all she wants, she can think she’s gorgeous, she may very well be to lots of people. But she isn’t healthy. Just in the same way a person who is overly thin isn’t healthy. Just as too much weight can put a strain on your organs, not enough weight and nourishment can cause organs to shut down. A healthy weight is definitely a spectrum. Too thin or too fat and you’re in the unhealthy zone.

Models in the 1990s and early 2000s were criticised for being too thin and causing a bad role model to young women and men in the world. As a result, many countries and companies have banned the use of unhealthy thin models. Which is amazing! However, as previously discussed, too fat is also unhealthy and dangerous. The so-called “body acceptance movement” is embracing women such as Tess Holliday, despite their clearly unhealthy lifestyle, as “wonderful”. This is not wonderful. I am all for accepting one’s body, but what makes accepting a heavily obese person any different from accepting a crazily thin one? The same implications exist. Young men and women are going to be influenced to not maintain a healthy weight, the same way it was feared they would with the thin models. This is exactly the same problem but on the other end of the spectrum.

We need to be showing models that sit within the healthy range of body weight. We can still have curvy women and bulky men. We can still have slim, statuesque types, and petite models. So long as they are healthy. The human body comes in many shapes and sizes to be healthy. The main motivator here is HEALTH. Stop picking on the likes of Victoria’s Secret Models saying they’re unhealthy – for the most part, they’re probably healthier than anyone you know! We also need to stop looking up to these supposed “body image warriors” who are clearly unhealthy. It isn’t actually achieving anything.

Feel free, embrace the body you’ve got, and find whatever you want attractive. But be aware of your health. I wish for a day when models weren’t “plus size” or “petite” or labeled in such a manner, but that every model was just healthy. Please.

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3 thoughts on “Body Shaming vs. Body Acceptance – where we all fit in this crazy spectrum

  1. I think you’ve missed the point of body positivity. You can feel happy, confident, comfortable or positive with your body and still be aware that you are unhealthy or that things may need to change. You’re allowed to feel confident with the body and at the same time work to improve it.

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    • While you bring up a valid point, I was mostly talking about promoting health as opposed to body positivity, you can love who you are sure, but we shouldn’t pretend that these people are healthy when they aren’t

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  2. Pingback: Average, Fat, or Skinny: Are You Healthy? | Terry's Cupboard

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