The Body Positivity Movement- and why it’s hurting more than it helps

I, like most of my peers, get self-conscious. Particularly, conscious of my body. Some days when I look in the mirror, I feel that 10 extra pounds snuck in and attached itself to my gut in the dead of night. Most people at some point in their life have felt bad about their appearance, specifically their weight.

As a society, there is no question that we idolize certain body types. Rail-thin models adorn the cover of every magazine, advertisements on the computer and television screen show you how to shed pounds quick, and most stores don’t produce clothing too far (large) outside of the average size range. The idyllic size 00 has become the bane of many girls and women who go to harmful and dangerous lengths to achieve it. This mindset is directly correlated to the striking amount of women who have or have had eating disorders in their life. Of the 15% of American women who have suffered with this disease, it is estimated that 6% of those serious cases die. So, you would think that someone would step up and say, “This is wrong!”

In comes the “body positivity” movement.

While the message seems wholesome, an aim to make women and girls feel comfortable in their body no matter the size, the underlying implications are dangerous. While it is important to encourage people to feel good about themselves, at what point does that spread into a morally grey area? If an individual is morbidly obese, should we as a society ignore the blatant danger to their health and push them to love their body? That goes against our moral obligation to keep others out of harm’s way, intentional or unintentional. Do we put health first and remind them that there is a point where you should not be proud of your body? This can be interpreted as body policing and bullying. As you can see, there are no easy answers. However, there is a correct answer.

One out of every five Americans is classified as “obese” by having a Body-Mass Index of 30 or greater. We, as a nation, have a problem. Yes, self-love is important, but the body positivity movement is barking up the wrong tree at the wrong time. What we need right now is not to encourage everyone to be complacent in their body and simply live with how they look. We need to push people to strive to be the best they can be, which can be done with lifestyle changes and dietary changes even on a minute scale. It doesn’t matter if you hate exercise; a light walk around your neighborhood every day can leave you feeling better than any motivational quote you see on a body positivity account. Why? Because by going out and doing something to better yourself, even if the results are not visible, it is a tangible piece of evidence and positivity that you can hold onto in your heart and mind. We cannot be a society that becomes indifferent to their own health. Do yourself a favor, and become your own body positivity advocate, not by following some account on Twitter that promotes unhealthy bodies, but by adjusting your lifestyle to feel your best in your body.

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