Body Bash Fridays! Extra doses of body love & body love topics today. Share your body love story by submitting it here.
Today, I wanted to address an issue that’s not ONLY perpetuated by the images we see in the media, but also within the fitness world: fat phobia. Fat phobic thoughts (or behavior) run rampant on our blogs, sites, magazines, etc. Here on Tumblr, it’s enmeshed with messages of health, self-worth and self-loathing.
In this society, we absorb and internalize the message young: being fat is bad. Thin is good. Within the fitness world, we’ve added more layers: being fat is unhealthy, means you’re lazy and (consequently) is something you will (and should) be judged for.
You’ll often see ”motivational” messages (not on MY tumblr, but around) that push that same ideology. Common ones I see ”the pain of working out is better than the pain of being fat” or ”do it so you’ll be thin & happy” or ”do it for the stares & to make people jealous”.
What bothers me is that professionals, trained professionals, should know that being happy & healthy are not necessarily the by products of weight loss (they can be, but not always). You CAN be obese and healthy (just like you can be thin and very unhealthy). Health is determined by your body’s ability to do its job properly & efficiently. NOT by your pants size. Happy is determined by your attitude & mindset - many people get to their goal weights without learning to love their body OR being ”happy” with it.
While obesity is ONE factor that MAY indicate a higher risk for certain illnesses, it is NOT a disease on its own. Exercising & eating well (plus sleeping better, reducing your stress, taking care of yourself) are associated with improved health, regardless of whether or not you lose a single pound.
There is a BIG difference between pounds you would lose for health purposes and pounds you would lose for vanity. The line between them shouldn’t be skewed. If I’m honest, I didn’t lose weight and I don’t workout the WAY I do for HEALTH reasons. I lost the weight for vanity purposes initially & I fell in love with fitness along the way: I like lifting heavy stuff and I like feeling strong. I go about it in a healthy fashion, and my health has gotten a boost from the behaviors I engage in. But make no mistake: I may be perfectly “healthy” going up a few pounds, still eating well and working out half as much as I do. That’s the truth.
There ARE people who’s health can be greatly improved with weight loss. I’m not saying there aren’t. But the emphasis on being a certain size, or getting to a certain weight, is NOT healthy. The subtle messages about being overweight that we are perpetuating (that you are not a good person, that you are not worthy, and that you MUST lose weight or your muffin top, cellulite, flabby arms etc. in order to be happy) is RIDICULOUS.
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to be trim, lean or fit. But there is something wrong about telling people they MUST be and then guilt tripping them with the ”health” umbrella. The fat-phobia that lies in our ”motivational” messages is contributing to a body shaming culture which is already saturated with messages that we’re not enough.
We need to move away from promoting body types & the ”fear” of being fat. We need to start promoting healthy behaviors across the board, weight loss or no.