Misconceptions about body positivity

Although we haven’t been on our body positive journey long, we’ve dove head first into the deep end. It’s the best thing we have done to free ourselves from the body image and diet prison we were locked in. We have already received judgemental messages and negative comments on social media and from those around us. Negative comments were something we 100% expected when we chose to give ourselves a voice and speak out about our experience and posting images of ourselves online. For people have no experience with body positivity, it cam be a confusing concept. Many people misunderstand body positivity as promoting obesity, encouraging unhealthy habits and dissuade exercising. However, this is far from the truth. So we thought we’d cover some common misconceptions about body positivity.

1

Body positivity is only for women

Not at all. Although many body positive activists in the media are woman, body positivity is about including every gender. Men often get excluded from the body positive movement as many aren’t as vocal about it as women. I guess the fact men have been taught not to show emotion or share their insecurities. Men experience the same body judgements and social expectations. We should encourage men to join the movement, give them a space to share their story and be a role model for other men.

No wonder you’re overweight if you don’t believe in diets

Just because we don’t believe in diets doesn’t mean we stuff our faces with all the so-called “bad” foods. Diets cause disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food. Dieting is a full-time job, it requires you to restrict your food, count calories, punish your body with exercise. All similar characteristics of eating disorders.

We believe in eating intuitively; eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not. You don’t and shouldn’t label foods as “good” or “bad”. Food is food and should be eaten when we’re hungry. Intuitive eating is learning to listen to your body and it’s hunger levels. Understanding whether you need a light snack, meal or you’re not really hungry you’re maybe just bored. And learning to know when to stop eating if you’re full instead of eating everything in sight. It’s not easy training your mind to listen to your body after all the years we’ve been going against our natural instinct and ignoring the signals your body is giving you. It takes time, patience and practise. It’s helpful to research into intuitive eating to help understand more. If you want to learn more – 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Can I still be body positive and exercise?

The simple answer is, of course you can. We’re in no ways saying that you should quit all exercise or physical activity and sit on your arse all day (unless you wanna). Exercise is obviously beneficial for your well-being and can be a great way to promote your health. The only problem with exercise being the ideals of what and how you should stay fit can become unhealthy. Diet culture and social media have created the idea that the only way to exercise is to train like a body builder, be strong not skinny and ensure it causes you physical pain since, ‘no pain no gain’, right? Exercise has become solely for the purposes of weight loss but it doesn’t have to be. Body positive exercise should be to increase your health not to decrease your dress size. Exercise should be enjoyable and fun, it shouldn’t be seen as punishment for that ‘naughty’ binge you had at the weekend. By all means exercise, but never punish your body or think that you NEED to work out to improve your physical appearance.

Art by Frances Cannon

But being fat is not healthy?

Within just two weeks of creating our Instagram account we received a comment suggesting that we could not treat our bodies with love because being overweight is unhealthy. This person had never met us personally but made the assumption that because we are fat, we must be unhealthy. Weight does not equal health. “Health is so much more than the one-dimensional image we have been given by the media to aspire to” (Megan Jayne Crabbe – Body Positive Power). You cannot know if a person is healthy or not just by looking at them. Fat people can be healthy. Skinny people can be unhealthy.

Did you know obesity research is funded by the weight loss industry? Meaning their sales go through the roof after people reading these articles screaming about how dangerous fat is. And did you know the BMI number for overweight was lowered from 27.3 to 25. Meaning millions of people became overweight without gaining a pound. 8 out of the 9 people responsible for this decision had connections to the weight loss industry meaning they could financially gain from all these more people being classed as overweight. Ludicrous right?

Believing that overweight equals unhealthy is a very easy assumption to make in our society. But the truth is there is so much more to health than a person’s weight.  Nonetheless, being physically or mentally unhealthy does not mean that you are unworthy of self-love. Being body positive with the requirement of health is not body positive. Everyone, regardless to health is worthy of self-love. We all know someone who eats junk food 24/7, never exercises and stays thin so why are people so reluctant to believe someone who eats healthily, exercises and stays fat?

Learning to love yourself is hard and you’re constantly getting knocked back, due to the constant reminders you see telling you life will begin once you lose weight, bollocks to that! We’re not wasting another moment buying into the bullshit. Self love isn’t going to happen over night, but it neither did hating yourself happen overnight. You have to allow yourself to heal all your past pain and get in touch with yourself.

Some of you may think ‘I could never love myself’. You can and we believe in you.There will be times where you may experience negative comments first hand or see/hear them. You may catch yourself wondering if they’re right and if you should just give in and resort back to hating your body and damaging your mental health. Even we have those days; “Is it worth it? Is it worth all of these hostile comments? Can I cope with the pressure of having to be that strong, powerful figure?” Yes, it is worth it. It is such an empowering community, where everyone is accepted, supported and encouraged to love themselves. It promotes self-love, self-care and self-worth at any size, race or ability. If we can help and educate another person to be happy within their own skin, we come one step closer to making the world a better place.

All our love, CP and SJ

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