A small study found that fat women who like their bodies have better sex than fat women who don’t. I spent some time trying to muster surprise but I just can’t find any. One of the things that I will never understand is these people who insist that not only do we have to be thin to be healthy, but that the only way to do that is to hate the bodies that we have now. The concept of hating ourselves healthy and or thin (two separate things, let’s remember) has always seemed ridiculous to me. In fact, the concept of attempting to make any choices from a basis of self-loathing seems like a terrible idea.
We live in a culture where people consider weight bullying to be everything from a public service to a super fun past-time, and where billion dollar industries make their money by convincing us that we are not good enough and that we should be terrified of never being good enough (and that we should buy their products to try to get better or at least keep from getting worse.) People of all sizes internalize that message and that’s a problem because people don’t take good care of things that they hate and that includes their bodies.
One of the things about Size Acceptance that I think is undervalued for people of all sizes is the option to like yourself right now, exactly as you are, and then make choices for your health and your life. The idea that you can build a life from a perspective of liking and appreciating your body, rather than hoping that you can do something, buy something, be something – anything – to just hate yourself a little less.
If we, as a culture, really want to look at public health threats then I think that we should take all of the time, money and attention that is currently focused on body size and instead focus it on those who spread a message of body shame and self-loathing – from the weight bullies to the “for your own good-ers” These people are the true public health threat. They try to convince us that our bodies are unworthy, and if they succeed it means that people often believe that their bodies are unworthy of care. They create an environment where people are scared to move their bodies for fear of shaming, scared to go to the doctor for fear of being ignored, shamed or made the non-consenting subject of experimental medical treatments. They create an environment where our food choices are moralized and scrutinized by strangers, and we are told that our own bodies can’t be trusted and should be ignored in lieu of advice that seems highly questionable.
People who perpetuate self -loathing and who engage in weight bullying (under any guise including “trying to help” or “for your own good” or “for the good of society”) are a real and direct threat to public health and it’s time to stop focusing on the bodies of other people and start focusing on changing a culture that encourages self-loathing as the gateway to the good life.
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