If we allow women to love their bodies regardless of their size then they will never take good care of them!
So many wrong things, let’s break it down:
If we allow? Allow? ALLOW? The idea that women need to be treated like toddlers, told what we are and are not allowed to do “for our own good”, and that fat women should be treated like toddlers in time-out for not obeying is so incredibly fucked there aren’t sufficient words to describe it. Women don’t need anyone’s permission to love our bodies (or to not love them.) Anyone who thinks that it’s their job to be telling women, who haven’t asked them, what those women are and are not allowed to do can immediately and completely turn their attention to their own lives and the lives of people who care what they think.
But the most insidious part of this lie is that if women love our bodies we won’t take good care of them. If you think that sounds ridiculous, consider it phrased this way “if we don’t keep women in a constant state of self-loathing, they’ll never be healthy.” Obviously that makes no sense, people are not including to take care of things that we hate and that includes our bodies. But the way that it’s implemented is even worse. Fat women (and, in many ways, children of all sizes) are bombarded with the message “Your body is ugly, disgusting, and a sign of your inferior beauty, intellect, and moral character. Now, take really good care of it!” And society insists that this is a reasonable public health message.
Not only that, but often the idea of “taking care of” our bodies is freely substituted with the concept of “making our bodies thin.” While this message is incredibly profitable (the weight loss industry is making over $60 Billion and that number goes up every year, in no small part because dieting doesn’t work), it’s simply not true and it leads to people doing really unhealthy things – partially under the mistaken belief that if those unhealthy things make them thin, then they will somehow also make them healthy – and partially so that they’ll finally be “allowed” to stop hating themselves. Again, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the backbone of diet culture.
Scratching the surface we find that the deeper we go, the worse this idea is. The concept of “taking care of ourselves” is tossed around like it’s simple, and the same for everyone. Let’s be clear that “taking care of ourselves” by any definition is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness. Beyond that, the idea of “taking care of ourselves” is very complex and multi-faceted, and not entirely within our control.
Access is a major issue – not everyone can afford/obtain the foods that they want to eat or the movement options that they might like to try. In the United States where I live, access to medical care is predicated upon having enough money to afford it, being able to get time off of work to get to the doctor, and finding a doctor who doesn’t operate from a place of stereotyping, prejudice, and shame and subsequent victim-blaming and it’s not easy.
If we want to take care of ourselves by living in an environment where we are not constantly told to hate ourselves or subjected to prejudice, shame, stigma, bullying, and harassment, many of us are out of luck since racism, sizeism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism and more run rampant and are largely ignored by public health (and in some cases, as in the argument that we must make sure that women hate themselves “for their health” it actually exacerbates it.)
Anyone who tells us that hating our body is part of the practice of taking care of ourselves is grossly uninformed, a liar, trying to sell us something, or some combination thereof. Regardless, we do not have to buy into this. You have the right, but no obligation, to decide what “taking care of your body” means for you, and how highly you want to prioritize it, and whose opinion about it you want to hear. You may not have access to all of the things that you need/want to take care of yourself and, though that may become your problem, you don’t have to buy into the idea that it’s your fault.
You have every right to make these decisions for yourself, you don’t need anyone to “allow” you. You have every right to love your body and you have every right to consider loving your body,part of taking good care of it.
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