It’s True: Body Positivity Isn’t An Excuse To Be Unhealthy

Bullshit FairyIn their column “Unpopular Opinion” xojane gave Rutvi Mehta the opportunity to engage in the same tired healthism, sizeism, and body positivity bashing that has been floated by many before her

The piece is called “Body Positivity Has Become an Excuse to Be Unhealthy” and the subtitle “If you hide under the gauzy blanket of body positivity to conceal your laziness and passivity, I feel sorry for you.” Riiiiiiight.

She spends the first part of the article discussing her history with weight cycling, her dislike of her own body, her vague understanding of the body positivity movement,and her choice to try to solve her issues with her body by manipulating its size and shape.  Of course that’s all fine, and none of it is any of my business except to say that I respect her right to make choices for her body precisely like I want my choices to be respected. Unfortunately, Rutvi seems to be struggling with that concept. Let’s take a look, shall we:

If there is one thing you have absolute control over, it is your body.

With any luck at all, this is the point when people realized that Rutvi has literally no idea what she is talking about (unless she can tell me how to become 6 feet tall when I need to reach the top shelf, let alone knowing what the research about weight loss shows) rolled their eyes so hard they saw their own brains, and then stopped reading.  But just in case they didn’t…

The compliments I’ve gotten since beginning my weight loss journey were not regarding my actual weight loss. Every single compliment I received acknowledged my perseverance and the fruitfulness of my efforts. That is so much more important than how drastically the landscape of my body has changed. If you go for a run five days a week for a month, there will eventually be results. If you work for something, there will definitely be results. That’s just how it works (thankfully).

Rutvi is allowed to believe whatever she wants about her own journey. What she cannot do, at least while remaining in any way credible, is make sweeping statements that suggest that she knows how everyone’s body will react to exercise. There are plenty of fat athletes who run five days a week or more and don’t lose weight. An inability to understand that your experience is not extrapolatable to everyone isn’t an “unpopular opinion,” it’s a failure of logic.

There is no excuse for snarking about another woman’s body because you lack the discipline to change your own body to your satisfaction.

By the exact same argument, there is no excuse for snarking about another woman’s body (including making assumptions about her level of discipline) because she isn’t interested in manipulating her body, because she is satisfied – even thrilled – with the body she has, or because she has jiggly thighs (more on that in a minute.) I would suggest that there is simply no excuse for snarking about another woman’s body.

If your only excuse is to hide under the gauzy blanket of body positivity in order to conceal your laziness and passivity, if saying “oh, I can have that body in two months” each time a sinfully hot woman walks past is your justification to yourself for your jiggly thighs, if you roll your eyes at your friend when she says she is proud of herself for sticking to her workout plan, I feel sorry for you.

Yeah, Maria Kang called and she wants her ridiculous bullshit back. PEOPLE DON’T NEED AN EXCUSE TO LOVE THEIR BODIES. If you don’t think that people should love their bodies because of their size, or health (by any definition,) then you are a sizeist and a healthist. If you visit that sizeism and healthism on others and/or try to convince other people to do the same, then you are not someone who holds an “unpopular opinion,” you are someone who is actively participating in marginalization and oppression. Obviously I can’t tell anyone what to do, but I for one think it would be just lovely if you would knock that shit off.

I won’t pretend to know what Rutvi is thinking, or what her motivations are, because I don’t.  I will say that, whenever I see this kind of sizeism and healthism and lashing out by people who are trying to manipulate their bodies – at people who love their bodies without trying to manipulate them – I always wonder if the real reason they are lashing out is that we refuse to buy into their belief that they are somehow superior because of their size/health/fitness/weight loss attempts.

People don’t need an excuse to love their bodies while being “lazy” or “passive” by whatever definition anyone is using.  People don’t need an excuse to love their bodies and never work out. People don’t need an excuse to love their jiggly thighs. People don’t need excuses to believe that their fat bodies are hot just as they are. People don’t need excuses to not give a single fuck about someone else’s workout plan or whether that person is sticking to it.  (And if they are rolling their eyes, perhaps that person needs to ask themselves why they are telling someone – who obviously didn’t ask and doesn’t care – about their workout plan?)

Health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances. Body positivity and “health” (by any definition) or “healthy habits” (by any definition) do not have to be related to each other in any way.

People are allowed to decide that their worth is somehow tied to how closely they are able to approximate the stereotype of beauty, or their “health” by whatever definition they are using, or how well they stick to their workout plan. What they aren’t allowed to do is suggest that everyone (or anyone) else has to buy into that.

If you need to engage in sizeism and healthism, if you need someone else to feel badly about themselves so you can feel good about yourself, if you need everyone to make the same choices as you in order to feel ok about your choices, then I feel sorry for you.

You are under no obligation to love your body, but you are absolutely allowed to love (or work on loving) the body you have – exactly as it is right now – no excuses needed.

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Published in: on April 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm  Comments (53)  

53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow – I have absolute control over my body? Cool! That means I can, by that absolute control and authority, change my skin from this pale Celtic heritage complexion to skin that doesn’t leave me at high risk for skin cancer. I can reduce my height for those times when I’m going to be stuck in airline coach seating for several hours, so that my long legs aren’t as uncomfortable (and, of course, change back to whatever height is advantageous for the next situation I encounter).

    Oh, and since I’m a man, and we men are obsessed about such things, I can magically make myself hung like the proverbial horse so that women will want me and other men will envy me (we need a “rolleyes” emoticon on here).

    Don’t y’all wish we lived in the fantasy world some of these people think we live in?

    Alas, I’ve had to learn to be content with my pale, easily burned and never tanned skin, the height I have grown to (and had no choice over), and the fact that I am never going to be hung like a horse (and never going to talk as though I am just to try and impress someone, either). I also refuse to be miserable because my body isn’t ever going to conform to some romance novel cover model ideal.

    • IKR? I had no idea that I could overcome the chronic joint pain I’ve lived with since my early teens (because I was ordered to gut it out instead of receiving basic medical care) through WILL POWAH. Silly me!

      While I’m at it, I’m going to adjust my bust size to an easier-to-fit number and fix my inseam so I’m no longer too tall for regular jeans and too short for tall jeans.

      Oooh, oooh, and migraines! I’ll just go turn off my migraines now.

      Good grief.

    • Total control over my body! So I can find a balance of gender presentations that fits my shifting non-binary needs without having to use binders or look into hormones or surgery?

      All I needed all this time was WILLPOWAH.

      Wooo!

    • If I have complete control over my body, why would I waste that kind of power being merely *thin?” I want to be able to breathe and survive at the bottom of the ocean, and also in space, and be able to fly.

      • Not just breathe underwater – how about manipulating our form to be more powerful swimming? If I have complete control over my body, then I won’t need all that scuba gear to go diving. I’ll just morph into an orca and be perfectly suited for the ocean environment!

        • OMG yes! I want to shapeshift into a Kraken.

  2. I will use that total body control to spontaneously repair my congenital hip dysplasia. I could walk perfectly if I TRIED hard enough. //sarcasm

    • All my life, I thought my ability to engage in vigorous exercise would always be sporadic, barring a genuine cure for asthma. Now I find I have absolute control, and all those hospital visits and nights spent trying to sleep sitting up were just a lame excuse for laziness!

  3. Oh, well if I have complete control over my body that means I don’t need to worry about being NPO right now because I don’t actually need to have my urologist play human claw machine with my kidney stones in a few hours. Good to know. *ryeroll*

  4. “if…. then I feel sorry for you” is a great way to know that you’re engaging with someone who has a superiority complex.
    I wrote a blog post earlier this week about how health or a lack of health has nothing to do with whether or not you are allowed to be okay with yourself.
    Even with the full understanding that you’ll never know someone’s health just by looking at them and chub or lack of it is no indicator– if you’re not a healthy person, then what? Then you aren’t allowed to love yourself? You HAVE to hate yourself? That’s really fucked up.

  5. Love you. Love this response.
    As you know, I’ve been going through some body image difficulties lately, and I know that part of the problem is trying to exist in a culture that CONSTANTLY encourages me (and every other person) to scrutinize our bodies for socially-prescribed “flaws” and compare them with others, and I thought how blissfully lovely it would be to just NOT THINK ABOUT MY BODY so much. I mean, it’d be fine and perfectly logical to worry about it if something were wrong with it, but in the course of an average day, I would rather NOT think about my body and how it looks or particularly, how it looks in comparison to others’ bodies, and instead, focus on OTHER things that make up my day/life.

  6. Well shoot, if I’d known I had complete control over my body, I would’ve regrown my gall bladder ages ago and made my legs/feet a bit shorter so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time finding things to fit them. I never knew!

  7. Gaaaahhhh! Seriously, for me the gateway to accepting my own body has been realizing that “moderately healthy eating and exercise habits will always give you a socially acceptable sized\shaped body” is a TOTAL MYTH that even otherwise rational people perpetuate throughout our society. (Still working on internalizing that realization). “You have total control over your own body” is complete, mind-exploding un-reality and also ableist AF.

  8. Wow. Same shit, different day.

    I can’t know what’s going on in this person’s brain, but I can tell you that when “controlling” my body (i.e. size) was most important to me, I felt like it was the ONLY thing under my control. Just saying.

  9. Complete control over my body? I’d be a bit taller than the 5’1 I currently am. I’d not have rosacea. I’d be able to grow long, thick, silky hair and I’d NOT have thyroid disease. Yeah–I have complete control of my body. Those days spent in a fetal position, in tears, due to electrical shocks coursing through my body–I just do that for kicks.

    “An inability to understand that your experience is not extrapolatable to everyone isn’t an “unpopular opinion,” it’s a failure of logic.”

    I love that comment. I say this ALL the time for all kinds of situations. I have to remind people all the time–“Your experience does not dictate mine!”

  10. This reminds me of the body currency theory that I think the Militant Baker wrote about – when people who are pissed off at other people for achieving or striving for body acceptance (aka body currency) because it’s like they went to the front of the line without doing all the “hard work” that they perceive themselves to be doing to earn everyone’s nod of approval. Nobody needs an “excuse” to be healthy or unhealthy either – that’s nobody’s business. Her whole article seems like a sad cry for attention – “Look at me! I’m worthy because I worked for your approval! Approve me! Love me!” Go love yourself, Rutvi.

    • people who are pissed off at other people for achieving or striving for body acceptance because it’s like they went to the front of the line without doing all the “hard work”

      I never though of it that way before. So good.
      And it kind of explains this statement, which is a lie:

      “If you hide under the gauzy blanket of body positivity to conceal your laziness and passivity, I feel sorry for you.”
      I think where she said ‘sorry for’ she really meant ‘loathing towards’ instead.

      • Loathing towards and hatred for, yep.

        Sorry, in this usage, means pity. And she doesn’t pity us. She doesn’t pity people who are happy with themselves. She doesn’t pity people who are unhappy with themselves, but unable to achieve the “completely controllable” result of diet and exercise. She just hates fat people, full stop.

        • Because jiggly thighs, apparently, which is frank and outrageous fat-shaming.

    • Oooh, thanks for bringing that article up:) I’ll post it here for those who don’t know where to find it❤

      http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2015/01/why-people-hate-tess-munster-and-other.html

  11. Thank you! I continue to really appreciate your very thoughtfully written articles that distill all the BS we hear out there.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    Suzanne Sherrill

    On Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 9:07 AM, Dances With Fat wrote:

    > danceswithfat posted: “In their column “Unpopular Opinion” xojane gave > Rutvi Mehta the opportunity to engage in the same tired healthism, sizeism, > and body positivity bashing that has been floated by many before her. > The piece is called “Body Positivity Has Become an Excuse t” >

  12. “If there is one thing you have absolute control over, it is your body.”

    So. much. wrong. in one short quote.😦

    Leaving aside weight, height, etc., has she never heard of this concept called illness? Which can often be chronic and disabling and cause so many things that are out of one’s control?

    Thank you for writing this column.

  13. I just wanted to thank you not only for this column, but for everything you write. I first came here because I wanted to understand more about body positivity/size acceptance, and I have indeed learned a lot. But I’ve found that many of your ideas can be translated to other areas of life, too — basically, anywhere you get the message “you don’t get to love yourself until you are [insert socially approved quality here].” Thank you for sharing your consistently well-reasoned refutations of these pervasive messages.

  14. As someone who has been unhealthy for literally my entire life, with chronic pain, and dizzy spells since adolescence, and a poor immune system, and who got fat (just like the rest of my family), by the time I hit puberty, but the bad health CAME FIRST, I am just disgusted by all the “it’s about your health” BS that she and people like her spout off.

    This is my message to her: “You don’t give a CRAP about my health. If you did, you’d stop wasting your time telling me to control something that NEVER was in my control! You’re not telling me to control my HEALTH. You’re telling me to control my SIZE, and that’s not the same thing! I’ve lost lots of weight over the years (it all came back, and brought some friends with it, just like about 66% of human dieters do), and guess what? No matter how much I lost, or what my size became, I was STILL SICK!!! ALWAYS! Dieting never made it better! It did make the dizziness worse, and the headaches worse and the all-around misery worse. When I was dieting, my immune system, already poor, became downright awful. Dieting made my health WORSE. Exercising made me stronger, with more stamina, but it did NOTHING for my pain, my dizziness, or my immune system. It just did not. You know nothing about MY body, so shut up about MY body, and I won’t bother you about yours.”

    She makes me so mad, I just want to spit in her eye. That, however, would be rude, and unlike her, I respect her bodily autonomy.

    • Exactly. EXACTLY. Hear, hear, Michelle!

      People who don’t suffer from chronic pain so often have NO CLUE AT ALL of what it’s like to live with chronic pain and to have done so since childhood. In my case, for various reasons, walking hurts. Always has, always will. When I was very little, I remember, I was puzzled by the story of the Little Mermaid in my book of fairy tales, because it seemed to imply that there was something odd or unusual about her having severe pain when she walked on her new legs. I honestly thought that EVERYONE felt pain when they walked — I always did, so it had never occurred to me that other people didn’t.

      I deal with it. I take long walks because I love being out of doors, I love the scenery on my favorite walks, and I love walking with my husband. And I know that walking is just about the best thing I can do to control my glucose levels, so yes, it’s about my health as well. But it’s always a trade-off of balancing the enjoyment and importance of the walk against the degree of pain I experience on a particular day. It just infuriates me beyond measure when people assume that I could “just” exercise more, or that because I’m fat I’m “lazy,” and they never even consider that just the simple act of walking causes me a degree of pain that would have most of them yelping and rushing to lie down.

      I don’t fault those who are lucky enough not to suffer chronic pain for not thinking about what it’s like for those of us who do — but I DO fault people who make assumptions as ridiculous as “your body is completely under your control.”

      • Yeah, and I blame those people who don’t believe you when you say, “I have chronic pain,” and tell you that if you just did X, Y, or Z (which, of course, you’ve ALREADY TRIED, along with A-M), then all your pain would magically go away, so you’re really just using it as an excuse. Yeah, I hate that.

      • Before my wife’s first hip replacement surgery, one orthopedist told her he wanted her to lose 90 pounds before he would do the surgery (she had congenital hip dysplasia). When my wife asked what exercises she could do to help lose weight and strengthen the muscles around the joint, the doctor said, “If it hurts, don’t do it.”

        That was sure helpful, because EVERYTHING HURT (the hip was ready to spontaneously dislocate because of how poorly the joint had formed before birth, and had not been diagnosed when she was young enough that it could have been corrected).

        This was also the doctor that told her she should be able to easily (yeah, he actually said “easily”) lose that 90 pounds by losing ten pounds a month for six months. We hoped he was a hell of a lot better at surgery than he was at math.

        We also found a different orthopedist.

        • What a stupid ass doctor.

    • I know what you mean about not being healthy, I also have chronic pain, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and that’s what kills me about all this, so many people want to agree with body positivity with the requirement “as long as you’re healthy” I’m not healthy. Exercising hurts. Walking hurts.
      I run a Fibromyalgia Body Positive Support group on Facebook. It focuses on Fibro, but really anybody is welcome, Chronic Pain is Chronic Pain is Chronic Pain. Just do a Facebook Search for “Fibromyalgia Body Positive Support” I have a Page that you can “Like” and a group you can request to join, where the conversations are private.

      • If I bothered with Facebook, I would totally do that! Thanks! If I ever get into Facebook, I’ll look it up.

  15. This part: “Every single compliment I received acknowledged my perseverance and the fruitfulness of my efforts.”

    Really caught my attention. It shows she is doing this because she is receiving the ‘good fatty praise’.

    She may also think she can control her body, but she is definitely getting pats on the head from other people, which makes me think that is part of why she is doing this.

    Also, how dare she assume we are all secretly snarking about other women’s bodies? I completely hate it when someone makes up shit about what I am thinking.

    I admit to occasional bouts of jealousy, but it is about stuff I will flat out never have because, like everything else in life, I don’t have complete control over my body. If I did, I would be a shapeshifter and hunted down by the government.

    • Yeah, I love (sarcasm) how she assumes “body positive” women snark about other women’s bodies.

      Clearly, she has no clue what the body positive movement IS. Body positive people don’t snark about ANYBODY’S body.

      And yeah, the occasional bout of jealousy, for someone who is enjoying privilege you don’t, and probably will never, have, is completely different than snarking about thin people’s bodies.

    • I’m jealous every time I see women with little busts who can wear button-down shirts right off the (no pun intended) rack.

      The thing is, my bust was big when I was thin too.

      • And women are paying big bucks to have their busts enhanced because they’re jealous of your bust size.

        According to the crazy standards, women are supposed to be skinny everywhere but their boobs, which should be as big as humanly possible. Never mind backaches, raw shoulders from bra strap burn, difficulties finding clothing that fits, rude comments from other people who see nothing but breasts, etc.

        • Bra strap burn? With today’s strapless styles? Nope. Those big boobs are supposed to be perpetually perky, and not even need a bra.

          • Yeah, but I foolishly stopped being 17 years old. Has advertising taught me nothing?

          • I just recall what I was told by a woman who had undergone breast reduction surgery. Granted, I don’t know how far back that went, and having never needed to wear a bra myself, I’m not familiar with how well the latest styles might have alleviated that problem.

            It’s not really considered appropriate to approach a large-busted woman and ask about such things as the comfort level of her bra. Granted, a woman here at work thought it was perfectly acceptable to ask me what I was wearing under my kilt…

            • The problem with modern fashion is that the models are encouraged to be very, VERY thin, and in order to have the clothes hang as flat as possible (because curves are harder to design, you know. Truth), they also tend to have very small breasts. Which is fine.

              However, if the fashion designers design for small bosoms, the women who have large bosoms either can’t wear the fashionable designs, at all, or else they have to make adjustments.

              I have seen thin women with big boobs shopping at Lane Bryant, just to get a top they can fit over their breasts, and then they have to alter the waist, hips, sleeves, etc, to fit their thin bodies. BUT, if you ask them about their breasts (not rudely, as a conversation starter, but it does tend to come up in conversation, usually while they are complaining about the problems of being big breasted), they’ll say that they considered breast reduction surgery, but their male significant others didn’t want them to do it, or that their male significant others had encouraged breast enlargement, and basically, a large proportion of large-breasted women are dealing with fashion problems, trying to get into clothes designed for small-breasted women, who don’t need bras, at all, because their men want the big boobs.

              If only there were some boob-obsessed men designing fashionable clothes for women… And while we’re at it, can we get some fashion designers who love hips and butts and thighs? Please? OH! And the buddha belly! I KNOW there are people out there who like a belly, but the fashion designers who actually have lines in most stores, easily available for wide consumption, are all about flat bellies. Flat everything.

              It’s hard to be a fashionable curvy woman, no matter what size you are. And no, I do NOT use “curvy” as a euphemism for fat. See previous bit about thin women with big breasts. Curvy just means you have lots of roundness to you, regardless of the circumference of those circles.

              I do know that women who have breast reduction surgery do say it alleviates a lot of physical problems.

  16. “If you go for a run five days a week for a month, there will eventually be results. If you work for something, there will definitely be results. That’s just how it works (thankfully).”

    This is called the Just World fallacy: the belief, in spite of incontrovertible evidence otherwise, that everyone gets out of the world exactly what they put into it. It’s widely believed. Unfortunately “widely believed,” and “true” are not always synonyms.

    http://psychology.about.com/od/jindex/f/just-world-phenomenon.htm

    “The just-world phenomenon is a term referring to people’s tendency to believe that the world is just and that people get what they deserve. Because people want to believe that the world is fair, they will look for ways to explain or rationalize away injustice – often by blaming the victim.

    Those with this belief tend to think that when bad things happen to people, it is because these individuals are bad people or have done something to deserve their misfortune. Conversely, this belief also leads people to think that when good things happen to people it is because those individuals are good and deserving of their happy fortune.” – from posted article

    The number-one symptom of a just-world mentality is *victim blaming*… the kind Rutvi displayed when she projected cruel and catty thoughts into the head of the fat women she berates and accuses to justify berating and accusing them (she also totally ignored that fat *men* suffer much of the same discrimination, which is thrown into especially stark relief after that whole American Eagle debacle). Her whole argument is that we can’t be oppressed because we’re *bringing it all on ourselves* by being a litany of horrible things she associates with bad people.

    The fact is, bad things happen to people who don’t “deserve” it all the time, and you do not have control over whether you are going to be one of those people.

    (Also, I wouldn’t call being fat a bad thing.)

    • Wow — that’s a fallacy of which I’ve never even heard and one that reminds me of an incredibly offensive comment my dad made recently.

      Possible trigger below:

      He basically said that everyone has the same opportunities in life, so, if you’re poor, it’s because you’re lazy. I was very offended by that statement, but didn’t want to start a fight, and was leaving soon anyway.

      How convenient of him to say such tripe when he’s a heterosexual white male living in a society dominated by heterosexual white males.

      Had I brought that rebuttal up, he would have said that it is just an excuse and people playing victims. He earnestly believes that the people of today are too soft and weak, that we can’t say anything without offending someone somewhere. Ugh.

      Gee, Dad, maybe it’s not that people are more whiny in today’s world, but more outspoken about the indignities they face, whereas they’d keep quiet in your day.

      Such ignorance. I’ve come to learn that my dad is not a very happy person, and never has been, which could explain his ignorant attitude.

      • “Everyone has the same opportunities in life”?! Seriously?

        What world does he live on, and how do I get there?

        I’m sure there are some crack-babies who would beg to differ with that statement, to name JUST ONE example of his being dead wrong. They don’t even START on an even playing field, let alone continue. It’s not that they cannot ever succeed (by whatever means they determine their personal success). It’s that they have enormous struggles that the “average” person does not, and they do NOT have all the advantages or opportunities that the “average” person has, and there’s just so much wrong in this statement I can’t even not-even at it.

        Everyone has the same number of hours in a day. Yes. That’s about as far as I’ll allow that argument to go. And I’ll also throw back that people operate at different speeds, because some have more energy, strength, stamina, flexibility, height (it takes time to get out a step-stool every time you want to get something out of the cabinet), ability, and so on and so forth, and there are lots of things that will slow a person down, so that even if they have the same amount of time, they cannot possibly fit as much into that same amount of time as other people with more advantages can.

        So even the time argument is fallacious.

        I’m sorry you had to live with that.

        • Yes, I’m serious — my dad actually said that. He is a caring, kind person overall, but also very ignorant, as you can see. I think he has been taken advantage of for much of his life in some form or another, and is deeply wounded, though he will likely never admit it. None of this makes his behavior OK but could explain it.

          He thinks that people who take medication for mental issues are “weak”, yet he admitted that he drinks a lot, in part to medicate himself, IMO.

          “Hurting people hurt people.”

          • People are weird that way, aren’t they? They’re not all good or all bad, and plenty of people, if not most, are basically good, but problematic in one area or another.

            On the positive side, there’s always the ability to improve one’s soul.

  17. “If you go for a run five days a week for a month, there will eventually be results.”

    Sure. Results including “serious injury” since that’s a fairly intense workout schedule to start all at once, and “weight gain” since it turns out muscle is actually heavy. Also possibly improved cardiovascular fitness and endurance, but why would that be important when it could cause magical weightloss?

    • I went walking and not running, but I got results! I slept better.

      Whaddaya mean that doesn’t count?

      • It “doesn’t count,” because fat-haters don’t care how well you sleep, how well-controlled your blood-sugar levels are, or your cholesterol, general heart condition, lung capacity, strength, stamina, or any other health indicators. They ONLY care about your size.

        Because “fat is unhealthy, and we are so CONCERNED about your health, and you’re going to DIIIIEEEEE!”

        Like thin people are immortal. Pfft.

        • Back when I thought I might do a series on the weekly Greatest Diets Ever!!!11!! in Woman’s World, I accumulated a stack of them. I noticed a pattern: a good portion of them were diets that actually made people more vigorous, lowered their blood pressure, improved thyroid function, etc., but none of that mattered because thinnety thin thin THINNNNNNN. The strong implication was that if the diet improved somebody’s health in myriad ways but did not make them thin, they had failed.

          Every diet in the magazine is tied to a book or pill or some other product. One of the authors submitted a picture of herself walking a marathon, after years of near-paralysis due to chronic depression. Awesome, right? Except that this was her before picture. Because fat.

          • What was her after picture? A thin person sitting on a couch in her pajamas, because she doesn’t have the energy to get up and dress, and she’s massively depressed? But THIN!

            Ugh.

            I like “hyperbole and a half” and her explanation of how she got up from rock bottom in a bout of depression. She reached the point where she didn’t care what anyone thought about how she looked, and that “Eff YOU” attitude gave her the energy to get up and DO stuff again. Because that energy and attitude of actually caring about oneself is much more important than looks, be it thinness, or make-up, or shaving the legs, or putting on fashionable clothes, or even brushing the hair. Hygiene is important, because poor hygiene can lead to infections. But the looks-only stuff? Nope. Not as important. And that realization brought her back to life.

            I almost want to read that article you mentioned, with the marathon-running fat woman as the “before” picture, because I want to see if she has any positivity, at all, about anything other than weight-loss. But I’m afraid she won’t.

            • I pitched all those back issues. She basically blames herself for calorie restriction diets having done to her what they typically do, and for not being able to find the correct medication regime for her depression which is a thing that often happens, and for having gained weight in pregnancy (SCREAM)…but now that she is on a calorie restriction scheme that reads like the Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment she will at last be okay.

              She mentions having gone from stuck on the couch to doing a walkathon, and from isolated and apathetic to reaching out to friends, as just steps on the way to her true okayness (=thin).

              • Fears confirmed. Yikes. Also, sad.

                And that Minnesota experiment is terrifying! A guy chopped off his fingers, and couldn’t even say why.

                All of the participants were screened for mental health issues before they began the starvation. It was the starvation that made that guy crack.

                There are oodles of people with completely unavoidable mental issues, and we need to offer as much help and support to them as possible. Adding to their number, by pushing diets that are completely avoidable and make you have serious mental repercussions is just… I don’t even have a word bad enough for that. Add in PTSD from abuse heaped on fat people, and you get an unholy mess of epic proportions.

                You know, if the diet industry spent its billions of dollars on research to cure or at least treat the wide variety of mental illnesses out there, the world would be a much better place.

                Body positivity is about mental and emotional health, too, and those are just as, if not more, important than physical health! Because we’re all going to die, sooner or later. It’s what we do with the time we have that matters. Thinness does not equal immortality, but if you’re not naturally thin, then forcing yourself into that size might just equal a whole lot of misery. And that’s just not right.

  18. I’m continuing the thread just above, because it’s getting too squished on the side to read comfortably.

    When I was dieting, I would cry for no reason for hours, and no one knew why. Everyone thought I was just overentitled or messed up in the head. Not even the psychologist we saw twice could figure out anything. I think this is also part of the starvation psychosis that Ancel Keys discovered, where our minds go haywire when not fed enough.

    According to some bandied about statistic, 90% of Americans are dieting at any one time. Does this explain the messed up economy, morality, how we treat out neighbours, scientific discoveries, education systems, etc?

    • Makes sense to me.

      Also, yeah, it was too squishy. Thanks for that.

    • Yep. And it can turn into a vicious cycle, since mental illness of various kinds can play havoc with hunger signals even if you’re trying to eat more or less intuitively. So you have social pressure telling you warped things about food, and a body that doesn’t really know how to tell you what it needs anymore.


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