Two things hit the news this week (well, on a twitter level anyway) that are related in a way like you’re related to someone you bump into in the street.
The first story was the trending of #PlusSizeAppreciation on Twitter.
The second story was about a report launched by the WHO stating that Europe is heading for an obesity epidemic by 2030. The timing of these two stories led to the unfortunate occurrence of my ears hearing a comment that did not sit well with me:
“People should not be promoting such unhealthy body sizes, displaying the problem cases as ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’ is wrong and will only make the problem worse.”
The thing that gets under my skin is the suggestion that someone who weighs in above a certain number on the scales, cannot be beautiful. The implication being that saying that fat people are beautiful is the same as saying that you’re proud of being a smoker. “You wouldn’t tweet a photo of yourself smoking with #SmokerAppreciation.” The difference being that smoking is an unhealthy addictive habit and the powers that be have done as much possible to make it uncool, expensive and forbidden in public spaces. This seems to be a good approach to changing public behaviour in relation to something that is unhealthy.
Following this logic, I fully agree that fast food and fizzy drinks should also be forced to display health warnings and should be banned from advertising their products. This along with awareness campaigns about what consuming these products does to your body should have the desired effect. (To anyone trying to kick a fast food habit, I suggest reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, you’ll never set foot in a Micky D’s again.)
We live in a society where money talks and we are constantly being marketed processed foods laden with sugar, salt and a lot more nasty chemicals. All of the information we receive about which foods we should eat, comes from the people who are trying to sell us their ‘food’. It seems that Mother Nature needs a better marketing manager, however movies like That Sugar Film go a small way to helping her out.
Keeping in mind that Anti-Diet Day was also this week, I am not going to say we need to diet. We just need to learn how to eat well, and do that every day, forever. In my mind, fad diets are the corset of our generation, a tool to keep women quiet, meek and unsure of themselves. As I read once on an Amanda Palmer t-shirt: “All that time I save in hair removal, I devote to revolution” (Jane Fraser). Women need to believe in themselves and love themselves and focus on being the best and the happiest they can be. “Riot Not Diet.”
A statistic that scared the hell out of me is that the number one wish of girls aged 11 to 17, is to be thinner. If you are so focused on losing weight, your priority is not eating healthily.
This is why our focus needs to be on eating healthily as opposed to getting skinnier, because unhealthy eaters come in all shapes and sizes. Thankfully there are some powerful ladies campaigning for being healthy and happy as priorities above measuring the size of your waist. (Including the wonderful and inspiring Marie Southard Ospina pictured above.)
A study last year proved that body shaming can lead to weight gain and damages motivation levels. “Our study clearly shows that weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution”, said the study’s senior author. Feeling self confident and loving yourself are great motivators to take good care of yourself and this is what we need to aim towards.
My point is, people should love themselves and feel loved no matter how they look. We should all work on loving ourselves more because, you know what, life is hard enough without beating yourself up. I am sure the WHO also has some pretty staggering figures in relation to depression and suicide in young people so let’s do anything we can to make everyone feel loved and happy.
The WHO highlighted a possible future health risk so we should look at the cause of this; the cause is the crappy processed foods that make up 85% of what is sold in our supermarkets (I made up that figure but it feels about right). So the higher powers should take on the food giants the same way they took on the tobacco giants, then we have some chance of making people healthier and happier. Body shaming overweight people or making them feel they should hide themselves away under black tent-dresses, does nothing to address the issue highlighted by the WHO.
And that, my friend, is why I am a fan of the #PlusSizeAppreciation movement.
First published on Charlie.