Jun 21, 2022
Is the Body Positivity Movement a Good Thing
Body positivity refers to the assertion that all people can and should have a positive body image. This thought is regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance.
Some of the goals of the body positivity movement include:
- Challenging how society views the body
- Promoting the acceptance of all bodies
- Helping people build confidence and acceptance of their own bodies
Body positivity also aims to help people understand how popular media messages contribute to the relationship that we have with our bodies, including how we feel about food, exercise, clothing, health, identity, and self-care.
By better understanding the effect that such influences have, the hope is that we can develop a healthier and more realistic relationship with our bodies.
Body positivity has its roots in the fat acceptance movement of the late 1960s. Fat acceptance focuses on ending the culture of fat-shaming and discrimination against people based upon their size or body weight. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance was first established in 1969 and continues to work to change how people talk about weight.
One of the major goals of body positivity is to address some of the ways that body image influences mental health and well-being. Having a healthy body image plays a role in how we feel about our appearance and even how we judge our self-worth. Research suggests that having a negative body image is associated with an increased risk for some mental conditions including depression and eating disorders.
Here is where we can start to form an opinion to the question – Is the body positivity movement a good thing? The difficulty arises when we must bring the focus around to our health, our vitality, and our longevity. The path I travel as a healthcare provider is always to encourage positive body image with a substantial caveat – how does it effect our health?
My concern as a Doctor is to limit the complete acceptance of all body sizes and shapes. There are some that would like to say all bodies are beautiful. This faction does not concern itself with the overall health consequences of carrying excess weight or relying on inadequate nutrition. Unfortunately, we can say all bodies are beautiful right up until the first heart attack, the first stroke, or the first diagnosis of diabetes. Then life must get serious very quickly.
Would we not be more prudent to focus on beauty being more than the obvious external features of a person? Yes, absolutely correct. We can have beautiful kindness, beautiful intelligence, and beautiful passion for our work. However, we cannot allow that concept of body positivity and body acceptance to dominate our concern for health.
We walk a fine line with this concept of body positivity. While we can accept all bodies in all shapes and sizes, we cannot allow that acceptance to extinguish the need to be vigilant in our health pursuits. Far too often the person that has given up on pursuing a healthy body weight, healthy exercise regimen, and healthy nutrition program pleads with their loved ones to “just accept me the way I am”. This is where the fine line between complete acceptance and offering a guiding hand toward better health must be drawn.
No shaming, no forcing change, accepting where we are right now and then plotting a course to improve ourselves in the future. Each of us can be positive about life and work together to be positive tomorrow. Be Blessed.
Category: Dr. Sterling