Thursday, May 27, 2021

Fixing obesity: Body positivity or weight loss or both?

me in 2011

me in 2014

I doubt anyone will argue that obesity is a huge problem in many countries. There seem to be two camps of thought on how to deal with weight problems: body positivity and weight loss. If I'm overweight, which is better: accepting and celebrating yourself or trying to lose weight? I suggest both. It's part of how I lost 100 pounds. The reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" demonstrates why. 

I'm the last one to suggest that anyone shame themselves. Body shaming as "my 600-lb Life" shows doesn't work. However, I'm concerned about this big body love movement. Loving yourself as you are is good. Embracing obesity, refusing to even attempt weight loss and expecting others to accept that it's okay, even great, to be very overweight is not. When I lost 100 pounds, I had to be realistic about my body size. I had to stop making excuses. 

"My 600-lb Life" shows participants making many, varied and bizarre excuses for being overweight. They lie about how much they eat. Despite having massive lymphedema filled legs and stomachs they fight weight loss. They insist the scale is lying. They fail to accept that they weigh as much as 4-6 full-grown adults. Clearly, obesity clouds reason and self-awareness. 

I'm going to say something that is probably going to sound insensitive. Body positivity often masks laziness. It can be self-delusional. If I'm very overweight (as I was before I lost 100 pounds) it can be just another excuse not to lose weight.  Obviously, hating and belittling oneself is hurtful. But so is ignoring something that is causing health problems. So is pretending that celebrating a too-big body will somehow nullify all the dangers of obesity. 

But happily, the two are not mutually exclusive. I can accept myself as I am AND work to change. Fixing parts that aren't working doesn't mean I hate myself. It's because I care about myself that I want to lose weight and be the healthiest person I can be. 

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