I try not to buy into too much controversy in this blog. In general I’m all for personal opinion and know that others won’t agree with my own values and choices and so forth. Similarly I might decide that others are wrong, but try to avoid the occasional desire to point that out ;-).
However, I observed a few discussions on social media a couple of weeks ago about the body image / self acceptance / self-love movement which has had me thinking.
I suspect it’s always been around – the notion of loving and accepting who you are (although also realising that there may be some room for improvement or change) but it’s kinda trendy at the moment and the flavour of the day. Aussie mum Taryn Brumfitt has been leading the most recent charge here in Oz and I (particularly) love that she and her friends are now looking at the issue of body image and young girls.
However… the Twitter and Facebook conversations went something like this:
It’s easy to talk about self-love and having a positive body image when you’re not very overweight.
The flavour of the conversations (though more about the US industry) seemed to be that the faces of some campaigns are ‘minimally’ overweight and only seen by the most hardened (dare I say, f*cked up) minds as unpalatable.
Indeed, I don’t think Taryn is/was overweight in the pictures (which went viral). Her pose in some of the pics was not flattering and she obviously has a bit of loose weight around her tummy (post-baby). Which is why I was agog to see some horrible comments in response to those pics, basically questioning how she dare leave the house given her current state.
People like Taryn can’t win, cos the threads I followed seemed to applaud her (and others who talk about self-acceptance) for speaking out, but also implied that – most of them don’t represent the truly overweight amongst us.
Like I said, I didn’t think Taryn was overweight (indeed I coveted her post-baby body!) but for me the issue was broader.
And I hated to admit it but I realise I kinda agreed. (Not with the need to criticise anyone in particular, but with the sizest mentality.)
Self acceptance and maintaining a positive body image is harder when you are significantly overweight. I know the HAES movement is about being healthy no matter what your weight or size: underweight, of normal/ideal weight, a bit overweight or obese. However, it’s not always portrayed in that way.
It’s hard enough trying to avoid feelings of self-loathing when you run out of sizes in the plus size stores or (as in my case) feel pressure on your ankles/shins during exercise. But, in addition, while society seems okay with those who carry a bit of extra weight, it rarely condones those who carry an excess. Carrying an additional 30kg, 40kg or more makes it harder to ‘fit in’.
So how can those of us who are – god forbid! – obese, practise self acceptance or self-love if the world cannot accept or love us.
Am I making any sense?
Do you agree that self-acceptance or maintaining a positive body image is harder the more you move away from that which is generally accepted as ‘normal’?
(And yes, I know… I need to stop using words like ‘normal’!) *Sigh*
PS. I’m also not saying that it’s ‘healthy’ to be overweight or obese (just as it’s not healthy to be too underweight, or smoke etc).