There is a movement on social media all about body positivity. I think this is wonderful and I am all for feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about your body whatever your shape or size. After all it’s your right as a human being to be exactly who you want to be. I will never argue with anybody that says they are happy exactly the way they are and I will take it at face value that they genuinely mean they are happy with themselves. Why would I doubt it? I’ve no reason too.
I believe there are two camps in this body positivity movement. There is the camp that is happy to post an image of being overweight and happy, which I might say I think takes a lot of courage. Then there is the camp that shows before and after photos of themselves where they have reduced their weight to a healthy level.
My problem with all of this body positivity posting is the effect it could be having on our children in regard to obesity.
Obesity is a major problem in the UK and it has health implications that perhaps are not apparent straight away, but as you get older this could become very serious.
I will admit that in some cases some people are overweight because of an underlying health issue, but a large majority are overweight because they consume too much and don’t exercise enough which then becomes a lifestyle choice. If you are continually eating, and quite often this is comfort food like chocolate etc, and then you’re not doing any form of exercise, it’s not rocket science to work out what is going to happen to your body. You will get fat. You can’t blame that on fast food outlets even if they are everywhere. You have a choice. You don’t have to go into a KFC or McDonalds. You have a choice. You could go to the supermarket and buy healthy food and start eating healthy food and doing some exercise.
There is talk of making obesity a disease, and this for me is total nonsense. If you do that then you should make smoking and alcohol diseases too, but they are not diseases! Cancer is a disease, an illness, obesity is not.
Smoking and drinking are lifestyle choices and so is eating too much without doing any exercise. It’s the individuals choice to be overweight and if they are happy with themselves that’s great. No argument from me there, but stop trying to normalise it. Being overweight is a choice you have made and you can, if you want to, do something about it, just the same as if you smoke, you can make a change and stop smoking or stop drinking or eating too much. That’s a lifestyle choice that will make you healthier.
It infuriates me when people are critical about people who show before and after photos. I truly don’t understand how you can criticise them. It shows a commitment to a lifestyle change and it should be applauded that they are making positive changes to their lifestyle. It is not, as some like to say, harping on about “fat shaming”. It’s not even close.
I struggle to understand how posting a before and after photo is anything but positive. Before and after images of weight loss do not demean or devalue or become problematic when somebody posts a photo of their larger form.
I have no problem with what people post on social media and if it makes you happy that’s fantastic, but don’t post on social media and not expect to face opinions that might differ from yours. If you don’t want a debate over it turn comments off. Everybody has a right to an opinion and it may differ from yours. Not everybody is going to agree with you and actually that’s what makes life interesting.
Looking beyond the what is right or wrong to post online, we as parents have a responsibility to teach our children a sensible way to live and to educate them on healthy lifestyle choices. I really don’t want my children thinking it’s ok to be overweight or do no exercise, or have their tea every night from a fast food outlet. That is bordering child abuse.
There is an epidemic of children that are obese in the UK and it’s getting worse year on year. The UK currently has the highest rate of obesity in children in Europe. Surely that is telling us that as parents we need to be better role models when it comes to eating healthy and exercise.
Our children look at us as their role models. We can’t always get it right, but we can certainly try our best to give them the best example we can. This can mean many things such as being healthy, being a normal healthy weight, not smoking or drinking in excess, and being respectful of other people’s opinions and treating people with kindness and respect. Being rude because you can’t get your own way is not something we should be teaching our children.
Finally, it is not as I have said fat shaming if you post a before and after photo of weight loss. It’s a body positivity photo, and a fantastic example to our children. Ultimately being overweight will reduce your life expectancy. You are leaving yourself open to a multitude of possible health issues and you could either become a burden to your children, or die far too young.
So let’s stop fat shaming, diet shaming or slim shaming. We are what we decide to be, but just as we do not glamorous anorexia, let’s not glamorous obesity or normalise obesity by wrapping it up in a body positivity photo. Body positivity photos are not the sole domain or exclusive only to people that are overweight.
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.