Body Positivity Is Killing Women: A Followup – OpEd


By Holly Ashe*

My previous post on how Body Positivity is killing women, went viral.

It also raised some follow up question, and snarky comments, which needs to be followed through.

In the wake of the University of Birmingham’s extensive study, which states that people with a high BMI are at greater risk of developing either coronary heart disease, a stroke, heart failure or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) compared to healthy, normal BMI numbered people, now it’s time to finally admit the obvious, that being obese WILL cause health problems, and it is time to stop sugar coating the truth and start yelling from the roof tops the reality if one actually wants to start saving lives.

The body positivity movement that the larger community have formed on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook is spearheaded mainly by plus size model Tess Holliday. Her Instagram following alone is at 1.4 million (despite the controversy over her online shop allegedly scamming fans and stealing from charity) and her movement Eff your beauty standards Instagram has 352k followers, abounding with positive, empowering quotes, and gallant, shapely women, standing up to the “social norm” and being illustrious of their bodies. If you read my last post, you will know my rationale on this, but to reiterate, despite the camaraderie and benevolence surrounding this crusade, it is still warping the mind of a generation, convincing them that despite medical evidence and extensive research (3.1 million people, the biggest in a study similar to this) that living this way is unhealthy, a drain on medical resources, and to put it bluntly, a deplorable foreboding demise.

An affinity of people, who have an overt issue with eating, all congregating and persuading one another that they’re fine, that nothing is wrong with them and it is everyone else’s problem that have an aversion with way you look/are? Sounds awfully familiar to me. In 00’s, the days of the newly innovative MSN messenger and one of the pioneers of social media platforms, Myspace, another unfortunate trend plagued the internet; pro-ana/mia sites.

For those who are too young and unaware of what the much publicised pro-ana/mia sites are, they are websites created to encourage, spurs on and swap tips between people suffering with anorexia and bulimia that will furtherance their quest to a skinnier and smaller body.

Now obviously I am not directly comparing the body positive movement to the pro-ana sites, there are variances, for instance, from what I can see, there is no encouragement to exuberate peoples weight problem, but the message and motivation behind both of these factions are acutely similar. Both have created a safe space with no judgement and no negative comments, only admiration for each other’s bodies, a worldwide applaud for being yourself, encouragement and consolation for doing what you want despite you going against the popular phantasm of what should be right that hoards the public views and saturates the media; and of course, the scientific fact. All of this in defiance of the health implications. The inevitable, broken, dolorous affinity with food, and the fact that simply it isn’t right.

The most distinct difference between the two though is the social perception. One was grotesquely shunned, with bans on media sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Myspace, and called for the websites to be shut down and blocked the same way as porn was. They were regularly brought up in TV shows, and deemed as evil and a way to feed a mental illness. Maybe even causing death. But this organization that sits on the opposite side of the scale is being praised. Adopted by feminism, hailed as a breakthrough, a voice for the “real woman” and is brainwashing millions into thinking that having issues with food, being overweight and shortening your life expectancy is something to be proud of. It is encouraging eating disorders. Just as pro –ana/mia sites are.

According to the eating disorder charity b-eat, 50% of eating disorders reported were either binge eating disorder or EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified, which diagnostics recently have stopped using as a criteria). So surely we should not be celebrating and encouraging this disorder the same way pro-ana/mia does for bulimia and anorexia? Why do we delicately tip toing around this issue? Is it the number of people who are behind it? The feminist babysitters who also stand up for the bigger sister and will take everything that isn’t their opinion as hate speech and will brutally attack without checking the facts?

As mentioned before, I have already written about my distaste for the body positive movement, and the ramification it is having on the western healthcare and a generation’s future, and many of the comments received have been pretty abhorrent. Some even came from people who hadn’t even read the article, but still decided to form an opinion and preach with the masses. I was told to “fact check” (despite the scientific facts and stats being there, and linked in the piece). I was called names. But what astounded me most was the body shaming I received. The feminist “sisterhood”, supposedly a collection of women who picket for all body types, saw I was a bit of a gym bunny and instantly accused me of being an exercise addict, that it’s a mental illness, and to top it off, I was pitied by the commenters. How can one possible be heard, when people won’t listen, unless it is what they want to hear. If I was approached with facts and figures, proving this lifestyle is safe, healthy and positive, I will grab my spoon, eat humble pie and look further into it. But no one does. And the other side won’t reciprocate the gesture.

Do not mistake my concerns for an attack on obese people or bullying; if anything I am overly concerned for a generation that is heading to premature deaths, but not before suffering with heart disease, diabetes, joint pain and the other numerous, debilitating health woes that is costing our health services resources that could be used for things like cancer. One of the most detrimental aspects of this movement is the political correctness persona it hides behind. Doctors in the UK are warned against using the word fat in case they hurt people’s feelings. Medical professionals are not allowed to tell it like it is for the sake of their patient’s health, in case they get upset. The attacks I was subjected to were not justified with fact or evidence, they were delivered as a result of people’s feelings being hurt. In the PC world we now live in, we would rather cushion everyone into a false sense of security, instead of telling the brutal truth, shocking people into reality and maybe getting them to change for the better.

My wake-up call was when my GP told me I was infertile at the time. I said what will make me fertile again? I was told that my weight isn’t helping the situation. So in my own head, I told myself “you being fat is stopping you being fertile. What have you done? Why are you living like this? Damaging yourself so much that you’re now exuberating current health problems.” I was ashamed. And that shame drove me to lose weight and live a healthy life style. Now all of my health problems are under control and I rarely see my once frequently visited GP. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks the same way as me, and the false sense of security that the PC world has created has now penetrated the public’s consciousness, which subsequently does the opposite to protect, but drives them blindly to a life of a miserable, obese prison while convincing themselves and others that they are fine.

I feel that the two movements in these respects are the same; but are directly on opposite ends of each other. Whenever I try to explain myself, I always depict a seesaw, and both health endangering communities are level on either side, but we need to find a medium. Society should exact a campaign for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind set. An active conduct paired with a balanced diet. It is that simple. If we don’t, then this perilous epidemic will be claiming lives of thousands too soon; it’s time to wake up a realise just how treacherous, ugly and formidable this movement really is, despite its size.

About the author:
*Holly Ashe is a London based fashion and culture writer. She was previously published in Vogue International as a fashion designer and a start-up business entrepreneur. Her previous publications can be found here. You can follow her on twitter @hollyroseashe.

This article was published by Bombs and Dollars.

Bombs and Dollars

Bombs and Dollars stands to bridge the gap between academia and policy, commentary and opinions, reporting and blogging and reflects the maturity of the personal experience of its Editors, who are now early-mid career correspondents, authors and academics.

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