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Body Positivity Is Killing Women – OpEd


By Holly Ashe*

What do the hashtags #IWontCompromise, #EffYourBeautyStandards, #DareToWear, #AndIGetDressed have in common? They are all ultra-intersectional feminist, “body positive” and accumulated over 700,000+ tags and counting on Instagram. Oh, and they are also killing women. Allow me to explain.

No matter how many ludicrous comments saturate pictures of these body positive heroines, obesity is still a massive (no pun) issue within the health system. £25,000 is being spent a minute within the NHS on diabetes alone. In total, an estimated £14 billion pounds is spent a year on treating diabetes and its complications, with the cost of treating complications representing the much higher cost. That number is just scratching the surface, with heart disease, high blood pressure and a copious amount of other obesity related chronic illnesses that is crushing health systems across the western world.

When the inevitable happens, and the obese patient is told that it is now a matter of life and death, the NHS seems to be freely handing out bypass surgeries at the cost of a tidy estimation of £32 million. Yikes. How many nurses would that pay for? How many beds would cater for generally ill people? Imagine how well equipped cancer wards could be with that nice little bonus? 

I know what you’re thinking, and it’s a theory that many people leap to when trying to fight against such a precipitous argument. What if the obese person we are currently critiquing has a health problem that causes weight gain? True, there are things that go wrong in the body that will cause unwanted or unprovoked weight gain. I myself suffer from hypothyroidism, with, which means lacking the function to create thyroxine and triiodothyronine, so my metabolic rate is constantly slow, which causes weight gain. I also have to take tablets that cause on average a 20lb weight gain, I also suffer from many joint and pain afflictions, that I will not bore you with the unpronounceable names of. Essentially, my point is I have every excuse in the world to have a weight problem, and be all “body posiztivy”. A couple of years ago I did, being a former obese twenty something, who was ashamed of her folds and rolls. Now, I am 25kg down and still going, I get frantically asked how I did it. No, not body positive, feeling but a fact of healthy eating and exercise. Yeah, that old chestnut. Disappointing for those who were expecting some magical feel good story. Unfortunately, real life is much more prosaic. It’s a fight. Fighting is hard, and I think therein lies the problem. You don’t get fat by running, you get fat by over eating and not moving enough. Laze and greed to be mercilessly honest. Two genuinely appalling attributes that should not be revered, and is not positive by any means.

Not convinced? Still cheerleading behind the big gals who parade in bikinis in train stations to convince people (and probably themselves) that it’s fine to be fat? Ok, how about another angle?

As I previously ran my own fashion label which was published in multiple international issues of Vogue, I noticed how these ultra-feminists attack the fashion industry. Models being too thin, companies not making a big enough selection of plus sized clothes, and designer labels not making plus size clothes at all.

The way these ladies will twist the truth to make it sound like they’re being victimized by the fashion industry is incredible. Of course reality is not as conspiratorial as these feminists would like you to believe. The majority of the time when a fashion brand uses bigger models for clothes that aren’t exclusively for bigger customers, the campaign loses money. The clothes don’t sell as well as ones that were used on smaller models. And whose fault is that? The consumer.

Chanel, Gucci, Givenchy etc. don’t have plus size collections because generally plus size women don’t spend hundreds of pounds on clothing. If these growing numbers of avid hashtag users were so happy with their shape, why isn’t the fashion industry changing? They’re excluding 24.9% of Britain who are obese from buying their products. Because that 24.9% aren’t buying them. Of course, I’m pleased we’re slowly crawling out of the heroin chic of the 90s, which was the other extreme of the spectrum, but it shouldn’t be replaced with the opposite end.

The most popular hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards is headed by plus size model Tess Holliday, a 31-year-old American woman, and someone who is deemed by the health system as super morbidly obese. And absurdly believes that she can be healthy at the shocking weight of 280lbs, a comment that she preachers to her 1.7 million followers on Instagram. In my opinion, that is not only dangerous, but outrageously irresponsible. Many of her followers are teenagers, being told their unhealthy lifestyle is fine, to carry on, not being given the warnings of the inevitable, of illness, pain, disability and eventually death. Even on her website’s front page, she describes herself as a body positive ambassador. What positivity is she speaking of?

#EffYourBeautyStandards is a misleading line, again, blaming the standards in which society and the fashion/beauty industries are making everybody envision what real beauty is like. I’m pretty sure we all have brains, and understand Photoshop/airbrushing etc. right? I don’t look at Kim Kardashian and wonder why I have a Buddha belly to match my big bum and she somehow embodies the most “perfect” curves without a sight of a stretch mark or a quiver of cellulite. This isn’t a question of beauty. It isn’t a question of standards. It’s an important debate that questions the seriousness of the damage this movement is causing.

The fact one needs to state something so obvious is itself ridiculous. It’s time to wake up. Obesity is not positive. It’s a dangerous plague that is being fuelled by disillusioned women convincing themselves that they are happy, while leading a generation into early graves.

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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