In this ever-expanding era of body-acceptance we currently live in, I still choose my healthy body over the 300-pound body I was once miserable in.
I can’t accept the plus-size body I was living in because it was a diseased and uncomfortable vessel. It has less to do with my looks and more to do with the quality of life. Not accepting my 300-pound body didn’t mean I was a bad person or that I hated my body—it just meant my body needed to change. Coming to this conclusion takes a lot of honesty.
Somedays, it’s difficult being a formerly morbidly obese person trying to understand the body-acceptance movement. There are so many messages and judgments against people who lose weight and are actually happier being smaller. Because, apparently… you SHOULD be happy at any size.
What started out as a campaign designed to shed some light on the airbrushed models in magazines as being an unrealistic and unfair standard for feminine beauty, seems to have escalated into morbidly obese women telling themselves they should just accept their bodies the way they are (because they’re beautiful).
I’m sorry, but looks aren’t everything. If that’s how you want to live your life—awesome. Not me.
These days, more and more people are tipping the scales of obesity. The masses have tried to fight their weight problems for decades, but it continues to get worse and worse, despite all of the advances in science. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, an astonishing 51% of the population will be obese by 2030.
I’m not trying to assume all plus-size, curvy folks are unhealthy individuals that feel like giant slugs (like I once did). I’m certain that many of their annual medical check-ups are average or even above average in a few cases. The Health at Every Size movement makes it clear that the size of our bodies is not a direct indicator of the quality of health.
However, if we want to get brutally honest, the majority of us that have been overweight for any stretch of time– we have had health problems. We may not have severe issues (like heart attacks, strokes, or cancer), but these health problems do prevent us from living our best lives.
As a 300-pound woman, I was too embarrassed to go to a doctor and hear, “You need to lose weight”… Like I was totally unaware of that fact. So, I couldn’t tell you if I was “healthy” according to medical standards or not. However, I can say I physically (and mentally) felt far from healthy.
I had water retention on both of my kneecaps, I had acid reflux that kept me awake many nights, I didn’t have regular bowel movements, I had heavy menstruation cycles, I often had bad acne outbreaks, My skin was extremely dry and flaky (all over body), I always seemed to have a rash from my legs or fat rolls rubbing together, I was often depressed with no energy, and I was always out of breath…
Does that sound healthy to you?
Let’s be real– not all of my ailments were caused by the size of my body. Some of it came from my poor food choices, my somewhat sedentary lifestyle, and drinking regularly. All of those choices did lead to my body size, however.
So, should plus-sized folks all try to go out and lose weight?
NOT. AT. ALL. This isn’t all about weight loss. MANY overweight (and even obese) people are pretty healthy without losing weight (as I’ve already stated). The Health At Every Size movement does advocate for healthier habits (even if it doesn’t result in weight loss) for those of us who are obese and don’t feel our best. The “This Girl Can” campaign shows a healthy view of women of all sizes embracing physical activity, too.
As someone who has lost 125+ pounds and has kept it off for over six years, my weight fluctuates from year to year. One year I can weigh a relatively steady 165 pounds, one year I’m at 154, and yet another year at 180. All of these weights feel so much better to carry around than 300 pounds (and all of the ailments that came with it).
I didn’t lose weight just because I was ashamed of my fat rolls and chubby face. I didn’t do it because I got tired of being mistreated by society (although it did happen all of the time), I did it because I was tired of feeling like crap all of the time and knew I deserved better.
I accept myself at 154 pounds and 180 pounds because I feel healthy in this range, and it doesn’t stop me from living my best life. My body looks differently at each of these sizes, but that’s not the point.
Carrying around 300 pounds was unhealthy for me and physically prevented me from doing things I did want to do… like riding some roller coasters, skydiving, riding my bicycle, wearing beautiful clothes, fitting behind the stirring wheel of my car comfortably, etc.
Maybe you have no desire to do any of those things, but I did.
Instead of being pro body-acceptance, I’d rather be pro self-acceptance or at the very least pro healthier-choices.
There is a difference between body-acceptance and self-acceptance– I’m sure of it.
To me, self-acceptance comes from being aware (and honest) of who you are—consider all of your strengths, weaknesses, quirks, habits, your appearance– and love yourself regardless (while working on what you have some control over).
When you practice self-acceptance, you understand there’s only one you. You only have one life to live. So, you might try a little harder to improve your quality of life while still showing yourself grace and self-compassion for the things you’re having difficulty changing instead of taking part in self-criticism all of the time. It’s not about “fixing” yourself to suit societal standards.
Self-acceptance means embracing the things that you can’t change about yourself on a whole. That might mean loving yourself in spite of your learning disability, a childhood trauma, a large birthmark on your arm, or the fact that you will always have extra junk in the trunk (like me). Self-acceptance acknowledges that we do have a body, and we ought to love it. But we aren’t just our bodies.
Body-acceptance’s main agenda seems to be vanity/beauty of the female body and advocating for fair treatment of plus-sized folks and changing society’s attitude and understanding towards bigger people. I researched the term “body-acceptance” and found many conflicting ideas on what it really is. I felt a little confused. I’m not even entirely sure (at this point) what difference there is between body-acceptance and fat-acceptance. I do know that neither focus on promoting health (as far as I can tell).
While I agree we should treat ALL people equally (not just fat people), I’m against the body-acceptance movement because the focus seems narrow and confusing (to me). I would rather concentrate on loving ourselves as a whole person… not just our fleshy bodies (that will eventually turn wrinkly over time).
Focusing on what everyone looks like just continues the cycle of self-hate and judgment. Will we ever stop the fat-shaming and the “strong is the new skinny” or “real women have curves” slogans? Putting another person down in order to feel good about our bodies isn’t the answer. Both send terrible messages (no matter what size you are).
Disagree with me or have other insight to share? Leave me a comment. I’m no expert on this topic, so I’d love to hear your take on it!
If my story resonates with you and you’re on a journey to improve your health and start living a life you enjoy more, please join me for 8 weeks sure to shift your thinking about food, fitness, and how you love yourself. I have the tools many health professional simply don’t have because they’ve never experienced what a weight loss journey feels like and how to keep going when the going gets tough.
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