Does telling women to love their bodies promote obesity in women?

Apparently, last week,  there appears to have been a bit of a kerfuffle between fitness expert Maria Kang  (a.k.a. “Fit Mom) and Curvy Girl Lingerie owner Chrystal B0urgon over Curvy Girl’s recent campaign that encouraged women of\r\n\r\n

and most fashion photography is.  don't compare yourself to it.
and most fashion photography is. don’t compare yourself to it.
\r\n\r\nall sizes to post pics of themselves to Curvy Girl’s Facebook page for their “unphotoshopped, regular woman” photo campaign.\r\n\r\nIt seems that Maria took umbrage at Chrystal’s campaign, claiming that it encouraged “complacency” in women, and promoted the notion that obesity is ok.\r\n\r\nReally?  By showing happy, non-thin, “overweight” women on a Facebook page someone is dangerously promoting obesity?  Really?\r\n\r\nIMO, that’s a bit of a stretch.   More than any spandex two-way stretch too….\r\n\r\nOk, I understand where Kang is coming from.  Like many in the fitness world who seem to have found the “magic formula” for themselves, they “worry”  what seems to be incessantly about the weight, looks, and health of others.  I understand, too, that this is with all good intentions, that they want others to be as happy and peppy and fit and not taxing the healthcare system just like them.  Also a good intention.\r\n\r\nThe thing is, thinness does not necessarily equate with healthiness any more than all overweight-ness equates with un-healthiness.  The issue of health/non-health is something that should be discussed between a woman and her doctor, and no one else.  It seems, though, that women’s bodies are public bodies, meant to be criticized and discussed by anyone and everyone who believes he or she knows what’s right and how women should look –or what they should be doing for work.  See this about science writer Emily Graslie of Brain Scoop and how everybody under the sun believes it’s just peachy OK to tell her about her looks, what she should be doing other than science reporting, and so forth.\r\n\r\nI’ll say it again:  women’s bodies are public bodies.  When we leave the house, no matter who we are, we are scrutinized, sized up, judged by our looks, our age, our weight.  Our sexual behavior is, collectively anyway, talked about and judged by everyone, including our State Government and Federal Government, which seem to want to find all sorts of ways to stop us from making our own decisions about when we will or won’t reproduce.\r\n\r\nSo,  the Kang-Bourgon battle, which made its way to a she-said-she-said segment on CNN,  is another one of those dust ups that reminds me that every person who has a “concern” about women’s bodies, who feels he or  she should be doing what she can to evangelize us to their way of thinking (and yes, there are men who get into this battle, too) might be in some ways terribly misguided.   Even when their intentions may be good.  Maybe lumping all women of a certain appearance into the category of “unhealthy” is just like those folks at anti-abortion clinics who believe that every woman going into an abortion clinic is going there because she was forced to by some horrible incesting father or devil-worshipping pimp.\r\n\r\nOur bodies may be publicly scrutinized and governed, but our health choices, be they about our reproductive health or our weight, are matters that should be between a woman and her medical professional only and not a matter for public obsession, regardless of the good intention.\r\n\r\nWhich brings me to the idea of telling women to love their bodies no matter what.  This is where I agree with Chrystal Bourgon.  Bodies are malleable.  You might be “unhealthy” one day, and decide to make changes.  But you have to come from a place of feeling ok with yourself first before you decide to make positive changes.  Lots and lots of women and girls decide that they are “too fat” and enter into crazy diets, punishing fitness regimes that cause them to damage to their muscles, or to suffer bouts of anorexia or bulimia.\r\n\r\nFurther, when a woman does not love herself, and loses weight, and looks great, she may never, ever recognize that she looks great.  This is something I know personally.  I look at pictures of myself when I was young, and thin, and very fit, and remember how I thought I was “fat” because I wasn’t a certain number on the scale or the price tag.  I thought I was “fat” because I had thighs and boobs and a butt, which I couldn’t get rid of unless I had surgery.  Body dysmorphic disorder affects so many women that it is more incalculable than obesity figures.  I used to see it all the time , t00, when I worked at FoH and VS–when the size 34B woman would come in complaining of “love handles” and looking for a corset or girdle to “suck it in.”   When the store I worked for sold shapewear in size XS, to fit those who wear a size 0-1.  When the woman who was told she was a 34D had a fit and insisted she be no more than a 34C–a size she’d been since college 20 years ago. …\r\n\r\nWhen you do not love yourself, you cannot see yourself clearly.  Every mirror is a funhouse mirror, and everywhere you turn there is this horrid “obese” person, even if she is fit and thin or healthy and curvy.\r\n\r\nI do hope, that Maria Kang changes her mind about women and their health.  She has good intentions, but they are coming from a place that may not recognize that loving oneself, not punishing oneself, is what leads to the healthy changes that she advocates.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n(Hat tip to Plus Model Mag & Blog)\r\n


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