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14 People’s Thoughts on Why the Body Positive Movement Is More Focused on Weight Than Physical Deformities

For many people, the body positive movement has been a godsend.

For too long, society in general – and some professions, like the medical field, specifically – have made it really, really hard to be happy living as someone perceived as being “overweight.”

This questioner wants to know why we’re more focused on making fat people feel accepted and beautiful than we are on making people with scars, amputated limbs, or other deformities feel the same way.

Why is body positivity focused on fat people instead of amputees and people with scars? from NoStupidQuestions

These 14 people are going to give them a talking to, so let’s just hear what they have to say.

Let’s take a look!

14. There’s a bigger picture here.

I think something people tend to miss with any movement geared towards uplifting groups in a minority or underrepresented category (whether that’s a racial, gendered, sexual, size etc) is seeing the larger societal issues why that is necessary to begin with and therefore make a bunch of false equivalence or try to in some way invalidate the necessity of these things based on actions of some people.

Clearly, telling people go eat a sandwich or disparaging thinner people isn’t okay at all and no true body positive people who genuinely understand and dedicate themselves to this work in a socially conscious and informed way would do this. But also, the point is no matter how many times certain people tell a skinny person to eat a sandwich, even if that person feels badly about it, the images, the representation, the idea that thin is desirable, etc are still the dominant images in our society and on a whole society rewards thinness.

Which is the key issue people should realize. Is that movements like this are pointing out what society has promoted as desirable and the norm in its images and representation and messages we all get over and over and over that tells us who are the normal, acceptable, good, beautiful, smart people. Movements are trying to shift these ideas and diversify them and people tend to not think about it on such a macro scale. A fat person can hurt a skinny person’s feelings potentially, however, it is still going to be true that in everyday life, as you watch tv, as you scroll Reddit, everything you do, thin will still be reflected back to you in most of your media and interactions and societal beliefs and practices as what’s beautiful and desirable.

13. It’s meant to be for everyone.

Originally the body positivity movement was mostly for the anatomical differences not relating to weight: face deformities, amputees, scars, stretch marks etc. But then the movement expanded to things such as height and weight as we became more open-minded as a community.

Regarding overweight people, it was sort of hijacked, whether you were overweight or underweight it was about accepting who you are, as an individual not as a collective to help with body dysmorphia and that just because your body isn’t model-material you are still worth it.

That isn’t to say they are healthy or unhealthy, it’s just about being comfortable. It wasn’t about promoting “this is what everyone should look like” which is what you’re referring to via “obesity is healthy” it is about saying I like how I look, that’s it. Just a small minority has taken the movement too far.

12. Because it applies to so many of us.

I would also add that just in general like 60% of the population is overweight or obese in America while there aren’t anywhere near as many amputees, scar victims etc.

Not saying it’s right but it’s sorta not surprising to me that group is the loudest in the community given there is probably millions more people who identify with it through that lens.

11. Everyone should love themselves.

I’m personally a big fan of the body neutrality movement. It completely takes away the hyper focus on one’s body and is more about accepting yourself and others as is and then moving on.

It’s not as extreme but you still feel good in your own skin.

10. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Yeah, I believe the real message is/should be “If you are fat, you are still worthy of kindness and respect as a human being, but it’s not healthy”.

9. Not everyone is beautiful.

I think it’s much better because body “positivity” can feel so forced sometimes and ultimately is still very appearance based.

Trying to shove this idea that “everyone is cute/beautiful/attractive” I think is actually pretty shitty, because #1. attractiveness may be subjective and beauty standards may change, but if the majority of people do not find someone attractive, insisting that they are anyway is just weird and obviously an attempt to make them feel better, it’s not the truth. And #2. being attractive shouldn’t be as important to our self-worth as it is.

There are so many other qualities that are more important that attractiveness that should come first, intelligence, kindness, perseverance, diligence, empathy, talent, sense of humor, and so on…it goes for everyone, but women especially need to be valued for so many other things before their attractiveness, because then when some of them aren’t attractive, it should not be this horrible, destructive, ultimate insult.

Body neutrality acknowledges all of that, body positivity ignores it and is basically condescension.

8. It’s that simple.

This is the entire essence of body positivity. I have no idea how it happened, but suddenly everyone thinks that it’s about fat people forcing thin people to find them beautiful and attractive.

But no, it’s literally about not being a d*ck to someone just because they’re either underweight or overweight. That’s it.

7. It’s also about a person’s appearance not qualifying their existence.

Just heading this by saying that I do think the fat acceptance movement can, occasionally promote unhealthy behaviours, or not be exactly receptive to criticism. I don’t approve of 100% of the things ‘those people’ do.

But there’s also the very good point that prejudice against overweight people is sort of shitty because there is an assumption against a person’s character or worth based on their weight.

Overweight people are considered to be lazy, unmotivated, even stupid sometimes – because there is an assumption that, because someone can’t manage their diet, there must be some moral failing.

Ultimately, however, there can be dozens of reasons for being overweight. Plenty of these reasons might be within someone’s control on a technical level, but addiction to food is real, especially when we live in societies that make healthy eating difficult and sugary foods plentiful. Eating disorders exist in the other direction, too.

It can also simply be that a person’s life doesn’t assist them. Their metabolism is slow and they work a sedentary desk job with a full family to look after. We all have points of health that we don’t prioritize for other things. That’s normal in an extremely busy society built around the morality of productivity.

Obesity can be co-morbid with other conditions. Fun fact: Someone with ADHD is roughly four times likely to be obese, because in some cases, their brain is so under stimulated that they go and snack/eat on an almost subconscious level. Depression is another big, obvious one.

Very few reasons for being overweight are just “this person is a bad human being”, and the movement is right to point that out. As such, shaming people who are overweight like they have morally failed or that they’re “just lazy” is inaccurate. People are often overweight because there are other facets of their lives that factor into it, be they genetic, societal, mental, etc.

Basically: being obese is not good for you, but it doesn’t make you a bad person, undeserving of love, unable to feel attractive, and lazy, and they’re right to point this out.

Otherwise the obese = healthy argument falls flat.

6. You can eat.

Original body positivity was largely centered around a reaction to Heroin Chic.

There was basically an anorexia epidemic in the early 90’s, and every model or actress you saw was like a coat rack. Every magazine for girls or young women was full of images of impossibly thin girls, and diet tips on how to get even skinnier.

It became so that many girls, and some boys, couldn’t see themselves as human beings, and there was a big movement to say no, actually it’s ok to be a normal weight. You can eat.

And then that became the message that fat activists stole.

It was all originally started with heroin chic

5. Health, mental and physical, is the goal.

I think all of this is a primary reason why some people have stopped talking about body positivity per se, and gone to the “heath at every size” approach, where it’s not even so much about any body type as it is about engaging in healthy behavior no matter what our size is, which I think is not a bad approach because it gets around the idea that my thin/young friends can eat empty calorie fast food all the time but it’s not a problem because they’re thin.

4. It’s about respect.

Body positivity was never supposed to be “everyone is equally beautiful, and if you’re not attracted to an overweight person you’re fatphobic” (a claim that’s so subjective and hard to convince everyone of).

The original point was “despite what anyone’s outward appearance or health is, everyone deserves to be treated and respected as a human being, and you are allowed to demand people treat you like a human despite your body”.

The thing that’s so frustrating about the shift is that now it’s just a argument of “they look like a supermodel!” “No they’re a whale!” Which takes focus away from the much more important fact that the person in question is in no way devalued as a person because of their weight.

3. How about we just don’t talk about people’s weight.

The way you take these comments kind of depends on on your background.

I, for example, was teased a lot by my family growing up for being so skinny/wimpy. My dad and brothers would make fun of my biceps by calling them “mouse stomachs” and my sister would recite a jingle from a popular movie that goes “chamber of bones nr. 1” whenever my twigs for limbs would be exposed. They obviously didn’t mean anything by it, but in the mind of a child that means skinny=bad.

Therefore, even to this day, whenever someone says “you’re really skinny”, I can not take that as a compliment, even though it might have been intended as one (for example, once it was followed by “like a model”, which would indicate a positive intent behind the comment).

I imagine this being even more so the case for men.

2. It could just be the numbers.

Also, there are way more fat people than there are people with deformities. Their voices have the power to drown anyone else out on social media as a consequence.

This isn’t on purpose, but more people post and more people empathize with people who are fat because they are the majority.

1. Seriously, just stop.

The way you take these comments kind of depends on on your background.

I, for example, was teased a lot by my family growing up for being so skinny/wimpy. My dad and brothers would make fun of my biceps by calling them “mouse stomachs” and my sister would recite a jingle from a popular movie that goes “chamber of bones nr. 1” whenever my twigs for limbs would be exposed. They obviously didn’t mean anything by it, but in the mind of a child that means skinny=bad.

Therefore, even to this day, whenever someone says “you’re really skinny”, I can not take that as a compliment, even though it might have been intended as one (for example, once it was followed by “like a model”, which would indicate a positive intent behind the comment).

I imagine this being even more so the case for men.

Why not make, I don’t know, everyone feel good about themselves, hmm?

What’s your take? Drop it in the comments!