In short, at The Quintessential Centrist (TQC), our view is that the “Body Positivity” movement should support and encourage obese and overly thin people in their objective to love themselves enough to live a healthier lifestyle; not encourage people suffering from dangerous conditions to love the way they are without question.
Whether it’s an individual attempting to garner attention and trend-set or someone who is a genuine advocate for a cause, does it not seem like every other week, a niche or subculture is pushed into the limelight?
This could apply to politics, religious sects, sexual preferences and orientations, body modifications, odd hobbies -- you name it – somewhere, there is probably an editor at a major media outlet saying: “I found our ‘thing’ of the week!’”
At The Quintessential Centrist (TQC), we believe that as long as our fellow citizens aren’t infringing on the rights of others, promoting violence and/or engaging in criminal activity, they should be able to live the life they so desire, free to express themselves, argue for any cause no matter how trivial it might seem, and assemble to protest (unless lawless action is imminent) without fear of retribution.
That said, we think it’s prudent to highlight the dangers and hypocrisies of one movement that’s been gaining momentum, the “Body Positivity” movement: The recent movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image and be accepting of their own bodies and others as well.
By no means are we arguing that body positivity is a bad thing. Quite the contrary. At TQC we believe everyone should practice proper self-love and self-care. However, where do today’s “trendsetters” draw the line between promoting a healthy self-image and enabling a self-destructive lifestyle?
In the United States, obesity is a serious epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one third of American adults, or ~90 million people, are obese. Let us be clear, that’s not just overweight, that’s obese. By definition, a person is obese if their Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 30%. In addition to the dangerous health conditions linked to obesity, the economic damage is stunning. For the year 2008 – the last year in which data from the CDC is furnished on its website - the reported dollar cost of obesity to our economy was $147 billion.
So why then does the “Body Positivity” movement seem so eager to celebrate obese people? And imply that they are just as healthy as anyone else? And turn those suffering from obesity into celebrities? Or use them for TV shock value (“My 600lb Life”) or to score PR points?
“You’re perfect just the way you are” has now become the mantra of corporate ad campaigns and media outlets motivated by social agendas and financial gain.
Consider the opioid epidemic that we opined on in our inaugural issue. When somebody is addicted to opioids or other narcotics, society’s base case is not, “hey, whatever makes you happy -- you’re fine the way you are!” No, we typically encourage them to get help. Yet too many in the “Body Positivity” movement either tell people who overindulge in food or who’s genetics and environmental factors make it more challenging to lose weight: “you look good no matter what,” or conversely encourage them, through the constant barrage of Instagram “model” after magazine cover model, to crash diet, work-out to excess, and in some instances, take dangerous supplements in order to lose weight.
In a particularly troubling instance: an obese model graced the cover of Cosmopolitan. The message this conveys: she is perfect just the way she is, etc. This represents a subtle pass, a wink of the eye to the “masses” – excuse the pun – that being dangerously overweight is not only ok, but that it should be embraced. This behavior enables our obesity epidemic to continue unfettered. Often, those who express genuine concern for obese peoples’ physical or mental health are accused of “fat shaming.” This is ridiculous. Those who, with facts in hand offer their argument in disagreement are very often not hateful people.
Exhaustive data clearly demonstrates that obesity directly correlates with poor health. It is beyond debate that being excessively overweight materially increases the probability that the affected parties will suffer from a myriad of serious health conditions as they grow older.
Is diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatigue, sleep apnea, mental health issues, etc., “fabulous”? Where is the true compassion?
Extremes of almost any kind tend to be sub-optimal. Being rail thin or having an abnormally low body fat composition are no exception. Unfortunately, the flip side often offers an equally disappointing alternative: consider the soccer moms who spend countless hours a week working out to achieve bodies akin to a 16-year-old gymnast and the men with a dangerously low body fat composition, obsessed with their “Instagram-ready” selfies.
In recent years, the fashion industry has come under criticism for encouraging models to maintain an abnormally and often dangerously low body weight. And to its credit, while slow, progress has indeed been made regarding the treatment and welfare of models. Conversely, the “Body Positivity” movement needs to come under a similar microscope; its flaws laid bare so they can be addressed accordingly, and sensibly.
In short, at TQC, our view is that the “Body Positivity” movement should support and encourage obese and overly thin people in their objective to love themselves enough to live a healthier lifestyle; not encourage people suffering from dangerous conditions to love the way they are without question.
So no, this is not about fat shaming. It is, likewise, not about promoting unhealthily thin or body obsessed people who allocate too much human capital focusing on the superficial rather than what lies within. It is imperative that we have more honest conversations in America about weight, body image, and perceptions of beauty. At TQC we are thinking about real self-love, real self-care and real “body positivity.” Sometimes that means saying, hearing, and doing things that may not be palatable, but that’s what real help, and real care often entail. That’s what the “body positive” movement should embrace.