A Healthy Relationship With Loving Your Body

This is a really good article about finding nuance in how we treat our bodies, however I think there are some really important things to point out.

“I think I just spent too much time in black/white thinking (caring about appearance/weight = bad — critical thinking/shunning societal pressures = good) that I forgot to really find the middle ground for myself.”

I find it interesting that someone who is allegedly part of a body acceptance movement is using the same style of thinking as most people who have eating disorders. By no means am I trying to shame her for thinking this way, but it makes me wonder how realistic it is for women in particular to ever be able to think in nuance and shades of gray. It’s something everyone needs to be conscious of, and even if you think you’ve moved to the “white” side of thinking (personal acceptance), it’s still destructive. One major problem is that few people talk about how dangerous all or nothing thinking is.

Over on feministing, Courtney addresses this exact problem, and I think she’s pretty much spot on.

The other thing that’s really important to me is that even within the fat acceptance movement, weight is the only thing that seems to be important. The fact that you are a certain weight and proud of it is more important than health.

In both of these cases what seems important to me is more nuance in our thinking. Admittedly this could solve a lot of our problems in the world, but when it comes to body image and health I believe that understanding all the facets of the problem is the most important step towards healthier and happier people. There is no one answer for how to be happy with your body. If you’re obese but also healthy, more power to you. If you’re the exact right size for your height/age/etc. but you eat like crap and are going to give yourself problems, you might want to change. Shades of gray are always difficult because it requires far more thought. Instead of saying “obese is unhealthy” and simply acting with that mantra, we then have to keep reanalyzing. It’s hard. It really is.

I do think there is one principle we can always act by though. It also seems to me that weight should always be considered AFTER health. What should we care more about…how we look or whether we’re taking care of ourselves? I think option number two.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

1 Comment

  1. August 23, 2011 at 2:36 am —

    Thank you! I’ve been thinking the same thing! I don’t see the body acceptance movement as shunning weight-loss.

    I also found that the “style of thinking” you mentioned a bit… troubling. It seems that she is still equating weight (or lack of it) with health. And I think that’s one of the assumptions that the body acceptance movement is trying to fight.

    I don’t think people in the movement are trying to say that no one should try to get healthy, which most likely involves losing weight, but I think people should take under consideration how they plan to get healthy. Making sustainable lifestyle changes by getting active in a way that you enjoy and eating balance meals are not counter to the body acceptance. However, going on a diet in an attempt to lost weight I would say is something that goes against body acceptance.

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