“Body positivity is acceptance and appreciation of all human body types. It is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, and be accepting of their own bodies as well as the bodies of others (Wikipedia).”
Hi again, I know it has been a minute since I felt compelled enough to post but that is how my blogging style seems to roll. Also, Wow! I can’t believe the only definition I found for “body positivity” was on wikipedia. Sorry. I have been thinking about the term “body positivity” a lot lately. I recently have lost around 30-35 pounds and I feel like I am at my healthiest state since before college. I know it because not only do I feel great but people just can’t help themselves from commenting on it. I am happy and I appreciate the support but I can’t help but feel like my thicker-old-self feels some sadness in the commentary I have heard.
I posted the definition of what body positivity is because I feel that in my personal experience living day by day in multiple social scenes (whether at my day job, comedy events or just hanging with family and friends) I have heard many disappointing takes on what it actually means. The most common being that everyone that does not fit into the *Hollywood ten* is lazy or gross. People seem to forget that everyone is human. There are all shapes and sizes of people and they are all valid beautiful people. The body positivity movement came to be because the standard of self worth in this country is unattainable AF but also people have stopped treating others with respect. Someone else’s size or appearance shouldn’t affect how they are seen and heard.
I recently attended a beautiful body positivity seminar at a Planned Parenthood conference ran by some amazing queens; Ashley Brink, Skylar Kunce, Danielle Johnson and Jessie Shay. The seminar was on body positivity and it was shocking. Some of the statistics will always stick with me. I learned that about 65% of Americans are discriminated by their own doctors due to size leaving them uninspired to get better. Doctors are telling people the reason they are experiencing current symptoms of whatever they came in for are due to being overweight. I also am always still learning about the struggles with people that identify with bigger size and I myself have fluctuated throughout my life. We don’t even realize when we are derailing our own self.
You can find a million testimonies all over the internet but a more recent one from the Cosmopolitan will tell you about a lady that had a terrible cough that she couldn’t seem to shake. She kept going in, was prescribed antibiotics, and was told to lose weight and sent on her way. Low and behold the poor darling had cancer. You can find the link to that in my resources at the end of this blog if you wish to see the horror. Another point made to me was that we don’t have scales, blood pressure cuffs and other medical equipment made to measure the dimensions of people considered obese. There was an article in the New York Times about a women who went in for a problem and again the doctor just kept emphasizing how much she needs to lose weight, “He came to the door of the exam room, and I started to tell him my symptoms,” Ms. Nece said. “He said: ‘Let me cut to the chase. You need to lose weight (G. Kolata 2016).’” When she asked how much does she weigh he just said the scale maxed out at 350 but that is all he knew. How will she know a new medical plan is even working if she doesn’t know where her starting point is. This happens all the time and then people also get prescriptions that are not based off their correct weight. That is just straight up dangerous and how is anyone supposed to get to a place of health they want when they are constantly being put down for their physical appearance. If we want to see people at their best we should be giving everyone an open mind with encouragement.
That is just the tip of the iceberg too! There are tons of people trying to gain weight. There are so many diseases like Hyperthyroidism for example where one cannot retain any nutrients or weight due to their thyroid being overactive. There are people with disabilities, scars, hair loss, etc. that struggle with self acceptance every day. I have friends that would not smile in pictures due to their teeth. It is not just people of larger size suffering from body image. People refrain from doing simple activities like swimming with friends, going to a gym, or hiking because they are worried about how people perceive them.
I watched an amazing Ted Talk from a lady by the name of Lindsay Kite, where she states, “Girls and women aren’t only suffering because of the unattainable ways beauty is. They are suffering because they are being defined by beauty. They are bodies first and people second (Kite. 2017).” I loved this take but it doesn’t include all genders that are not white cis-male-bodied people and I am not saying those men don’t experience body shaming too, but it was pretty nuts watching Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s appearance at the Global Citizens Festival wasn't it? I'm partially kidding but for real a lot of people that aren’t a “Hollywood Ten” do feel this every day. A lot of people feel like they have to worry about how they look before they even speak. This obsession with being beautiful before being taken seriously causes so many horrible side effects in people. Alcohol and drug abuse, verbal abuse, self-mutilation and suicide. That is why the body positive movement is so important. It isn’t about just bodies. It is seeing all humans as beautiful personalities.
Now, I wanted to share my own experience. I have struggled with weight all my life. I am just now learning why it has been such a huge part of my life’s focus and I figured out a small chunk of this mental journey. I was a big baby and had a tiny mom that could not hold me long enough through my younger years thus food was always there to make me feel full inside. I'm kidding about my mother. She was tiny but strong! As strong as she was though, my mother was not able to relate to me. As I have joked about on stage - I have my dad’s genes. I was always a thicker gal. I went to so many doctors, therapists, dietitians, work out coaches and even a hypnotist (That bit is true). All of them treated me like the people prior. I was working out four-six days a week and eating what I thought was healthy. I definitely threw in the towel sometimes and just binge ate because I was watching it work for everyone else.
My old doctor used to say, “Are you working out? Eating healthy? Great! Keep it up.” Her schedule happened to change a year ago which is how I stumbled upon a new doctor that truly cared about me and used new knowledge to fix obesity in her patients. On the day of my first appointment with this new doctor she came in handed me this book: “The Obesity Code” by Jason Fung and just said it had a lot of new research with amazing breakthroughs. She also noticed a lot of people have been trying intermittent fasting and high-fat diets from these studies and that I should read the book for homework, schedule a six month check up and see how I am doing. I was skeptical but it did work. I have lost a ton of weight since last February.
Now, people talk about it all the time. Those two diet fads are so popular everyone is doing it and that is awesome but I will say it drives me crazy how much it has become the point of conversation around me personally. I am happy I am looking healthier but I also don’t want it to be the main focus for who I am. I see people and that is the first thing they bring up, or I get off stage and a male comedian tells me, “You keep gettin skinny on me.” Like wow! Glad you were keeping an eye on my fat count you old geezer. I have to be honest, I gained a tiny bit back at times due to stress eating. It became this new standard I had given myself and I hated that people reminded me to check myself.
So, what did I do? I ate baby and gained some back. I am finally getting back to just incorporating my new way of living into my life and taking care of myself but I keep hearing so much hate about people’s image. I don’t know if this blog is even helpful but it is just something I had to sit down and get off my chest. Stop telling me what I am other than smart, strong, and beautiful. The little meany bugs in our brains like to come out and say awful things sometimes especially in fits of rage, jealousy or judgment. I get it. But why not try to hold it in and see ways that a person is trying their best. We all need to remind ourselves that maybe someone didn’t ask for your input. I see a million smokers get more respect than people that are discriminated for their body’s appearance.
We live in an age where everyone wants to have an opinion on someone and the easiest points to be made are about looks. Sorry to pull out my improv brain but why not try some A to C thinking when you are going to look into why someone triggers thoughts of excitement, rage, sex (I don’t know lol). We are better than using appearance to get places. The next time you (By you, I mean all the haters. I see you.) want to start talking about someone’s weight in a way that they are failing themselves you should remember that doctors have been failing people for decades. As Jason Fung stated on the Obesity Code podcast, “One thing I want people to see when I educate people is that we don’t see obesity as their fault, I see obesity as a failing of the medical community to provide the correct advice to people to lose weight and not be diabetic.” The next time you want to comment on someone’s physical appearance ask yourself what else has this person done to make you feel the need to go there and then reflect on why it is something you obviously care so much about.
As for myself, I would like to say that I wasn’t born into a creative life to worry about my body and where it gets me other than walking and talking. I chose The path as an artist to create another love language. I want to make people feel good and that is when we truly look our best.
En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Body positivity. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity [Accessed 7 Dec. 2018].
Dusenbery, Maya. “Doctors Told Her She Was Just Fat. She Actually Had Cancer.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 18 Apr. 2018, www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/a19608429/medical-fatshaming/.
Kolata, G. (2016, September 26). Why Do Obese Patients Get Worse Care? Many Doctors Don't See Past the Fat. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/26/health/obese-patients-health-care.html
Kite, L. Talks, TEDx. Youtube, Youtube, 6 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=128&v=uDowwh0EU4w
Fung, J. (2016). The obesity code: Unlocking the secrets of weight loss. Vancouver: Greystone Books.
Tovar, Virgie Tovar Virgie. “Take the Cake: Why Fat Liberation Isn't About Whether Fat People Are Healthy.” Ravishly | Media Company, ravishly.com/fat-liberation?fbclid=IwAR1TG_i60pYDQvXpaeKOeOGpziyTPfYz64W4I94u7j_VqYLgx9NNbLBfDW0.