I’m a big fan of body acceptance. One thing thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that many people don’t fully understand the many reasons folks like me advocate for body acceptance.
For instance, I recently saw an article by a plus-sized model in which she talked about feeling beautiful and comfortable in her own skin. There were a lot of nasty comments to the effect of: ‘I agree that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful, but beauty isn’t the issue. You’re going around promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, you horrible slovenly person.’ (That’s a polite paraphrase.)
I thought but didn’t write, ‘What do we know about this model’s lifestyle? All we’ve read is ten paragraphs about learning to feel comfortable in a bikini (nothing about her day-to-day life at all), and we’ve seen two photographs. And how can we know any thing about whether or not she’s a healthy person from that, let alone whether she’s a “good” person?!’
Plus-sized models and ‘plus-size’ people who aren’t models are beautiful. That is the issue this model wanted to write about; why shame her for that?
That said, that’s not the only reason to stop making judgments about others’ bodies. Here are three important reasons for body acceptance that sometimes don’t get as much hype.
I can’t tell how healthy you are by looking at you.
Our culture falsely promotes the notion that body size is directly correlated to health. It’s not. Healthy people come in all shapes and sizes. Unhealthy people also come in all shapes and sizes. It drives me bananas when I overhear someone say a complete stranger is lazy or out of control or generally not taking care of him- or herself, just because that person is fat. You can’t determine what anyone eats or drinks or what kind of exercise they do or how much they sleep or whether they are struggling with depression or anxiety or anything else about a person just by looking at them.
Different healthy people look different. Robyn wrote a great post about this recently.
Your health is your business.
Your health is important. So is your salary. However, unless your choose to sue your employer on a workplace discrimination charge, your salary is no one’s business except your own, your closest family members’, and your boss’s.
Your health is also no one’s business except your health care professionals’ and perhaps your closest family members’. How would you feel if someone started prying and gossiping about how much you sleep or how much sodium you consume or whether you wear sunscreen? Weird and uncomfortable, maybe even hurt? Then don’t do the same concerning anyone else’s eating or exercise, whatever their shape and size.
Health is amoral.
Eating is amoral. So is exercise, sleep, brushing your teeth, showering, breathing, tanning, dying your hair…health itself is morally neutral. Alyssa’s post from a couple of weeks ago touched on this when she talked about how “our morality is not tied to the food we eat.”
Even if we could know what that model eats or how much she exercises, that wouldn’t tell us squat about whether or not she’s a good person or whether or not she “deserves” to feel comfortable in her bikini.
Linking up with Amanda to share these thoughts for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.
Why else do you think it’s important to accept our own or others’ bodies as they are?
Anyone had a chance to feel beautiful in his or her bathing suit yet this summer?