I admit that I sighed rather deeply after reading last week's article on body positivity. Not because I doubt the author's good intentions, but because I'm fat, and I've been down this road before.
We fat people know we are fat. Our doctors finger wag at each appointment and chalk every complaint up to our weight. Strangers peer into our shopping carts and pass judgment on the contents. Every fat joke on tv is a dagger to the heart, every diet ad a twist of the knife.
Clothes don't fit us, chairs aren't made to hold us, and we are reminded constantly that when it comes to the societal ideal, we simply don't fit. It's demoralizing, and it doesn't do anything for our health – physical or mental.
The body positivity movement was borne out of a need to fight back against these biases. Recognizing that obesity is not a moral failing and that we can love our bodies for what they are gives us the strength to fight. We can then wage war on anti-fat biases, and address root causes such as genetic factors, food insecurity, addiction, mental health, mobility issues and lack of access to care.
In 2020, the Canadian Association of Bariatric Surgeons and Physicians published updated guidelines for addressing obesity, focusing more on health and quality of life, and working to address anti-fat bias in the medical community. These changes would not have been possible without body positivity; it took millions of overweight people fighting to be valued as individuals with complex medical backgrounds, instead of just numbers on a body mass index chart to make it happen.
Body positivity isn't about ignoring good health. It's about the strength to thrive in a world that values thinness and traditional standards of beauty and maybe change the conversation around what constitutes ideal size. It's not just daring to wear a crop top or ignoring the scale. It's about advocating for our health and discarding toxic dieting culture. Most importantly, body positivity is about knowing that our value as humans is not based on our waistlines, and that we are entitled to the same dignity and respect afforded our thin friends.