Some friends & I have been having a pretty interesting conversation about the current emphasis on what’s known as the body-positive movement’ (BPM); in brief, the body-positive movement “explores taking up occupancy inside your own skin, rather than living above the chin until you’re thin. It’s a set of ideas that may help you find greater well-being in the body you have”.
In principle, the BPM is wonderful, and so very badly needed by many women and men; but on the other hand, we believe there’s a large amount of negativity and/or ‘badness’ that can go along with this – one example being of the site where I found the above definition, the reason I haven’t linked directly to it is because of the way that – slightly lower down the page – eating disorders are incorrectly addressed – and I, for one, do not wish to spread misinformation.
Of course, this being my blog, I’m going to focus on my perspective and my opinions, but having shared this discussion with friends, I’d like to share it now with you all, and carry it on in the comments too.
Many people might say I’m in no position to comment on the BPM – I’m ‘skinny’ and so receive ‘skinny privilege’ and wouldn’t know what it’s like to be ‘fat’; and while that may be true, as a woman I’m still subjected to all sorts of people thinking they can – and should – share their opinion on my body, and often that their opinion should be taken over my own knowledge and/or preferences; additionally – body-positivity is for all people: not just women, not just “plus-sized” women, not just “fat” people – but everyone who has ever and/or continues to feel uncomfortable in their body.
As I said late last year, I used to get bullied for my slender, shapeless body in senior [high] school; while at the same time girls in my year were getting bullied for being more shapely and having breasts, as well as being “fat”.
Even then, I realised – among both guys & gals – that few peoples’ bodies were “right” – guys were “too skinny” or “too fat”, “too tall”, or “too short”; gals had “no boobs” or “huge boobs”, or were “fat” or needed to “eat something”.
This didn’t – and still doesn’t – sit right with me, surely with all the choices and options for bodies, most of them couldn’t be “wrong”…surely – if anything was “wrong” – it would be people in a minority, but even then I knew that as long as a body does what it’s owner needs it to do, it can’t be wrong – even if it wouldn’t quite do what its’ owner wants it to do.
I have no issue with sharing with you all that I’ve suffered with an eating disorder – and as with the majority of people who have and/or are overcoming an eating disorder, it had nothing to do with my weight, my size, or even my appearance; it ran much, much deeper.
Recovery is a long and difficult road, but today, I’m definitely towards the end of that road, but having the knowledge I do, I’m often left feeling cold, both from the way the BPM sometimes treats skinny women – taking the song “All About the Bass” as a perfect example; as well as the way society views eating disorders – for instance this “how to tell if someone is anorexic” article is mostly a list of things some people may do in varying amounts during different times, but never actually mentions any real causes to consider or underlying signs to look for.
Of course, I’m not saying the article should be a medical text (it’s only Wikihow, after all), but trying to find some real, factual information on anorexia isn’t very easy; even sites that often are great for factual information don’t seem able to show the basic understanding that anorexia and bulimia are two different disorders, and although one person can have both, it doesn’t mean that everyone with one has the other. Personally, I don’t even feel comfortable looking up or sharing anything about bulimia because of the inaccuracies I constantly see about anorexia.
As an aside, this post on Mind sums up the facts on eating disorders fairly well:
People don’t seem to understand that it isn’t a lifestyle choice. An eating disorder is portrayed as a desire to be the thinnest person in the world for vanity purposes. It’s ridiculous how far removed from the truth that is. In actual fact it has very little to do with body image and much more to do with emotional control and distress.
While I have no issue with whatever shape or size any given person may or may not be, I think there are a lot of things people feel prevented from saying because of the BPM: sometimes even simple style advice about something as mundane as tucking a blouse into a skirt, or moving where a belt is placed; I also think that – worryingly – it often stifles open discussion about healthy weight loss and diet.
In the (relatively) safe space of my blog I’m not afraid to share that I’m trying to eat more healthily – Mr LPU & I have recently bought a juicer – I’m not a fan of many fruits & vegetables, and know that I should be consuming more, and this is one way for me to do so easily.
I’m also not afraid to share my love of yoga – many of you will have seen me share a photo of an amazing pair of yoga pants on Instagram last week; but I don’t do yoga in order to “be skinny” – I’d need to do hours upon hours every day – I do yoga because, slowly, it’s helping to fix many of the various mobility and alignment issues I have in my body from sitting incorrectly, being clumsy, getting injured, and so on.
So today, I propose a new BPM: one where nobody is teased, bullied, or made to feel ashamed because of the house that holds their consciousness; BUT as a community, we know we’re able to make helpful comments & suggestions on the appearance of another person – never criticisms – and if somebody reaches out asking for help to loose weight, tone up, and/or eat healthier – or even to gain weight in a healthy way – we don’t tell them they don’t need to loose weight (it’s not our decision), nor do we disparage (“why do you want to put weight on?”) or sabotage their efforts (” oh, skip the gym today”, “have some cake”).
We are all human, and we all should be supporting one another in our endeavours – as long as they don’t harm anyone, whether it’s something we believe the other person should be doing or not.
If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, please find someone you trust to tell – be it a family member, friend, doctor, or even a helpline; if someone you know shares with you about an eating disorder, please listen to them, talk to them, but never jump to conclusions about their motivations or force them to do anything they don’t want to. Eating disorders can be overcome, but only with love and support.