Tag Archives: anorexia

Why We Don’t Need Fat Acceptance

I swear I am not trying to contradict Kat’s every post.

Yes, we’ve had have our differences.

We locked horns over femininity and warrior-princesses. Clashed over government regulation. Faced off on the subject of pride parades.

Again, I am not- not– trying to be combative.

That said, today’s post is all about why I think Kat is wrong on the subject of Body Positivism and the concept of “Fat Acceptance”

Now yours truly and our glorious editor have both weighed in on the subject of fitness and obesity more than once, and in her defense, I certainly don’t believe that Kat is offering her blessing to obesity or anything like that.

Still, things need to be said here.

First, I want to make it clear that I agree with Kat on pretty much each and every one of the issues that she brought up. Factors of mental health, poor self-image, unrealistic cultural demands- you won’t hear me dispute these for a second. And these are, absolutely, universal problems. While largely centering on women, there’s an undeniable presence of all this among men as well.

(Granted, that might have more impact if it wasn’t being said by Brad Pitt, but the point still stands.)

My problem isn’t with any of the things that Kat brought up, but rather with the conclusions she drew (or seemed to draw) from ’em. Allow me to kick the conversation off with the following statement:

Self-Esteem Without Quality Is Meaningless

Now granted, this isn’t so much a problem with what Kat said as it is with what much of the movement seems based on: just feeling good about yourself.

There is nothing- nothing– wrong with have good self-esteem, but only so long as that esteem is tethered to something of substance. Your efforts, your accomplishments, your principles- even your noble failures. These are all worth celebrating and taking pride in. However, if you’re telling yourself to like yourself simply to feel warm and fuzzy on the inside…

…then you’re going to run into some problems. Continue reading

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Body Positivity and “Healthy” Double Standards, or Why I Need Fat Acceptance Even Though I’m (Relatively) Thin

The moment you mention “fat” and anything positive in the same sentence you get a response that’s meant to put you in your place. It will usually go something like, “I don’t believe in encouraging unhealthy behaviour” or “I’m all for self-acceptance, but…”.

I certainly do understand this sentiment. I think social stigma can be a powerful way to discourage bad behaviour. Just look at MADD’s entire campaign against drunk driving, for example.

However, I do think there is an unnecessarily strong reaction against Fat Positivity. Below I’ve outlined 3 reasons why I think that reaction is unfair.

1) We overlook healthy individuals with large bodies because they don’t fit our cultural beauty standards 

The number one criticism of fat acceptance is that it encourages unhealthy behaviour. However, there are more and more examples that prove body size doesn’t always dictate health. Olympic hammer-thrower Amanda Bingson encountered this type of assumption when she was kicked off her high school volleyball team for not losing weight. Years later and she has been able to prove that a large body is just as capable of amazing things as a small body. It’s been encouraging to see her featured in this year’s ESPN Body Issue, the magazine’s “annual celebration of athletes’ amazing bodies”.

Another large and healthy individual who has come to my attention is yogi Jessamyn Stanley. I try (emphasis on try) to practice yoga every week, and yoga is, for me, one of the few physical activities I’m actually kind of okay at. That’s why I was stunned to see Stanley doing moves I am still far away from accomplishing. It’s clear to me that Stanley has the kind of core strength that most of the slender yogis in my classes still haven’t managed to build.

I cannot do this pose without assistance. I can maybe do a headstand on a good day, but just on my arms like this? No way.

Examples like Bingson and Stanley aren’t meant to prove that all large people are healthy. Instead, they offer a great reminder that size doesn’t necessarily dictate health. While large individuals are sometimes much more healthy than they look, some slim individuals can be much less healthy than they appear. Continue reading

The Human Barbie, Hairy Armpits, and Beauty Modifications

We’ve touched on beauty quite a few times here on CWR. We’ve celebrated when France banned beauty pageants for kids, dedicated a round table to discussing the idea of beauty and its changing standards, and, in The (Inner) Beauty Problem, even asked why we try to attribute beauty to everyone rather than giving more weight to other attributes.

So why does “beauty” as a topic come up so often? Well, probably because it’s a question that gets thrown at us every day through advertising. I for one, get this ad popping up on my Facebook every few days.

Continue reading

The (Inner) Beauty Problem

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now, however, a picture I recently saw finally gave me the push I needed to actually get down to it.

This was not that picture:

Against Suicide Tweet

It was however, a picture very similar. Adalia Rose, the little girl in this photo, was contrasted up next to a picture of a model, the caption beneath it reading something along the lines of “Like if you think this girl is just as pretty as this model.”

Readers, Adalia Rose is not beautiful.

And that’s okay.

Because between this and my religion posts, I’m looking to get in hot water with everyone I know…

Continue reading

Evan and Gordon and Kat Talk: Beauty

EVAN: Today, ladies and gentlemen, comes yet another E&GT that’s causing me seriously think about changing the title of the feature. Kat joins both Gordon and me in a three-person discussion we’ve been meaning to have for a while.

Today’s topic is one of Gordon’s making, so without further ado I am turning it over to him-

GORDON: Beauty is our topic for today.

Or perhaps “attraction” might be a better title. We’re going to be hashing out whether or not there’s an issue with being attracted to contemporary standards of beauty.

Now I bring this up because it’s been pretty well established that our contemporary standards of what’s attractive are, well, pretty unrealistic and often unhealthy. Though the 300 pounds of sheer blubber that would’ve turned heads two hundred years ago admittedly weren’t much better.

Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: Fat People

EVAN: Alright, ladies and gents, tonight Gordon and I are going to talk about a subject that may just help blot out the memory that was Man of Steel, and that is: fat people.

It was his suggestion, so I’m going to pass things off to him and get the ball rolling [no pun intended].

GORDON: More specifically, it’s the treatment we seem to offer the overweight in this country. I’m guessing you’ve seen at least one heftier person riding around the aisles of a grocery store in those little scooter things.

EVAN: Not so much here in Canada, but yes, they are indeed around. Again, no pun intended. Continue reading

Shame Day: The Body Positive Movement

I was recently listening to a stand-up routine by British comedian Robert Newman, who in the course of an Iraq War joke stated something I thought was pretty dang profound.

“Just because you’re fighting the bad guys doesn’t mean that you’re the good guys.”

I really can’t think of anyone this statement applies better to than the adherents of the rising “Body Positive Movement.”

You hear that, starving kids in Sudan?

Who are these people? Well, the the “body positive” movement is the result of a reaction against the air-brushed, Photoshopped, and ultimately anorexic presentation of beauty offered by mainstream culture. It’s given us Dove’s “True Beauty Campaign” in which “real” women were used as models (hoping you’ll forget that the same people who run Dove run Axe).

It’s given us memes like this:

And it’s given us a host of philosophical epitaphs on how the size of your brain or heart are vastly more important than the size of your waistline.

“Buuuut we’re gonna use a skinny model anyways…”

And it all has a certain logic to it. Forget society’s standards! Be comfortable with who you are! Your insides are all that should count! Reject anorexic beauty standards! Enough making yourself sick trying to pursue unrealistic and unattainable goals! Only you can make you feel inferior!

And so on.

Now I know that it must sound pretty weird that these people would wind up being the subject of a Shame Day. After all, what’s wrong with rejecting the media’s unattainable and anorexic standard of beauty and embracing your body for what it is?

Well, suppose your body looked something like this:

Sure, I could say this guy is “husky” or “bigger” or “shaped differently” or use any other paper-thin euphemism for fat. Doesn’t change a thing. I could name the asteroid about the hit the earth Friendly Ed and there’d still be as much devastation when Edward hits New York. We can call it anything we want- we’re still not changing the fact that being fat isn’t any more healthy than being stick-thin.

“But Gordon, you incandescent beacon of enlightenment, surely these people aren’t advocating anything like that!

And no, not all of them are- but enough of the big players are endorsing pretty much this philosophy. Let me offer this post from The Body Positive’s website as an example. In her article “‘Tis the Season to be Squishy”, Connie Sobczak asserts that there’s really nothing wrong with gaining weight during winter months, as this is simply the body’s natural reaction the cold as a result of evolutionary adaption. And that is true- only Sobczak goes on to use that factual statement to prop up some far more dubious claims.

“So, the next time you ‘feel like a steak’ or ‘need a cookie’ it could be your brain and not your stomach talking.” Out of the mouths of doctors!”

**** That.

What Sobczak is doing here is attempting to twist evolutionary biology into an excuse for lack of self-control. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat a bag of chips. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat a bag of chips in winter when you need more calories. There’s nothing wrong with stating that as your reason for eating more chips. But taking all of that and coming away with the conclusion that eating chips (or anything else) is retroactively sanctioned by biology and stating that this conclusion is supported by medical professionals is as dishonest as it is deluded.

Case and point.

Look, it’s true that who you are on the inside is vastly more important than who you are on the outside, no one is going to argue that. But let’s talk about excess, people. Let’s talk about gluttony. Aren’t these realities? Let’s compare the number of people who have had become ill or died as a result of being overweight and contrast it to the number who have become ill or died as a result of being underweight in this country. Which side is gonna have claimed more?

Now that ain’t an endorsement of anorexia or our twisted standards by any means, it’s simply a counter-point.

But hey- maybe it’s not a health thing. Maybe it’s just about being comfortable with who you are regardless of your size. That’s the line taken up by comedian Gabriel Iglesias in his stand-up routine.

Towards the end of one of his acts he states that he wouldn’t want to live to be a hundred if it means he couldn’t eat cake. He asserts that working out doesn’t ensure you’ll live long- why not enjoy life while you have it?

Why not indeed?

So if that’s the case, why are we jumping on the bulimic and anorexic members of society in the fist place? Hey- if health isn’t an issue and happiness is, why is a a girl weighing less than seventy five pounds any worse than a girl weighing three hundred? Why is it “Body Positive” for a woman to expand her waistline and self-loathing when she expands her bust line? It just doesn’t pan out.

Look, I’m not here to offer any solutions. I’m six feet tall (when I’m not slouching, which is always) and skinny. I smoke a little bit, drink a little more, and could stand to cut down on the meat and up my intake of fruits and vegetables considerably. I don’t work out, but then again, if wolves were to be introduced to my city, I’d probably be ok. Despite my extreme examples, the vast majority of us are neither morbidly obese or carried off by strong winds. All that’s to say that I’m in no place to pass judgment on anyone, nor is it my intention to do so. I’m simply here to point out the hypocritical and seemingly self-serving logic being employed by the group in question.

Body Positive, shame on you.