This month we delve deeper into the My Body, My Temple theme, introducing topical issues around women’s bodies that we feel need to be engaged with and discussed. I’ll open the floor. Let’s talk about Body Positivity.
In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned that autonomy over our bodies has always been monitored by the powers that be. When it comes to weight in particular, the idea that “thin” represents high status, wealth, stability and even morality has been cunningly implanted in our subconscious minds. Body positivity is a movement that rejects this notion and replaces it with an alternative truth: all body types are equal.
Unfortunately, the earnest intentions of this movement have been diluted by mass media and some sections of the fitness and public health communities. It has been reduced to something that they claim promotes obesity and normalises a lifestyle of over-indulgence. Looking at the founding principle of the movement, it follows that there is nobody type hierarchy.
In other words, it cannot, by definition, “promote obesity”. Conveniently ignoring this point, opponents’ solution to the “potential obesity epidemic” this movement may cause is to promote diets and exercise. While I firmly believe in eating well and exercising regularly, a lifetime of comments on my body by family, friends and strangers has made me well-attuned to the tone of these kinds of suggestions. Their “concern” is a scam. It reeks of fatphobia.
I have always used my weight as a metric for the power I have over my life. When I gain weight, I feel like I am letting myself go and have no control. I tend to project these feelings on to others, seeing their weight gain as laziness instead of considering other viable (and positive) reasons like a better salary or a healthy romantic relationship.
After I over-indulge in sugary foods, my concern is not that I am exposing myself to the risk of diabetes; I am concerned about the effects it will have on my body aesthetically. Cue the diets, the YouTube weight-loss spells (don’t ask), the pills, the obsession over the number on the scale. My fixation with ensuring I appear as a woman who has control and stability in her life is playing right into the hands of the enemy, and taking away precious time to treat myself with care.
In an article on the Pranin Organic blog, Naomi Wolff calls diet culture “the most potent political sedative in women’s history” because of the way it keeps us preoccupied with thinness instead of organising ourselves to tackle our socio-political issues or working on our personal development. The good sis read me and my internalised fatphobia for filth. Perhaps I am a social climber, I don’t know. But ladies, it is obvious that this is a discussion that must be had truthfully and honestly.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, stories and opinions on this, so please share them with us!
By Nande Nodada