I weigh 229 lbs. I’m a size 14. I spend my time exercising with low-impact routines outdoors these days because I like it and my body likes it. When I was a runner, I would run 4 miles, 3-4 times a week. In THIS body.
I can’t say I read The Telegraph Tanya Gold’s poor excuse for an article in its entirety, but everything I needed to know was within the first 3 paragraphs. To speak with such reproach for plus-sized inclusion is the shame cocktail being handed out at every closed-door elitist party.
-Two-parts societal fear-mongering
-One-part elitist propaganda
-Twist of self-revulsion.
But the greatest disservice Ms. Gold provided was the sheer lack of journalistic research to back her alarmist perspective.
Although the number of studies in body image, particularly within the body positive movement, is lacking, there’s significant research showing the correlation between those who hold a positive body image and healthy habits, including intuitive eating and vigorous exercise, regardless of their body size.
In fact, Ms. Gold’s fear-mongering left us with the assumption that we must repent in solitude for our fat bodies. For Nike to accept our existence is to lose the “war on obesity” and push people “into an early grave”!
(A hypothesis that has been thoroughly debunked, by the way.)
Citing Tiffany M. Steward in Obesity, “Perceiving oneself as overweight has been shown to be counterintuitively associated with an increased risk of future weight gain in adults from the United States and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, “weight labeling” by parents or schools during childhood and/or adolescence is correlated with weight gain later in life. Therefore, rather than increasing the likelihood that individuals with overweight or obesity will make positive behavior changes if made aware of their “status,” the stigma and associated stress may have the opposite effect.”
Representing different body sizes isn’t “encouraging poor health”. It gives those with larger bodies agency over their bodies, so they can choose to take care of it.
And it’s no coincidence this was a female writer speaking about women’s apparel. We think the patriarchy ends at the tip of a dick, but really this begins with the messaging we absorb into our psyche and what we allow ourselves to believe about it, regardless of gender.
When people try to cultivate fear around other’s bodies, they’re really speaking from a deeply ingrained patriarchal stance in efforts to remove agency from our physical autonomy. When that person is a woman speaking to other women, the attention to that very detail is a projection of their beliefs about how they should look. THEIR insecurities about their own bodies.
Perpetual body shaming in media and marketing greases the wheel, allowing it to leak out into our personal and professional lives. I can attest to this working 15 years in the beauty & retail industries.
It begins by becoming accustomed to the subtle body shaming that’s masked as “uniform requirements”. You’re told you are “held to higher standards”. Soon, the subtleties turn into blatant sexism. Your “image” is rated alongside your productivity and attendance in performance reviews.
Like any form of abuse, over time you have no idea how to separate it from your identity. The opportunities available to you depend on your compliance. And your compliance is mandatory. You begin to expect others to do the same and use the same fear and intimidation to shame others into compliance, perpetuating the cycle.
But not to fret. Just as we’ve seen with the rise of support against abortion bans, together we can deny this too. The solution is buried within our minds and is within our control. How? By stopping to question what is being said and why. By curiously questioning the intent, you can peel back to reveal the nefarious message. You can choose to not absorb it. You can choose to discard it as rhetoric.
And loving yourself. Because loving yourself is a rebellious act. There are so many people who just can’t do it for themselves. A lot of the time, it’s not their fault.
Being an example of what self-love looks like will encourage others to be courageous. Courageous enough to go to the gym wearing their Nike attire because it fits and because they want to take care of themselves. Like every fucking person has the right to.
P.S. Need a little help with that? Click here to get more info.
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