A dear client of mine asked me the other day what I see as ‘healthy’ within such an oppressive society where women are practically being told what is ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ and ‘loveable’ (to then feel they aren’t ‘it’).
It’s probably one of my favourite questions and one I could talk about forever- so I promised her I’d substantiate my answer in a blog post.
In my opinion the modern conception of ‘health’ is a load of BS. The quest for ‘health’ is an ever-changing pursuit; it’s incredibly vague, confusing and contradictory in definition by many who seemingly ‘flaunt it’ and however you define it being ‘healthy’ today is undeniably causing a significant rise in the number of ‘health’ induced medical conditions (ie PCOS, amenorrhea, orthorexia and clinical eating disorders…to name a few!).
To combat modern day ‘health’ and to protect my own health I decided a while ago to unsubscribe, unfollow and have nothing to do with anyone who tells me:
…..How I ‘should’ and ‘must’ look
…..What I should do to get a ‘hot’ body (squats while brushing my teeth- lame)
…..How I should eat to feel ‘sexy’ (this is getting OLD. New marketing strategy needed)
…..And whatever often BS marketing plan that basically sells/ educates what it is ‘to be appealing as a woman’
And I encourage you to do the same too. #liberating.
While I would love to think that someone’s weight, appearance and even health status/ choices/ behaviours should NEVER form grounds for discrimination or that someone’s weight is ‘their fault’, not everyone shares my views.
Furthermore not everyone agrees with something that I believe is essential to embrace when discussing ‘health’: weight is not an accurate way to measure and determine one’s health status.
When I consider what ‘health’ does not mean to me I think about the oppressive society we live in which basically reduces each of us to a certain dress size, hip measurement, and waist size….which then ‘grants’ favors, opportunities, or simple lack of punishment when the numbers are low enough. Otherwise known as the ‘thin privilege’.
And while it is of course true that not every ‘fat’ person has experienced stigma like not every ‘thin’ person has had a pleasant or positive experience being ‘thin’ (I know many thin women who are desperate to put on weight because of the discrimination the face), ‘fat’ stigma is real, pervasive and forceful.
And please, don’t think you have nothing to do with it…you most certainly do (ie. dieting, shaming/ judging/ ridiculing ‘fat’ people is playing into the hands of ‘fat’ stigma).
Yet while many ‘fat’ activists are doing some of the most incredible work educating and standing up for the rights of people regardless of their weight, there’s still a very scary divide between what society sees as ‘healthy’ and ‘not healthy’.
To the point where it’s almost uncool now to not be seen flaunting acai bowls, replenishing the energy stores after yoga with green smoothies or to be a ‘diet groupie’.
And have a read of this: One new friend who didn’t know too much about my work at that stage found it ‘odd’ that I didn’t have a coffee table full of ‘diet cookbooks’!! She told me: “Wow, you’re different- aren’t you on a diet?”
!!!!!! (I laughed a lot and she will be mortally embarrassed I’m sharing this story now she knows a lot about what I do…and since has become a client of mine!!).
Stigma and privilege exist regardless of whether we personally experience ‘them’/ ‘it’. And though I’m equally sorry that thin people cop crap for their weight too- it doesn’t mean that thin privilege or ‘fat’ stigma still isn’t a huge issue for society and that includes all of us too.
But it’s also important to acknowledge that while thin women undoubtedly receive privileges that ‘fat’ women don’t and women who are ‘fat’ endure challenges that ‘thin’ women don’t, thin women are still victims of this healthy crazed ‘fat phobic’ society we live in.
I know many women who have felt that the privileges of being thin have been a ‘protective factor’- they have received gratitude, favours and rewards for being ‘thin’ to the extent to which they fear ever gaining weight only to be perceived as ‘fat’. Which leads them to obsess about their weight and so the diet-binge cycle takes its toll.
Which is a big reason why many of you ‘thin’ women just aren’t yet open to the mindset of receiving help, despite being CRAZY around food…. Even though you know there are definite reasons for seeking support until you can understand that you are a victim to an oppressive culture of ‘thin = beautiful’ you will NEVER seek support.
…..which I find one of the saddest things ever. Self inflicted injury/ pain/ torture.
But let’s not for one second discredit that for many of these thin women to remain of this ‘status they are engaging in many unhealtful behaviours around food (ie. Deting, binge eating, restriction, diet-binge cycle)…all of which are not beneficial for their health and wellness (long or short term). Can we even open our minds up to the fact that these might be even worse than anything ‘fat’ people do?………
In an ideal world, health to me means living life in a way that is emotionally and physically fulfilling. Food is just one part of life’s ‘buffet’ (for my views on a ‘healthful’ eating mindset see here) and not something that involves rules, rigidities, obsessions and control.
Health comes in all shapes and sizes but really it’s measured by ones personal life satisfaction…even if that means you’re ‘fat’ with an amputated leg and a degenerative medical condition.
Controversial? I don’t think so.
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