Body positive – confidence or a cover up?
Where do you stand on fat? Should you be proud, ashamed, confident, covered up?
Last week I was listening to the wonderful Women’s Hour on the impact of the Body Positive Movement – that radical group of black women who stood up in the 1990s and refused to be shamed for having bodies bigger than the norm. I started off positive and by the end of the interview – pretty angry.
Let me start on where I am on fat versus thin – for I have been both. I started as a skinny kid who ballooned in her late teens. By early twenties I was severely anorexic and plummeted to under 6 stone. I started to eat and went back to 14 stone and then battled for years to normalise. In my early fifties stress and foolish dieting put me back into the borderline obese range and now I am slowly getting back to a healthy weight by simply following the common sense of Slimming World. So I have been fat, thin and in-between. I have had the pain of being called ‘the fat girl’ and the fear of eating a morsel over 200 calories a day. I have had the joy of trying on a dress and thinking ‘you look Sassy!’ So any kind of shaming - fat, thin or normal is bad in my books and I applaud the three beautiful bloggers on the Women’s Hour website who are reclaiming the word fat and refusing to see themselves as ugly by size. Good for them.
But…and this is a big but. There is a danger that being militantly positive about fat also leads to the belief that talking about the impact of obesity is the equivalent of fat-shaming. It is not. Also, if we normalise obesity we are normalising poor health and erroneous thinking about the reality of being fat. So when Rachel Sealy claimed on the programme that it is fat-shaming that leads to health problems and that a doctor had no good reason to mention her weight when she presented with a back problem she is being not only irresponsible but inaccurate.
The reality is that, unless you are one of the small minority with hypothyroidism, then obesity is not a normal state for the human body. Our bodies are built for survival and only bad diet and lack of movement sets up a physical state which is counter-survival. Yes, you can choose to be fat and happy, but do not kid yourself that you are healthy. In fact, you have a very high chance of:
- Type 2 diabetes (which means you die early and can lose your sight and legs!)
- Fatty liver disease (which shortens life)
- High blood pressure (which can lead to a stroke)
- Heart disease (which leads to heart attacks)
- Cancer of the breast, bowel and womb (I don’t need to explain the consequences)
- Back problems, joint problems and osteo-arthritis
- Gallstones (they hurt!)
- Sleep apnoea which reduces good sleep (which is linked to a worrying range of illnesses and dementia)
If obesity was healthy it would not be costing the British National Health Service over £6 billion (more than our police, fire service and judiciary combined!) and directly causing over 30,000 deaths a year.
So if you are big and Sassy and happy – I applaud you for being confident in your own skin. But please do not fool yourself that your body is as happy as your brain. If you want to be healthy and Sassy and live to a ripe old age then take control. If you are thinking it is impossible – I understand. I was there for years myself until Sassista Two kicked my substantial backside into gear. I can share the following advice with you:
- Stop thinking of a diet as deprivation. It is simply a change in habit. I am six months in and 18 pounds down by following the simple Slimming World method and summarised in our article. I have never been hungry.
- Start moving. Every time you move you build muscle and burn calories. Find an exercise you like whether it is walking, cycling or kick-boxing. We are doing a series on different exercise options so take a look our articles on body balance, Zumba and spin cycling and watch out for upcoming articles on pilates, walking etc.
- Sleep. Yes it sounds counter intuitive but good sleep – that means 8 hours a night – balances the hormones which regulate eating and also ensure you burn fat and not muscle. So sleep yourself slim. See our article on sleep.
Three little changes could get you Slim and Sassy and save your life.
One last word: Next year we are launching Sassy Retreats and one will be focused on body confidence. If you have ideas of what you would love to see covered – then get in touch.