Everyone should aspire to a healthy lifestyle—plus sized or not
By Jane Diokpo, Contributor
The body positivity movement has shown its toxicity when advocates demonizing healthy lifestyles like a basic balanced diet and regular exercise
In the 2000s, being skinny was the ideal body type and the image of optimum attractiveness. Stars like Paris Hilton, Amanda Bynes, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Lindsay Lohan were typically praised for how they maintained their slim figures. To be a model in high fashion runways (like Karlie Kloss and Liu Wen) or in more low-key magazine spreads, you had to fall below a weight standard. Due to the lean body type being the most represented in mainstream media, it was all young girls and boys saw and aspired to be. Eating disorders were common, with subcultures dedicated to the harmful habit arising (i.e., PRO-ANA). Many young people’s general dissatisfaction with their body image was at a noticeable high. It was no surprise that a growing need arose for the acknowledgement of this toxic trend of prioritizing skinny body types over people’s overall well being and the romanticization of unrealistic standards. Hence, the body positivity movement came into the mainstream and was strongly advocated.
It is important to note that it has always existed, even way back in the ’60s—but it gained a solid strong hold on the 2010s with people taking the subject matter more seriously. Many young people globally came together to bring more awareness to the normalization of “regular bodies” (most especially, bodies that veer away from the previously highly esteemed slim body type). Countless communities on the internet, on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram, have been dedicated to spreading the movement and advocating its beliefs. Numerous celebrities joined the movement, sharing selfies of their natural post-pregnancy bodies (such as Chrissy Teigen) or un-photoshopped bodies (such as Demi Lovato). Brands that are plus-sized inclusive have become a must and plus-sized models like Ashley Graham are in demand. Even music artists have been involved in one way or the other; Nicki Minaj, Lizzo, and Meghan Trainor, to name a few.
However, in an embodiment of toxic body positivity, some of these music artists noticeably belittle people with slim bodies to uplift others without. Meghan Trainor has been blasted for her lyrics that pitch slim people against plus-sized people in her song “All About That Bass.” Advocates like her have misinterpreted the movement as an opportunity to belittle slim people on behalf of plus-sized people, but they are no better than the slim people who did vice versa in the 2000s. Also, the movement has ironically birthed another unrealistic body standard which is the over-exaggerated hourglass shape that celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and countless Instagram models conform to and unconsciously broadcast to young people everywhere.
Another issue is the lack of moderation or a fine line in the movement. The body positivity movement has shown its toxicity when advocates demonizing healthy lifestyles like a basic balanced diet and regular exercise; it’s seen as yet more pressure on people to maintain a certain weight to please the public. In reality, regardless of beauty ideals enforced by others or oneself, plus sized or slim, everyone should aspire to live a healthy lifestyle to avoid chronic health issues.
Recently, celebrities like Lizzo (a body positive musician) and Adele have come under fire for making efforts to lose weight for their own personal well-being. Many body positive advocates thought they were pressured into doing so by the public, as many argue society largely still fat shames. However, the world should be able to discern between someone losing weight for others and losing weight for themselves; the latter seemingly the case for both Adele and Lizzo who have expressed they personally did not feel comfortable with their previous weights.
If plus-sized people feel perfectly fine with their weights (while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise) they can remain plus-sized. But if there are some, like Lizzo and Adele, who aren’t comfortable with staying big, they should not be shamed or accused of not supporting the body positivity movement just for having their own separate and personal experiences with body weight. There should be less generalizations; people are different so more considerations should be taken in the movement. Non-plus-sized body types need to be included more and we all need to dig a bit deeper when addressing why separate individuals choose to be plus-sized or not.