Uncategorized

Because I Love My Body (aka In Defense of Corissa)

corissa_05-1080x720One of the fashion bloggers I enjoy following is Corissa of Fat Girl Flow. I love her style and “I’m fat and don’t give a fuck what anyone says about it” attitude.

Recently she posted a video where she stated “Do not look me in the eye, tell me you are on Weight Watchers and then, in the next breath, tell me that you are body positive”. This was addressed to bloggers and others who claim to be body positive yet have intentionally lost weight or are currently in the process.

What a brouhaha that started. People… mostly women… vehemently asserted that they indeed love their bodies and/or are body positive. Usually, though, those claims were followed by some version of “but I need to lose weight for my health”. Others praised Weight Watchers as a company that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

I consider myself body positive and completely agree with Corissa’s statement. It was long journey to get to this level of acceptance, self-love and positivity after decades of hating my body and engaging in the weight loss/gain cycle.

But WHY is weight loss not body positive? Let’s examine that, shall we?

The body positive movement was started in response to the notion that only certain body types are ideal. This notion leads to negative body image which is linked to poor self-care, disordered eating or other harmful methods and behaviors to attain that “ideal”.

Body positivity, as outlined in the Be Body Positive Model, encourages us to accept and love our bodies exactly as they are and respect that people come in all shapes/sizes/weights. Instead of changing our bodies, the movement emphasizes changing the relationship with our body and adopting a weight neutral approach to health and self-care.

OK, so what does being “weight neutral” mean? It means acknowledging that our health doesn’t depend upon, and can’t be assumed by, the numbers on a scale or the size of one’s body. Also, there is no disease that is caused by being fat. Slender people also suffer from issues like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, vascular disease, etc.

In other words, intentional weight loss by methods such as surgery, weight loss products or eating less than your body requires won’t guarantee improvement in your health. Treating your body in that way is neither loving nor positive.

What IS positive: making changes or adopting habits to help improve health and fitness (IF that is your choice because pursuing good health is not an obligation) such as changing the foods you eat (like whole foods in favor of processed foods) or incorporating exercise for pain relief, better mobility or stamina. There may be weight loss as a result; then again there may not be. And that’s OK because there’s no expectation of it.

Do you understand the difference?

2016-09-02 (3)

I’ll use myself as an example. The photo on the left is from May; the one on the right is from a couple of weeks ago. There’s no difference but a bit of a tan, right? Except that, mostly due to eating less carbohydrates to reduce my blood glucose, my A1C level (which measures average glucose over 3 months) dropped from 12.2 to 7.2  and cholesterol went from 203 to 184. Also my liver enzymes, AST and ALT respectively, dropped from 81 and 105 to 22 and 27. However, my endocrinologist wasn’t pleased with the weight loss or, rather, the lack of it… ah well.I love my body too much to restrict the calories it needs on a daily basis. I can improve my health without weight loss.

It’s easy to understand how some people can be led to believe that intentional weight loss is good and healthy especially when many companies co opt body positivity to promote weight loss products or services. Like Kellogg’s Special K whose previous commercial used a scale that, instead of numbers, flashed inspirational words like “confidence”, “sass” and “joy” (a brazen copy of fat acceeptance activist Marilyn Wann’s “Yay Scale”) to help women feel better about themselves yet ended with the tag line “What will you gain when you lose?”

Then there’s Weight Watchers whose very name says the focus is on weight. Weigh-in’s are used to track progress. Instead of members learning to pay attention to their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues,  they count “points”. Once the day’s points are used, they can’t eat any more even if their body is asking for more food. That doesn’t sound very positive or loving.

And the kicker is that Weight Watchers doesn’t work and they know it… in fact they count on it. According to New York Magazine:

It’s brilliant not because Weight Watchers works but because it doesn’t. It’s the perfect business model. People give Weight Watchers the credit when they lose weight. Then they regain the weight and blame themselves. This sets them up to join Weight Watchers all over again, and they do.

The company brags about this to its shareholders. According to Weight Watchers’ business plan from 2001 (which I viewed in hard-copy form at a library), its members have ‘demonstrated a consistent pattern of repeat enrollment over a number of years,’ signing up for an average of four separate program cycles… Former CFO Richard Samber explained that the reason the business was successful was because the majority of customers regained the weight they lost, or as he put it: ‘That’s where your business comes from.’

But what about those aforementioned studies showing Weight Watchers works? There’s an important catch: While most dieters do lose weight in the short term, they gain most of it back in the long term. In the one study that followed up with Weight Watchers dieters over a longer-term span, the average dieter had already regained six of the 12 pounds they had lost when researchers checked in two years later. This general pattern is true no matter the diet, and the weight regain only continues in the years that follow. My lab reviewed 60 years of clinical trials of diets, and we found that people lose an average of 10 percent of their starting weight on most diets but within two to five years have gained back all but about two pounds.

Why, then, subject yourself to that failure? That doesn’t sound loving or positive.

HOWEVER, if you wish to embark on intentional weight loss then it is your choice. Just, please, don’t say you’re body positive. You can’t have it both ways.

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Because I Love My Body (aka In Defense of Corissa)

  1. This is awesome. Corissa is a role model for me. I am on a journey to lower my blood pressure and everyone keeps telling me to lose weight. I am not interested in losing weight at all. I am comfortable and happy with my body. I am trying to cut down on soda and trying relaxation techniques to help lower it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very well written blog but I do feel the need to disagree slightly. I agree that weight and size does not always have an impact on health conditions but there are exceptions to that rule. I am Plus Size, I am very proud of who I am and I feel I am very body positive however I have taken the decision that I would like to lose some weight, it is not to do with appearance or weight but I have arthritis in my knees and I have recently been diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumour. Both of these things will improve and be more manageable if I lose some weight and improve my general fitness. I am not talking about losing massive amounts and changing my body complete as I do love my body and what it is capable of. I just know I want to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible for myself and my family. Sometimes we need to change our body, not because we don’t love it but because we do. I am body positive and I want the world to know that it’s OK and bloody fantastic to accept who you are and make the decisions that are right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the compliment. I’m sorry to hear about your health issues. As you indicated, you’re doing what you feel is best for you. But when it comes to intentional weight loss, it’s not body positive. Health and fitness can be improved without making weight loss a goal.

    I also have arthritis in my knees due to previous injuries and found a lot of pain relief by following the exercises from Cinder Ernst of Heal Your Knees. I highly recommend her. Here’s a link to her site, I hope it helps:
    http://cinderernst.com/howtohealmykneepain/

    Like

  4. I think this is something we will disagree on. I think telling someone that they are not body positive as they make a personal choice for them is in fact going against the body positive message. Every person is allowed an opinion and I respect yours however I would rather support a women with a decision she has made no matter what that is. The choice to lose weight if done for the right reasons (by that I mean without pressure from others) is absolutely a positive step if it improves someone’s life. I remain body positive and I will do no matter my shape or size as I am happy within and I will stay that way.

    Like

  5. To be clear, I am not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do with their body. However, the reason for Corissa’s video (and my post defending it) was because of the assertion that dieting and intentional weight loss are body positive. The operative word is “intentional”. That goes against the weight neutral health approach encouraged by the very founders of the Body Positive Movement. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwzRGkGS2OV-c3FYZmhxY1FJYms/view

    Like

  6. i love that you are positive about your body, if only more people could be accepting of theirs. Thank you for your post, I needed a positive boost because I am one of those people (even though I try so hard not to be!) that focuses on a number on the scale. I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and it kills me to weigh myself but by small steps I am trying to reach a love for my body.

    Carlee- evenmoreyou.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, congratulations! Think of all the wonderful things your body is doing, not just for you but also for your little one. What’s not to love? It’s not an overnight journey, though. The important thing is that you’re taking baby steps forward (no pun intended).

      If you’re on Facebook, I have a page (https://www.facebook.com/amplyemmy) with affirmations and body positive stories that may be helpful. Good luck!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to disagree. I am on weight watcher and the reason I do ww is it helps me portion control stay on track and eat whats healthy. And I have a huge group of woman all shapes and sizes for support.
    I have to be careful with my weight due to health reason I have heart disease that runs on both sides and i am boarder diabetic
    I am not saying this to be rude but I tired of seeing curving women dissing women wanting to loose weight I am all for you loving your body the way it is.
    I know this first hand I have suffered from anorexia since I was a teen and now I am recovered but I am over weight now going on 30. and I like to get down to a healthly size due to health like I stated before.

    ITS OK to be body positive and to loose weight. I believe we should ALL BE HEALTH POSITIVE bc that what matters. and if we have to loose a couple pounds so be it. and weight watcher for me is a tool to have control.

    Like

    1. I can understand your frustration with being criticized for losing weight. It’s your body and your choice, right?

      Having said that, you miss the point of being body positive. It means:
      1. Accepting that bodies come in all shapes and sizes
      2 Taking a weight neutral approach to self care and health

      Intentional (that is the operative word… intentional) weight loss… via weight loss programs like WW, diet products, surgery, etc… does not fit the definition of being body positive. Also, saying “we should ALL BE HEALTH POSITIVE” doesn’t acknowledge or respect that everyone has the right to do with their body as they choose just as you’re doing as you want with yours.

      So lose weight if that’s what you want but please don’t change the definition of what being body positive is. Thanks and have a great holiday.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s