Body Positivity is Killing Women

What do the hashtags #IWontCompromise, #EffYourBeautyStandards, #DareToWear, #AndIGetDressed have in common? They are all ultra intersectional feminist, “body positive,” and have accumulated over 700,000+ tags and counting on Instagram. Oh, and they are also killing women.

Allow me to explain.

No matter how many ludicrous comments saturate pictures of these body positive heroines, obesity is still a massive (no pun) issue within the health system. £25,000 is being spent a minute within the NHS (the U.K.’s national health service) on diabetes alone. In total, an estimated £14 billion is spent a year on treating diabetes and its complications, with the cost of treating complications representing the much higher cost. That number is just scratching the surface, with heart disease, high blood pressure and a copious amount of other obesity related chronic illnesses that are crushing health systems across the western world.

When the inevitable happens, and the obese patient is told that it is now a matter of life and death, the NHS seems to be freely handing out bypass surgeries at the cost of a tidy estimation of £32 million. Yikes. How many nurses would that pay for? How many beds would cater for generally ill people? Imagine how well equipped cancer wards could be with that nice little bonus? 

I know what you’re thinking, and it’s a theory that many people leap to when trying to fight against such a precipitous argument. What if the obese person we are currently critiquing has a health problem that causes weight gain? True, there are things that go wrong in the body that will cause unwanted or unprovoked weight gain. I myself suffer from hypothyroidism — which means lacking the function to create thyroxine and triiodothyronine, so my metabolic rate is constantly slow, which causes weight gain. I also have to take tablets that cause on average a 20 lb weight gain, and I also suffer from many joint and pain afflictions, that I will not bore you with the unpronounceable names of. Essentially, my point is I have every excuse in the world to have a weight problem, and be all “body positivity.”

A couple of years ago I did, being a former obese twenty something who was ashamed of her folds and rolls. Now, I am 55 lbs down and still going, I get frantically asked how I did it. No, not body positive but the fact of healthy eating and exercise. Yeah, those old chestnuts. Disappointing for those who were expecting some magical feel good story. Unfortunately, real life is much more prosaic. It’s a fight. Fighting is hard, and I think therein lies the problem. You don’t get fat by running, you get fat by over eating and not moving enough. Laze and greed to be mercilessly honest. Two genuinely appalling attributes that should not be revered, and is not positive by any means

Not convinced? Still cheerleading behind the big gals who parade in bikinis in train stations to convince people (and probably themselves) that it’s fine to be fat? Ok, how about another angle?

As I previously ran my own fashion label which was published in multiple international issues of Vogue, I noticed how these ultra-feminists attack the fashion industry. Models being too thin, companies not making a big enough selection of plus sized clothes, and designer labels not making plus size clothes at all.

The way these ladies will twist the truth to make it sound like they’re being victimized by the fashion industry is incredible. Of course reality is not as conspiratorial as these feminists would like you to believe. The majority of the time when a fashion brand uses bigger models for clothes that aren’t exclusively for bigger customers, the campaign loses money. The clothes don’t sell as well as ones that were used on smaller models. And whose fault is that? The consumer.

Chanel, Gucci, Givenchy etc. don’t have plus size collections because generally plus size women don’t spend hundreds of pounds on clothing. If these growing numbers of avid hashtag users were so happy with their shape, why isn’t the fashion industry changing? They’re excluding 24.9% of British who are obese from buying their products. Because that 24.9% aren’t buying them. Of course, I’m pleased we’re slowly crawling out of the heroin chic of the 90s, which was the other extreme of the spectrum, but it shouldn’t be replaced with the opposite end.

The most popular hashtag, #EffYourBeautyStandards, is headed by plus size model Tess Holliday, a 31-year-old American woman, and someone who is deemed by the health system as super morbidly obese. She absurdly believes that she can be healthy at the shocking weight of 280 lbs, a comment that she preaches to her 1.7 million followers on Instagram. In my opinion, that is not only dangerous, but outrageously irresponsible. Many of her followers are teenagers, being told their unhealthy lifestyle is fine, to carry on, not being given the warnings of the inevitable, of illness, pain, disability and eventually death. Even on her website’s front page, she describes herself as a body positive ambassador. What positivity is she speaking of?

Tess Holliday

#EffYourBeautyStandards is a misleading line, again, blaming the standards in which society and the fashion/beauty industries are making everybody envision what real beauty is like. I’m pretty sure we all have brains, and understand Photoshop/airbrushing etc., right? I don’t look at Kim Kardashian and wonder why I have a Buddha belly to match my big bum and she somehow embodies the most “perfect” curves without a sight of a stretch mark or a quiver of cellulite. This isn’t a question of beauty. It isn’t a question of standards. It’s an important debate that questions the seriousness of the damage this movement is causing.

The fact one needs to state something so obvious is itself ridiculous. It’s time to wake up. Obesity is not positive. It’s a dangerous plague that is being fueled by disillusioned women convincing themselves that they are happy, while leading a generation into early graves.

Holly Ashe

Holly is a London based fashion and culture writer. She was previously published in Vogue International as a fashion designer and a start-up business entrepreneur.

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Holly Ashe

Holly is a London based fashion and culture writer. She was previously published in Vogue International as a fashion designer and a start-up business entrepreneur.

109 thoughts on “Body Positivity is Killing Women

  1. I think people are misunderstanding what the author of the article is saying. Body Positivity is a movement indeed and an important one. However, having a positive reflection of your body, no matter what size you are while also taking GOOD CARE of your body is what the author is saying women are straying from. The people commenting are trying to debunk the truth by saying they’re fat and get a certain amount of exercise in a day and/or eat healthy. If that were true to the degree that these people commenting claim, then at some point they would see that their bodies would naturally begin to slim down. It’s not that hard of a concept to grasp: healthy diet+exercise (not even strenuous exercise, just get moving!)=weight loss. The point of this article was to debunk the bad rep body positivity is getting due to these women who literally remain overweight to prove that they too are beautiful at a bigger size than the “norm”, which is counterproductive.

    I’ve seen many overweight women that eat like shit and don’t get any type of exercise but scream body positivity. How are you doing anything positive for your body that it will thank you for in the future? I’ll wait. And I also wonder, is the body positivity movement open to thin women who get told they’re sticks or built like little boys outside of the fashion world? Hmm, I haven’t seen any. It seems like nowadays, we tear down other body types in order to make bigger women feel better about themselves and that’s not fair at all.

    The point, which many people missed, is this: Love your body during all of its stages but also take care of it as well. Taking care of your body includes the following: exercise, eating healthy, drinking water more than juice/soda, reducing things/people that cause you stress, which eventually does affect the body.

    And before anyone throws on their cape for all the fat women the author is supposedly attacking, I too was overweight my whole life until I turned 21. I was told by the doctor that if I didn’t do something about my weight, then I would be in the diabetes zone because i was already pre-diabetic. So what did I do? I changed my diet and exercised 5-6 times a week and now I’m down 100 lbs in 6 years since my journey and I couldn’t be more happier and it’s not because I’m smaller than I was but it’s because I have ENERGY for once, I can do moves in the gym I never thought I could and run for a longer period of time without feeling like death is approaching. If we’re going to condemn crackheads for fucking up their bodies, we need to hold overweight people accountable as well because obesity is NOT something that you’re born with.

  2. I feel that people on these comments are projecting their own emotions surrounding their history of eating issues/weight and societal judgment onto this article. I believe the core idea behind body positive movement is beneficial for building healthy self esteem and a culture of acceptance in our world. However, this article brings up important points to consider so that this body positive core message stays balanced and healthy in a sensible way. Like with all philosophies/ideas, pushing it too hard toward one side is also deviation from the truth. Balance is the key here. What I agree with the writer is that it’s never good to use a movement as an excuse for maladaptive behaviors. The Body positive movement is ultimately for the purpose of fostering healthy mental health. And why is healthy mental health/self esteem important?–because it will allow individuals to live their full life and make it wasier for them to make HEALTHY Choices. Many on the comments talk about the cycle of negative emotions that prevent them from listening to their bodies and engaging in self care activities. The body positive movement helps end that cycle. Then, the next goal shojld be to use that mental confidence to make concrete healthy choices that make you the happiest. Beauty is health. That is why the skinny/unrealistic media images are not good for women, bc those arent healthy images. At the same time, being obese is not healthy either. Both extremes result from not listening to their bodies. Natural body type and natural eating and natural exercise is healthy. But let me tell you, No one is naturally obese. Bodies aren’t designed to work like that. For anyone. I hope that women use new ideas for becoming stronger and wiser, not a new way to hide. These statements dont apply to every women, of course, just the ones who are still refusing to listen to their bodies.

  3. I have an eating disorder. I tried very hard to lose weight in an unhealthy way. By doing this I messed up my metabolism, and it still doesn’t work properly. I don’t enjoy going to the gym because when I do, everyone looks miserable. I know working out the way I did when I was disordered made me miserable. I’ve also been shamed by people at the gym for just being there. As if I don’t deserve to work out because I’m fat. I eat healthy, according to my doctor. I exercise by going to a body positive studio and dancing. I also work as a server and walk about 11 miles a day. The body positive movement is about loving yourself and not striving to fit an unattainable standard. Just because I’m fat, doesn’t mean I eat unhealthy or have health issues.