What in the Body Positivity Movement Is Harmful to Women?

An overweight female surfer smiling and running for the water with her board while a skinny female surfer watches in the background.

Society's obsession with thinness cannot be solved by going to the opposite extreme. (Image: Kornilovdream via Dreamstime)

There are certain stereotype ideas and concepts about women’s appearance and demeanor prevalent in mainstream society that need to be changed. That is why the body positivity movement started in 2012. There is no denying it has played a role in making life easier for women who have always been judged by their looks and lifestyle by the masses. In the last few years, the portrayal of women on TV and in movies has also changed considerably. Oversized and out-of-shape women are no longer limited to playing funny or one-dimensional roles. You can also spot brands targeting plus-sized women, such as Pink Clove and Vero Moda in retail outlets. 

The body positivity movement started on a good note and it found acceptance from a large number of people coping with social ostracism, prejudice, and bullying. The idea of a community celebrating radical self-acceptance of all physiques and indulging in self-love seemed beautiful. Your worth as a person doesn’t come from your weight.

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The body positivity movement started on a good note and it found acceptance from a large number of people coping with social ostracism, prejudice, and bullying.
It is true that your worth as a person doesn’t come from your weight. (Image: Motortion via Dreamstime)

However, over the years, things about the movement have changed and now the community followers think certain things have gone wrong. While the core concept still remains justifiable and logically acceptable, some developments have raised the eyebrows of community members. Body positivity movement mistruths need to be addressed.

Give the body what it wants

The movement that celebrates being okay with physiques that are apparently unattractive has gone too far when it encourages people to think anything the body wants has to be good for it. Following this notion to the hilt can actually be harmful from a health perspective. While every woman need not have an hourglass figure with porcelain-like skin, a certain level of health balance has to be maintained. Some positivity movement proponents have come very close to promoting obesity. Health experts have always pointed out that obesity paves the way to numerous health issues and that holds true for oversized people too. So oversized women also need to be aware of their ideal body weight. 

Skip exercise if you don’t feel like doing it

Some proponents of the body positivity movement think that exercising is not necessary as it is meant for toning and shaping your body to fit a certain social perception of acceptance. They also think it is not necessary to adhere to a healthy diet and that you can just eat any food you like as long as your mind is happy. However, they fail to realize things pointed out by findings of obesity and health studies. These studies find links between consuming healthy food and mental wellness. It is true that overly fat people are more susceptible to developing depression. So, for staying happy, focusing on the diet is necessary – even for oversized women.

Two overweight women, smiling and confident, holding weights at the gym.
When we exercise, the brain releases endorphins, substances that make us feel happy. (Image: Paulus Rusyanto via Dreamstime)

Any pressure to get healthy is bad

Some women are more prone to weight gain than others and that can be related to their genetics, but trying to stay in shape is still advisable. Oversized women should also adhere to healthy habits and lifestyles to prevent a worsening of their health metrics. Adhering to an unhealthy lifestyle is not going to help things in the long run.

What’s the solution?

The body positivity movement gets the core concepts right and the followers have nothing to feel bad about by having a physique that differs from the “ideal.” There is no need to tweak attire and lifestyle to please society either. However, for their own wellness and benefit, plus-sized women need to strike a balance between what their minds and bodies want and healthy lifestyle habits.

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