Skinny Doesn’t Equal Healthy. And Unhealthy Doesn’t Equal Ugly.

I often hear people get antsy when larger people start loving their bodies. “But aren’t we glorifying obesity? Aren’t we encouraging people to be unhealthy?” But here are some of the problems with this mentality:

geri-halliwell-musician-quote-some-people-are-naturally-thin-and-some1.Skinny doesn’t mean healthy. Some thin people just have a fast metabolism, but they don’t work out and eat only junk food. I’ve seen some very thin people who are much less healthy than some larger people I know. Plus, anorexia and other eating disorders are major problems that cause people to be thin. Stress can also cause people to drop a lot of weight, but in a very unhealthy way. My point: You can’t really tell how healthy someone is just based on their size. Extreme obesity is a tougher area, since being so large that they cannot move obviously prevents them from being able to exercise, but even then we’re really in no place to judge.

“Active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary … the health risks of obesity are largely controlled if a person is physically active and physically fit.”
-The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 2000 

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At a size 14-16 I am considered a bit overweight, but I can also bike 10 miles in a day. I’m sore as hell and exhausted afterwards because there’s lots of hills on the route I take and I don’t do it often enough, but I can do it. How many people do you know that can (or are willing to) bike 10 miles? I may not be a fitness enthusiast, and yes I could stand to be active more often, but I’m certainly not a couch potato either.

2. Who defines healthy? It’s such a vague category. What if you have a severe medical condition but you eat veggies and exercise, are you still healthy despite your condition? And what if you have no medical conditions, your body works just fine and you are active, but you eat mostly junk food? What defines a healthy individual, what makes one person healthy and the other person unhealthy? It’s based on the individual. What’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another.

a7bf19cc-9da6-4f3b-bb8b-db1d4b5967d83. Even unhealthy people need to love their bodies. If you’re unhealthy- so what? It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to love your body as it is! People smoke and drink too much or they use unhealthy crash diets to lose weight, and we don’t shame them like we do larger people. People who exercise or do sports so much that they regularly injure themselves are not really taking care of their bodies either, but we don’t see athletes and fitness enthusiasts being shamed for overdoing it all the time. Also, what about people with medical conditions or disabilities? They may not be very healthy, but they can’t really help it. Are they ugly, should we police their bodies and tell them they can’t love themselves too?

Bottom line: Unless it’s an extreme situation, it’s none of our business if someone is “healthy” or not. And we certainly have no right to tell them that they cannot love their bodies. 

If you’re very concerned about your family member or close friend, make sure you address it in a respectful manner, and only if you’re concerned that they are going to cause themselves significant harm. Otherwise, why intrude on their personal lifestyle choices? We all do some unhealthy things; it doesn’t mean it’s ok for other people to judge us for them. There’s a fine line between looking out for the well-being of your loved ones and making unnecessary judgments on their personal choices. You may think soda is liquid poison, but that doesn’t mean you should rail on your friend who loves her Pepsi. And we all know “that person” that gives you a withering look anytime they see you eating processed sugars or carbs. (Really?) However, if your loved one is a raging alcoholic and they’re destroying their life because of it, then that would be an extreme situation and you should probably say something and offer to help. If your loved one has an eating disorder, obviously that’s also an extreme situation that needs immediate attention. But see the difference? Life threatening and severe health risk behavior vs. “I don’t think you should be eating that doughnut because it’ll make you fat!” 

4. Eating junk food doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy. “She eats chocolate and drinks soda, she must be sooo unhealthy!” Sure, if you come to my house at certain times of the week, you’d think I binge on junk food all the time- because sometimes I certainly do! Especially during Netflix marathons. 😉 But what you don’t see are the super healthy fruit and kale and protein powder smoothies I try to have every morning, which are packed with nutrients and protein. You don’t see me adding extra veggies and fresh meat to boxed meals when I’m in too much of a hurry to make homemade, or the countless homemade healthy meals I prepare in my slow cooker. You don’t see my entire eating routine, so it’s easy to judge me based on the few things you do see. Bottom line: Don’t assume someone doesn’t eat healthy just because you see them eating a burger or some junk food. It’s the whole picture of their diet that’s important. (And it’s not your place to judge anyways!)

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We all deserve to love our bodies.

Thin people are allowed to love their bodies whether they are healthy or not. Their bodies are praised as beautiful on glossy magazine covers even if the model has an eating disorder or starves herself to fit into her clothes. Health is obviously not a concern in many cases where skinny bodies are glorified. So why can’t larger people love themselves as they are too? The double standard is frustrating and unfair. We have to stop making it our business to judge other people’s bodies, and stop making them feel like they can’t love themselves just as they are. We don’t live in their bodies; they do. And you don’t live in my body. I cherish my body; I take good care of it, even if I don’t fit your narrow idea of what my “healthy body” should look like on the outside.

If your friend or loved one wants to get more active or change their eating habits, then by all means be there for them and support them. I’m not saying that we should not work out or improve our eating habits; improving our health is a wonderful goal that I personally ascribe to. I’m just saying that we need to stop assuming that skinny means healthy, fat means unhealthy, and that unhealthy means we’re not allowed to love ourselves.

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Loving the Body I Have Right Now- Changing the “Temporary Wardrobe” Mindset

gaboureyquoteWhen I was in college at barely 17 years old, I had America’s ideal body type. I was a svelte size 4, long blonde hair, blue eyes- everybody envied my body. But over the past decade my body has changed. My full adult figure developed, as well as a few extra pounds. Those “extra” pounds resulted in my being a size 14-16 (depending on the store). For years now I’ve been in a state of “temporary” clothing choices: I’ve intended to slim down, but it just hasn’t happened. I haven’t really cared about pounds or specific dress sizes, I just knew I wanted to be LESS. I’m not inactive, I biked 10 miles the other day, but I have a hard time sticking to a rigorous exercise routine. I eat decently well, but I haven’t been able to make myself stick to a strict eating routine (and I’m not sure I even want to anymore; I’d rather eat moderately well and enjoy my favorite foods!)

53a1050e10a6d_-_cos-04-jennifer-lawrence-body-quotes-deI’ve avoided buying anything expensive in my current size because what if I lose weight and then it’s wasted? I have always viewed my current body size as temporary. But it isn’t temporary, or at least I can’t view it that way anymore. My clothes don’t fit the way they should, I buy the cheapest stuff I can find because it’s just to “tide me over until I get to my long term size”, and so on. But I’ve been this size for years now- and I’m tired of living in limbo. Of course financial limitations have been an issue in my wardrobe choices too, but I could have bought some nicer things on more than one occasion. I just didn’t want to spend the money on them if I was going to change sizes soon anyways.

I no longer care if I lose weight down the road. I want to feel and look good in the size I am right NOW. And you know what? I look pretty damn good. I have lots of curves and my body shape is nothing to sneer at. And I don’t need to lose weight for health reasons since my health is just fine. So why do I rarely feel comfortable in my own skin? Residual body image issues are part of it, but more than anything I hate how my clothes look on me. They aren’t flattering, they aren’t comfortable, and I don’t feel like most of them represent my current fashion interests. I have a pile of jeans and not a single pair fits me like they should. I’ve had chronic acid reflux all my life, which is exacerbated by my jeans that are too tight in the waist. So how can I expect to feel sexy and confident when my wardrobe is “temporary ill-fitting chaos”?

I’ve also never seriously shopped in a plus size store. But I’m a very curvy woman, and many clothes designed for thinner people just don’t fit my body shape very well, even if they come in my size. And since even a size 12 is considered plus size these days, I really need to start shopping at stores that carry clothing specifically designed to flatter my particular body type. This is a mental barrier that I had never really addressed before. Why have I never sought out these stores? Because in my mind, I still see myself as a size 4-6 teenager like I was in college. I still see my current size as temporary even though it obviously is not.

So I’m going to start revamping my wardrobe. I’ll choose pieces that actually fit me just as I am, and I’ll stop trying to make my curvaceous body work in clothes that were not designed to flatter figures like mine. I’ll stop settling for “it’s ok, I can make it sort of fit” and go to a shop that can sell me something that actually fits me right the first time. I may also look into tailoring, it’s not very expensive (and I might be able to do it myself) and it can make a so-so garment fit incredibly well. From what I’ve been reading, tailoring is the best friend of curvier ladies since our body shapes are so diverse.

LoveYourBodyPoster2_800It’s ok to not be a size 6, or whatever size you’d like to be. You don’t have to always feel like you’re in limbo waiting for your size to get smaller before it’s acceptable to buy yourself clothes you actually like and that fit you well. I’m learning to love my body just as it is- to not wait until I’m smaller to treat my body right, but to start doing it right now. And I’m really excited!

This doesn’t mean I don’t still strive to improve my health whenever I can. I’m always interested in improving my health in ways that I can realistically manage while still enjoying life. But I’m learning that my health and my size are not necessarily connected, and that’s ok. It’s time to start loving the body I have- because it’s a pretty amazing body and I’m tired of viewing my differences as “flaws”.

Curvy is beautiful too. 🙂

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