• Emma Green

Body positivity and health

‘I’m all for body positivity as long as a person is healthy’

I’ve heard this phrase a lot recently and it is hugely problematic. Firstly, you are not really for a social justice movement if it is conditional. You are either in favour of a cause or not. Secondly, the idea that health is a moral obligation is ableist, discriminatory and completely overlooks the social determinants of health. Thirdly, it suggests that health is easy to define. In reality, health is complex, nuanced and subjective. Health should not be held up as a standard that people have to reach in order to be accepted. If health is allowed to define a person’s worth, we are all doomed. Health, however you define it, is not a guarantee and the idea that is things are only okay if you are healthy sets you up for a precarious life. I think it’s also worth noting that when a person is working on improving their relationship with their body, they are actually more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviours than if they feel negatively about their body. Any changes that they do make to their lifestyle are also much more likely to be sustainable because they’re about feeling good, rather than coming from a place of negativity.

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