There is a common belief that being body positive means loving your body no matter what it looks like. What is body positivity for you, Scott?
It’s a very important and very confusing area.
Certainly, without question, it’s so important for all of us to feel comfortable in our body and to love it no matter what our size, no matter what our weight is. Our body is a part of us, it gives us an opportunity to live our lives and interact with our families and so forth. And that is very important and that is something that also frequently requires some work.
Unfortunately, in our society there is so much shaming and stigma around carrying excess weight and around obesity. Many people are falling to hating their bodies.
The body positivity is very important. The problem I think is as a dichotomy - a black and white: either you manage your weight and it doesn’t matter what you think about your body as the weight is the only thing that matters. That is what some people say.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people saying the weight doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is feeling good in your body and feeling body positivity, by losing weight or by focusing on the weight you will hate your body.
In reality, there is little ground that we can aim for: we should manage our physical health and our weight but in a way that does not lead to feeling bad about our bodies and hating our bodies. And that doesn’t lead to buying into societal stigma around obesity.
And that, I believe, should be the aim for those people who are trying to manage their health and their weight. And especially for health care providers who want to help the patients. It’s important for them to appreciate those two things that we have to find a common ground on.
What is the relation between body positivity and weight management? Are weight and health – synonyms?
They are not synonyms, but they are frequently related and many times closely related. On average, as people gain weight, they also start to have health problems. And similarly, on average, when people lose weight in a healthy way, their health tends to improve.
But there are some people who don’t fit into those averages. There are certainly some people that carry many excess pounds and fit into the obesity category. However, they are quite healthy.
They exercise and eat healthy and they have good cholesterol and their blood sugar is very good. They are fit and active in their life, feel good about themselves, even though they have more weight than what is considered normal. And that’s ok.
For those people being healthy and living a life that they enjoy has nothing to do with carrying some extra pounds. But in most people, most of the time the excess weight is associated with other health problems that come with it.
There is an important relation between the weight and the health that needs to be considered.
If you're planning a family, check out how extra pounds may impact your baby's health.