Point/Counterpoint: Can body positivity go too far?


 Point: Body positivity can encourage obesity

In a world in which women, and men for that matter, are grossly oversexualized by society, the body-positive movement was created to make people feel comfortable in their own skin and happy with their bodies.

We live in a very progressive world today, one that is more accepting than ever before. And while that is amazing, I believe there must be a line drawn between accepting people for who they are and allowing people to fall into bad habits and addiction.

I understand that in this instance, I have chosen the extremely controversial opinion, but no one can deny that America has an obesity problem. According to 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adult Americans are overweight, with Iowa’s population being 30 percent to 35 percent obese. I do not wish to body-shame anyone, but we cannot ignore that obesity can lead to major and sometimes fatal health problems.

I fear that some people use the body-positivity movement as a crutch to pick up unhealthy eating habits and then use the stance as a defense when people try to acknowledge their unhealthy lifestyle.

While I do believe all people are beautiful in their own way, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy. As a man who has a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart attacks, I understand the dangers that can come from not being health conscious.

And this doesn’t mean just being overweight, either; health problems can also come from being underweight as well. I am not saying that people should not be ashamed of their bodies or everyone should have the same body type; rather, I think that individuals should pay attention to health and not use body positivity as an excuse.

  Wylliam Smith

RELATED: Iowa among leaders in obesity

Counterpoint: Blaming Body Positivity for obesity is dishonest

The Body Positive Movement was founded by two women in 1996. The nonprofit organization supports fat activism, which aims to change the way society views fat people and fat because of the detriments body-shaming brings. Some of these include discrimination, social stigma, the extreme diet industry, and eating disorders.

Wyl brings up a common talking point surrounding body positivity: It can go too far, and fat acceptance encourages unhealthy behavior. I want to be clear that the seriousness of the American obesity epidemic should not be overshadowed. That being said, a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Obesity found that when people are told they are overweight, they are actually more at risk of gaining weight than people who aren’t.

Whether the Body Positivity Movement has caused an uptick in obesity has not been thoroughly studied, although establishing causation from the effects of a shifting cultural attitude seems to be an unlikely feat. But the findings of 19 separate studies are clear — the negative, fearmongering connotation we give fatness only exacerbates ill health. So maybe, just maybe, removing some of the demonization of fatness from our cultural vernacular by promoting body positivity isn’t such a bad idea — especially when no research has yet indicated otherwise.

I, like those in the Body Positivity Movement, believe health is a central pillar to overall wellness. Promoting binge eating is not in line with that belief and should be treated as the disorder that it is.

To zero in on this small population of people rather than analyze a society that enables unhealthy behavior is disingenuous. Instead of blaming the Body Positivity Movement for obesity, let’s talk about food deserts, inadequate education, and body-shaming — issues that actually have empirical data supporting their harmfulness.

  Isabella Rosario

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