Saturday, March 7, 2015

Body Acceptance: What it's REALLY about

For the past year (or 11 months, if we're getting technical) an article has been sweeping the internet, and probably your facebook feed, about one blogger's "6 Things [She Doesn't] Understand About the Body Acceptance Movement." If you really haven't read it - just google the words I put in quotes and check it out, because I refuse to put a link to that in my blog. If you can't tell yet, I am a big advocate of body acceptance, which should NEVER be retitled as "Fat Acceptance," because, despite what the haters want you to believe, it's NOT about fat! I am a moderator of a few plus sized forums on Reddit. I write this blog. It is the ONE "controversial" topic I will comment on on friends' pages.  So, and I can't believe I'm doing this, here I am in all my plus sized glory, in a BIKINI, and I was SO excited to put it on for the first time.

Instead of directly replying to the previously mentioned blog post, I am going to write a post about the TRUTH of the body acceptance movement for someone who actually has experienced the benefits of it. Because I used to hate myself because of my body. I let my appearance dictate my happiness, and that is wrong.

SO LET'S START: Body acceptance is NOT a physical health movement. It is, in no way, Healthy At Every Size (HAES) or saying that everyone in the world is healthy. Body acceptance is a MENTAL health movement! Let's face it, our waist lines are growing due to various reasons, which, honestly, I'm not sure anyone is 100% sure about. Because, let's be honest, there's a new fad diet being introduced every other day about a new food that will make you lose weight and the number one food that makes you gain weight. There are diets that let you eat as much fatty bacon as you want as long as you avoid carbs. There are diets that say you should avoid ALL SUGARS, including those found in fruits. There is probably a diet that says a stick of butter a day is fine as long as you don't eat any meat. I don't know - I'm not a dietician.

Body Acceptance is about happiness! Body Acceptance is the ability to look in the mirror and say "this is what I look like right now, and that's ok." Body Acceptance is the ability to be well over 200 pounds in weight and feel comfortable enough to wear a bikini or a dress or whatever you feel comfortable in! Body Acceptance is a step AWAY from the concept that your appearance, whether it be your waistline or your overly bushy eyebrows or your imperfect nose or that awkward birth mark, does NOT dictate your happiness for life. Body Acceptance is the realization that everyone can be beautiful to someone, and if I'm not you're type of beauty, then THAT'S OK!

The fact of the matter is, people try to say that the Body Acceptance Movement (we should call it BAM! - doesn't that sound exciting?) is an excuse for being unhealthy. IT IS NOT. I would like to say right here and right now that health is NO ONE'S business except yours and your doctor's! Got it? It's not your right to go to Joe Schmoe on the street and discuss how his weight or appearance means he's unhealthy. The same way you shouldn't verbally abuse a stranger smoking a cigarette on the street because it's unhealthy. The same way you can't tell a college student on his 21st birthday the dangers of drinking in the long term. It's NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!

You can be a member of Body Acceptance and be trying to lose weight! That's totally fine! Basically, that person is saying "I love how I look now, and if I do this, I may look different, but I'll love that just as much!" Body Acceptance is a way of saying that we shouldn't dictate our lives around appearance, we should dictate them around health. If your doctor *who you chose and you trust, not just any doctor* says that you need to change something, then "Sorry, I am a Body Acceptance Advocate" is not the correct answer. Because, just because your doctor tells you to lower your carb or sodium intake doesn't even guarantee that you'll lose weight.

Fun story: Cholesterol, Heart Problems, even Diabetes? They don't discriminate based on weight. I am very close with people who are very thin but have high blood pressure or diabetes or high cholesterol. And when they made the changes to fix these, their blood pressure or cholesterol levels went down, not their waist lines!

Body Acceptance is about being able to go out into the world with a smile on your face, even if you didn't get a chance to do your make up today or your hair isn't cooperating! It's about SO MUCH MORE than the size of your body. It's about the fact that I have man wrists. My wrists have no fat on them but they're so big that I have to wear male watches because the petite female versions just don't work. AND IT'S OK! It's the fact that a young lady is balding and you can see parts of her scalp, but SHE'S STILL BEAUTIFUL! It's the fact that this teenage boy cannot bulk up for the life of him, but remains skinny and "scrawny", AND IT'S OK!!! And yeah, it is about that plus sized girl who cries whenever her father tells her that she is too fat for her own good, because SHE CAN STILL BE HAPPY! SHE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!

So please, quit trying to make body acceptance into something it's not. It is NOT an excuse, fat promoting, skinny shaming, eat whatever you want and sit on the couch all day. It's not even saying "oh, you're not fat" to your plus sized friend. NEWS FLASH: I know I'm fat and I am fine with it. It's just not. It IS about happiness despite what cards you were dealt in the physical department. And remember, if you've never been overweight, or underweight, then you can't judge.  The struggles of weight loss or weight gain are REAL and still very misunderstood. You never know the story behind someone. Just because a person is still over 200 pounds doesn't mean they haven't already lost 50. Just because a person is thin doesn't mean they're anorexic! And shaming someone one way or the other does NOT encourage them to change, it will probably make them worse actually.

Body Acceptance is about only one thing. Remembering that we are ALL people and that we all have a history and no one knows the complete history of anyone else. Not even my mom knows my whole history! If you aren't someone's doctor, then it's not your place to comment. Ever. Period. Just go back to kindergarten and the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Make your world one of happiness, and spread it into the lives of others. Because, while you can change your body, you CAN'T change who you are or how people perceive you, and a bitch is still a bitch, no matter how pretty (or ugly) she may be.


  1. Cassie,

    This. Is. Perfect! You have completely hit the nail on the head!! BAM!!!


  2. Thank you for posting this! And by the way you look fabulous in your bikini :) I love it!!

    I struggle sometimes with expressing these ideas without being inundated with the whole "but what about health?" (to which i like to say "mental health is health too" haha), but you've explained many important points here. I'm sure a lot of people relate to this very much, feeling like if we don't meet some standard of beauty, we cannot have a happy life. People sit around waiting for their lives to start once they look a certain way. And funnily enough, I've seen people who when they achieve whatever look they think they should have, spend crazy amounts of time and energy trying to maintain it and are still neurotic about their appearance. So while everybody should do whatever is right and healthy for them, a physical change doesn't necessarily fix the insecurity and obsession. That's often something mental that comes from somewhere else.

    It's funny, I saw this post of yours on reddit shortly after I posted a comic about "bikini bodies" and this blog post, complete with picture, is about the same thing so I had to comment. I also had an older comic titled - the one about "incredible self restraint" - which is my playful take on exactly this sort of thing, people butting in and telling you what to eat. and i had a pretty interesting reaction/discussion about it, i won't bore you with the details but basically some people just don't get that it's simply rude for them to make unsolicited comments about what somebody else is eating.
    (i don't want to muddy your blog with links but i'm sure you can find it should you choose to look for it.)

    For that matter, i love to run - i go pretty much every day - and this has not actually made me thin, though i'm sure it makes me healthier, and IT FEELS GOOD. If I were doing it to lose weight, i would probably get discouraged and give up. Many people do. But because I am happy with my body and am running because it feels good and is good for me mentally and physically, i keep doing it. So it's a win all around :)

    1. You are ALWAYS welcome to link to your own blog on my page! We need to band together! But yes, I end up deleting comments that are unhelpful - for example the comment that said I am "disgusting to look at". While people are allowed their opinions, I'm alloweed to press that little delete button :).

      I enjoy walking, and running, and playing fun sports, and not to lose weight. I could also eat salad every day, instead of just when I want to, in order to lose weight. And I would HATE IT. When did physical appearance outweigh happiness?

  3. Damn it you're awesome!