In this age where beauty standards have diversified, people are no longer pressured to maintain a certain size, skin color, hair type, etc. The body positivity movement has empowered countless individuals to see themselves as beautiful, no matter their weight. It campaigns against body-shaming, which is a culture of degrading people, especially women, for being bigger.
However, controversies surround this movement, arguing that it tolerates obesity and encourages unhealthy eating habits. As a counterargument, supporters of the movement claim that one doesn’t have to be a certain size to be healthy. In addition, they reiterate that they don’t tolerate obesity, but rather inspire plus-sized individuals to be more confident and to take care of their health better.
Which is the truth, then? How do we know if our size is still healthy? And is the body positivity movement doing more harm than good?
Ideal Weight for Women
The average American female aged 20 and up weighs 170.6 lbs. and stands at 5 feet and 4 inches tall. Their average waist circumference measures 38.6 inches.
The weight and waistline figures are clearly far from the “standards” or what’s “ideal.” Most of us grew up knowing that a 24-inch waistline is what’s deemed as beautiful. Fitness experts and enthusiasts may also promote maintaining a certain weight to stay in shape. So what’s at stake if we deviate from the standards?
It turns out that weight and waist circumference don’t actually measure health. Rather, it’s the Body Mass Index (BMI), and that is where health experts are concerned.
In the U.S., the average BMI of a woman is 29.6, which is considered overweight. And out of all American adults, over two-thirds (73.9%) are considered overweight and obese, which causes an alarm among health experts.
Below are the categories per range of BMI:
- Below 18.5 – Underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9 – Healthy
- 25.0 – 29.9 – Overweight
- Above 30.0 – Obese
Aside from weight, BMI is also determined by other factors, such as age, muscle mass, and frame size. Hence, finding out your BMI may not be an accurate method to define your ideal weight.
Effects of Being Overweight and Obese
Overweight and obese people have higher risks of developing a number of serious diseases, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder ailments
- Sleep problems
- Mental health issues
- Difficulty with physical functioning
Thankfully, modern medicine has enabled these diseases to be diagnosed early on, and thus treated immediately. In well-developed areas, people can refer themselves for a quick private ultrasound scan, a painless process where abnormalities in different parts of the body are detected. This prevents the progression of potentially serious diseases, saving many lives.
Being Body Positive While Improving Your Health
Instead of seeing your weight as wrong, target the unhealthy habits, and strive to change those. Take baby steps as you shift to a healthier diet. You don’t have to impose strict rules upon yourself on what you should eat and avoid. As long as you focus on the great results waiting, you’ll slowly learn how to eat clean. Also, see exercise as a celebration for what your body can do, not as a punishment.
If you drink a lot of alcohol, quitting it will be life-changer. Again, do so with baby steps, or with professional help if necessary. Sobriety takes off anxiety and lets you rediscover your enthusiasm about life.
Forget about weighing yourself every day and comparing yourself to skinner women. Remember that this is your journey, so your progress and results are going to be different from theirs.
Whatever size you turn into, remember that it’s what’s inside that truly matters. Body positivity is good, but only if you’re loving your body, and not abusing it.