As many of you have noticed, the body positive movement is growing and gathering numbers and support rapidly. Many of you are not happy about it. Not long ago, fashion blogger Courtney Mina conducted a social media experiment. She posted lingerie clad selfies every day for a few weeks to see what the reactions would be. It went internationally viral. And it helped and inspired countless numbers of men and women to stop hiding themselves away from the world. It also generated a lot of hateful comments. In an open letter written to the haters, Mina says the campaign "touched and inspired thousands of fellow plus-size humans around the world. But there are still many of you who believe that all of this strength, all of this confidence, and all of this self-love being celebrated by my fellow fatties and myself is a wrong and “down-right disgusting” revelation. And that needs to be addressed immediately." And address it she does! She has seen this as an opportunity to educate. She reminds us that we really don't know anything about these strangers we are so openly discussing as if they are not actual people with feelings. Mina says:
Not an entirely unfounded point. She goes on:How do you know that the person you’re shaming hasn’t just lost 50 pounds and is in the middle of a very healthy weight loss journey? How do you know that that person you’re shaming doesn’t have a disorder of some kind that makes losing weight profoundly difficult (like a metabolic disorder, lipedema, or PCOS, for example)? How do you know that the person you’re shaming isn’t profoundly happy with their body? And side note: What if you knew that a thin person had diabetes. Would you then shame them for showing off their “unhealthy” body?
Even if someone is “unhealthy” by all of medicine’s terms, that does not give you the right to torment them. Listen: When a fat person posts a photo of themselves in a bikini, lingerie, or anything else a thin person might share, they are not trying to tell everyone, “Go forth, eat terribly, and stop exercising everyone!” No. Just like all those people having a drink, smoking a cigarette, or indulging in less-than-healthy food aren’t saying that, either. What we are saying, however, is that we deserve the same equality. We deserve to still be confident, love ourselves, wear a bikini or sexy lingerie, just like everyone else. ... Personal health is everyone’s own personal business, and it’s no longer a reason to feel (or dish out) shame. Not to mention, “personal health” doesn’t just include physical health, but also mental and emotional health as well. When someone feels confidence and full of self love, this strengthens their mental and emotional health, and they are much more likely to want to take care of themselves in general (including physically). Most of us, thin, fat or in-between, are constantly trying to work on our own health, happiness, and well-being. We may come in all shapes and sizes, but we are equals. ... We are not looking to promote an unhealthy lifestyle, but healthy well-being that starts with body love, self acceptance, and confidence. What we are doing is a good thing, you guys. So the next time you feel the need to shame, bully, or harass a fat person for just doing what all you other “normal” people do, be an intelligent, educated, decent human — and don’t. There’s a great community of people of all sizes who are waiting for you to join us, as we all celebrate life, diversity, uniqueness, health, happiness, and well-being for all.Lots to think about. The letter can be read in its entirety here and if you have the time, it is worth a look. It is so easy to say things and make judgments about people and their behaviours when they are not sitting directly across from us. And most of us that have made less than encouraging comments on such posts are not really trolls or horrible people. And most wouldn't say the same thing to someone face to face. So, why say it online? And Mina is right that personal health must include mental and emotional health. Who are we to judge someone else's journey?