For as long as body positivity has been around, there has been a counter-cry of "activists" claiming the movement glamorizes poor health. Regardless of the myriad examples of women who defy that stereotype (think yoga star Jessamyn Stanley or teen ballerina Lizzy Howell), we're still told that if you celebrate your body and others' bodies, you must be promoting obesity.
And that's simply not true.
In an essay for The Odyssey, writer Vianka Cotton dissected the link between obesity and body positivity, at first praising the movement for giving us figures like Ashley Graham, then condemning it for "promoting a sedentary lifestyle."
Cotton further emphasizes her point:
"Normalizing obesity is a problem! Are advocates of this movement in denial? Are they too focused on peoples [sic] opinions? The message we are sending to young women and girls are [sic] radical. The pressure to be thin has been replaced with it is okay to be obese. Neither one is correct. When can healthy be sexy? When will we normalize health?"
The thing is, we do normalize health, otherwise #fitspo wouldn't exist. I can't scroll through my Instagram without seeing green juices, browse my Snap stories without seeing a celebrity gym selfie, or peruse Pinterest without being bombarded by new workout ideas or tips on how to burn the most fat possible in the shortest amount of time. Health is normalized in the ads we see for weight loss supplements or in the way there's a new cleanse being released seemingly every other day.
Healthy has been "sexy" and "normal" since we started equating being skinny with being healthy.
On the flip side, body confidence is often placed in the same bucket as obesity. Cotton quoted Tess Holliday in her essay, claiming the size-22 model has said in the past that she preaches self-love over health. Cotton disagreed:
"Shouldnt [sic] self-love correlate to health? Where is the line between body confidence and obesity? Media plays a power influence in acceptance, normalizing obesity, when in fact obesity is a disease as well as an epidemic."
Self-love and health, just like body confidence and obesity, do not correlate. Loving yourself does not mean actively avoiding working out, eating fast food, or living the "sedentary lifestyle" Cotton described.
Body confidence goes hand-in-hand with allowing yourself to make choices, be it working out (or not), eating healthy (or not), or wearing whatever you damn please. Self-love and body confidence promote the idea that women are allowed to make a choice with how they choose to view their bodies.
While Cotton does acknowledge that weight and health don't always go hand in hand ("skinny people can be unhealthy, but their risk is dramatically lower"), she doesn't acknowledge that various diseases typically associated with obesity can also impact people who don't fall in that demographic.
According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who fall in the normal BMI range with some weight around their middle have a higher mortality rate than those in the overweight or obese category with a more even body-fat distribution. Same goes with issues like diabetes, which can affect people regardless of size.
In short, concern-trolling because your definition of body positivity fits a narrow, straight-size mold is not cool. Do better.