Is Body Positivity Making Obesity the Norm?

I’ve recently seen an increase in the number of social media posts about body positivity.

Women and men of all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages etc, sharing images of themselves with captions about body positivity.

Whilst I think this is great in some aspects, other aspects make me wonder if what this movement is actually doing is normalising obesity?

I’m all for loving your body the way it is, and I’m no stranger to being overweight. I’ve lost two stone, taken up running, am more aware of what I eat and I’m now considered a healthy weight for my body shape, age and height, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Some days, I’d look in the mirror and hate what stares back at me. Other days, I’d think to myself, you don’t look too bad, just learn to love yourself and don’t worry about what others see when they look at you.

Yes, I think it’s great that we love ourselves and are confident about the way we look, but surely if you’re overweight and unhealthy, sharing an image of yourself with captions about body positivity is just normalising obesity, or perhaps it’s a guise to hide behind?

If I keep telling myself it’s ok to be overweight, and that I don’t look bad, then it’s ok. After all, we’re all different which is great. I just need to learn to love myself the way I am, even I am obese.

I know it’s hard to loose weight, trust me, and it’s just as hard to maintain a weight loss, but images of men and women who are overweight promoting body positivity is something I struggle with.

With obesity comes a number of health problems and that only gets worse the older you get. When you’re elderly, overweight and can’t get out of a chair without getting out of breath, will you look back at those pictures and still think you look good, or will you look back at them and wish you’d made an effort to lose weight, and be healthy?

27 thoughts on “Is Body Positivity Making Obesity the Norm?

  1. I think by not appreciating the beauty of the human form, no matter what you perceive it to be, you overlook its beauty.
    By perceiving people to be obese in their physical form, you neglect to appreciate them in their entire form.
    Mental health is equal to, if not more important, than physical health.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Obesity is a fact, it’s not about ‘perceiving’ someone to be obese. If they’re obese, it’s pretty obvious. I’m a huge advocate for mental health, and as the saying goes, healthy body, healthy mind

  2. I must admit, I agree with you. Being overweight or obese is not something that should be normalised in my opinion. I’m all for loving ourselves etc, but surely loving yourself in the best way is to feed your body and mind with nutritional food and find happiness in the endorphins created by physical activity?

  3. I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a long time, but have been too scared of the backlash! Well done to you for saying it. I do think it’s great that so many people are happy and confident whatever their shape and size, but obesity is sadly still a massive health risk and I do fear that it has become normalised, which is a massive ticking health time bomb for society.

  4. Agreed. I think we should focus on identifying the reasons why so many people are struggling with their weight/health as a society. We are not meant to be dramatically overweight and I could sit here and preach all day about being happy with my body. I could shout to the world about body positivity, but at the end of the day, deep down, I am NOT happy with my body because I know it isn’t healthy. I think that is more common a sentiment than the latter.


  5. Yip there is such a fine line. I am currently really struggling with my weight thanks to meds I was on. While I am pretty healthy I am still overweight and it is not ideal. Our bodies are all different and some people just aren’t built to be thin but I hear what you are saying and don’t disagree.

  6. Obviously everyone wants to be healthy. There is a plethora of reasons why some people are not able to attain, or sustain, a healthy weight. It is their battle to fight with as much or as little input from us as they see fit. The thing is, it’s not anyone’s business how obese someone is, or is not. I think it’s more important that we learn to see people for who they are rather than the bodies they are in and let them fight their demons on their own terms. #ThatFridayLinky

  7. I’m not a judgmental person but I can see where you are coming from. People make choices and have to live with those choices, and the effects this has on the people around them. You could say the same about smoking. People choose to do that, it’s hard work to stop and if you keep doing it it will kill you in the end.

  8. Great thought provoking piece Emily. I can see why it’s caused some debate on here already, but for me you’re highlighting something really important to think about.

    I’m all for more self confidence, and body positive is part of that overarching theme, but if it becomes an excuse rather than a mission then that’s when it’s going astray. #thatlinkyfriday

  9. I pray that this is not the case, but I wonder . . .
    In my case, the only way to really fight the tendency is to fight it personally, for my own health and mobility’s sake.
    Blessings to you!

  10. This is a very interesting take. We need to be comfy in our own skin yet we also need to be healthy. I hate to say it but there is a healthy weight. Anything beyond that is not good. #thatfridaylinky

  11. I definately think some people on instagram are using it more of a tool to influence IMO. But each to the own, I think ad long as you are happy then it is your life to-do as you please X #thatfridaylinky

  12. I think there needs to be some reality – obese has an official description after all. However, it is an area that needs a careful approach and a bad body image can cause so much damage to mental health. That is all the more reason to help someone get healthy and fit, sure, but the way it is dealt with is important xx

  13. Good post. Yes for a healthy outlook on life we need to admit that we are overweight – which I am. Then get on and do something positive to change that situation but during that we do not need to put ourselves down because then we will have the wrong mentality towards it all.

  14. I think the entire belief behind body positivity stems from wanting every single body shape to feel that they are worthwhile human beings. Every person has to make their own decisions in life and many choose being overweight or are fine with being overweight. I myself am overweight. I have muscular dystrophy and when my previous doctors told me that losing weight would extend my life, I merely asked how long I have to live to be considered acceptable to them. I think that’s the big difference between groups of people. I’m cool with dying in my 50s after having a love affair with cake. It’s all about how you want to live your life. My current doctor understands that I like my weight where it is – I’m relatively healthy in regards to not needing any medications or interventions to maintain my health and I can do all the activities I love. I may die 10 years before my peers, but I’m ok with that. I’m not okay with continually exercising and eating to live to someone else’s ideal age. #GlobalBlogging

  15. Well done of the weight lose. I totally agree with you. If I was too look at my body and love it it would make me want to lose weight and although I don’t look it because I’m only 5ft I am classed as overweight.

  16. I’m all for body positivity but also for being healthy. As a society, we are all definately getting bigger and I agree with you that being obese is not being healthy but we also have to project different body types as healthy. I always felt ‘large’ in the 80’s and 90’s but am glad my daughter is a teenager in the time when being curvy is celebrated. I am a strong woman who is a size 16. I can walk 10 miles without a pause but could not run a mile without collapsing. That is because I am an endomorph body type. Let’s celebrate all healthy body shapes and not fat or thin shame people. Great post for a good think though!

  17. Interesting post, and honestly a bit brave. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of negative feedback but you do have a very valid point. I think that people shouldn’t worry about how they look, for whatever reason, but should worry about their health. I think there is a big difference between looking in the mirror and wanting to be less heavy because you are unhappy with your appearance and wanting to be healthier. It might be a thin line but I think its an important one. #thatfridaylinky

  18. Though I do believe we need to be positive about ourselves completely, I agree with you. I am one of those that are older and overweight. Though it does not define me totally, it limits me greatly. Though we have tried diets through the years it has not been a main focus and should have been at some point. We can be positive about many things, but we can also close our eyes to the obvious. Why shouldn’t we be concerned about the way we look? Should we obsess over it? No. Honestly, that is the first thing someone sees when they meet us. And frankly we all have an opinion when we see someone. We can act like it doesn’t exist, but it does. If you see me, you notice if I have a pretty smile or no teeth, brushed hair or a tangled mess, pressed clothes or a wrinkled clothes. It’s not judgmental it’s observation. Our opinions form from our observations. I don’t believe being realistic about our weight should cause us to spiral into oblivion mentally. It is what it is. Change it or stay the way you are. You decide. From one of the oldies, love yourself enough to make losing the weight a priority so you can enjoy the fruit of your labor when you are older and not WISH you had done something different. Be positive enough about yourself and your situation to take control and make a difference….. for you and your future.

  19. Tricky issue so well done for your bravery in raising it so openly and for sharing your journey too. I think at core I believe that if we brought up our children to accept themselves and to have positive ways of dealing with troubling emotions rather than comfort eating, most obesity would not exist at all #ThatFridayLinky

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