I recently met a friend for coffee, and before I took one sip of my latte, she said, “I’ve been ignoring my obesity and calling it body positivity?”
I am her skinny friend who wears a size two. She lovingly gives me the eye roll whenever I bring my signature healthy recipes to our Bible study luncheons. Despite our different views on health (and many other topics), we’ve been friends for decades.
Dumbstruck by her revelation, we sat in silence, but in my head, I am anything but silent. I am cheering.
My kind and smart yet unhealthy friend made the correlation between weight and health. And that is not fat-shaming.
We have to strike the right balance by promoting health and accepting body size.
Body Positivity Gone Wrong
A few days ago, she went to see her doctor about a suspected spider bite on her forearm.
After running some routine tests, her physician delivered some difficult news. At 38, my friend suffered from Type 2 Diabetes. She sternly advised that if my friend did not make changes to her lifestyle, she would die in about a decade.
Halfway through my latte, I realize why she called me. I may not know what it is like to be a plus-size woman in America, but I know all too well what it is like to be chronically ill.
My friend’s misaligned allegiance to the body positivity movement perpetuated an unhealthy lifestyle that left her with a chronic illness.
The wrong approach to body positivity can stand in the way of making crucial changes in lifestyle habits and food choices.
How to balance body positivity
Keeping the right focus
Writer and mother of daughters, Jen Wilkin, reminds us that “transforming the inside will make peace with the outside.”
The first step is to focus on our spiritual life.
Women are not defined by the numbers on a scale or the size of our jeans. To do so minimizes the masterful creation designed by a loving God.
Your primary goal in life is to be in a relationship with our Creator and find joy in Him. As you pursue that relationship, you will begin to see that your body is a beautiful gift from God that you want to steward well.
Healthy living is a tool used to serve God and others from a place of physical wholeness.
Faith-based counselor Paul David Tripp sums up this idea, “Each of us has been gifted, called, and positioned to do our part in God’s kingdom work.”
And a lifestyle of healthy living is another means to help you pursue your God-given purpose in life. He can help you harness the strength to overcome emotional eating or food apathy.
Accountability to God, not a movement
As we sipped our coffee, my friend concluded that she lost her way in the body positivity movement.
The movement created a space for my friend to feel comfortable with her obesity. She admitted that her version of body positivity led her down a dark path toward body-negligence.
The body positivity movement continues to gain momentum since its inception as part of the “fat acceptance” of the 1960s.
It seems that the movement tends to shame people for wanting to lose weight as a means of getting healthier. After you finish this article, take a look at the backlash that Grammy Award-winning singer Adele received for losing weight.
And so the weight-loss pendulum swings back and forth—the extreme body positivity on one side and an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating on the other.
The way to balance the pendulum is to responsibly and wisely steward your body. It should bring great comfort knowing that you answer to God and not a movement.
Because God created us, we owe him honor and accountability. Our ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God, which includes our health.
Stop shaming health and wellness goals
The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. affects 93.3 million adults and 13.7 million children, indicate the need for health and wellness goals.
Sometimes it is necessary to lose weight, as was the case with my friend. There is nothing wrong with setting and maintaining healthy, safe, and sustainable weight-loss goals.
You can collaborate with a trained health and wellness coach to design an eating and lifestyle plan that suits your body.
We often rely on quick fixes from the weight loss industry. Women face a bewildering array of health and wellness products and plans.
But cultivating a lifestyle of healthy living is not easy. It takes hard work to navigate a new journey. The idea is to create a personal health blueprint that leads to long-term change.
I have four daughters, all of whom have different body types. Over the years, countless discussions about body image ensued when we shopped for clothing or scrolled through social media.
Completing a health goal is commendable, but I want my daughters to know that their body is not an ornament put on display for others. They should want to achieve a health goal, not because it may gain more “likes” and “follows. Instead, achieving a health goal facilitates healthy eating and living.
Also, my prayer for my daughters is that their eating habits and lifestyle choices reflect a personal conviction and not a movement.
Whether you are a size 4 or 14, as women, we want to celebrate the body size that God designed uniquely for each of us. We must nourish and nurture our bodies regardless of the number on the tag of our jeans.
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