The ourage machine of positivity…

Published 12.27.2020: It’s been awhile since I monitored the Body Positive (BoPo) movement— which I tend to call FaBoPo for Fat Body Positive, because only fat bodies are considered perfect in this moveement and require no alteration.

Gaining weight? That body change is to be celebrated? Losing weight? Well, now you’re a self hating slave to the fat hating patriarchy. So Lizzo (who I have heard on the radio a few times) is (or was) a FaBoPo icon, being as she is (or was) a wonderfully talented fat woman, who happens to be black. But apparently her blackness was less important than her fatness— let alone her talent— for a significant number of her online fans.

Anyhoo, during the Covid 19 nightmare, Lizzo has apparently been using the time to exercise and improve her health. Most recently, this included doing some sort of 10 smoothie a day “cleanse”. This being 2020, people have immediate angry reactions of all the feels, those reactions inspired backlashes, and clickbait nirvana was achieved.

I missed the original outrage, and since I can predict what it was because I’ve read too much of the same in the past, I’m not searching for it to link to it. Google it, if you’re truly interested. The two backlash articles linked above I found on Twitter this morning. Not interested in searching for any others, I’m sure they encapsulate the tone.

I’m no fan of cleanses, but I don’t care if you or Lizzo decide to follow one. Most cleanses result in weight loss because they restrict calories— despite how low carb/keto adherents frame it, calories in vs calories out is still the controlling factor. Lizzo isn’t aiming for weight loss, but rather to “heal her digestion.” As someone who has overhauled her diet in response to gastric/digestive distress, I’m throwing no stones, except to note that true change isn’t going to result from a short term effort. And cleanses by their nature are short term.

So Lizzo is doing a cleanse. And the FaBoPo crowd, which happens to be overwhelmingly white, lost its shit. Lizzo to her credit told them to “piss off” (I watched the latest Monty Python documentary on Netflix recently). But in the backlash, those that criticized Lizzo are now being defined as “oppressors,” not because they want Lizzo to be thin, but because they don’t want Lizzo to do anything that might result in a smaller body. How about everybody just let Lizzo do what she wants with her own body? Why isn’t that an option?

Note: I’m dodging the racist aspect of the backlash, because I’m not convinced that the original reaction would have been different if Lizzo was white. I think the issue is that Lizzo is a successful artist who happens to be fat, and she has made decisions for herself that ran afoul of the FaBoPo posse. And I base this on my observations of successful fat white women who decide for whatever reason to decrease their body size (weight).

With that said, let’s get to the meat of my contention. It’s always irritated me that by FaBoPo rules body weight can increase, but never decrease. Indeed, a defining shibboleth of the FaBoPo movement is that weight loss is impossible. The body always returns to its larger size. Never explained is why a fatter body couldn’t return to its smaller (adult) size.

I understand the dangers of fad dieting and eating disorders, I do. The original Health at Every Size (HAES) movement was as a treatment for eating disorders, especially anorexia. But, absent an eating disorder, choosing as an adult to alter the amount of calories that you eat and drink or increase the amount that you move in order to weigh 10-30 pounds lighter is neither impossible, nor is it automatically unhealthy (because again, I understand that eating disorders are real and dangerous).

I lost almost 35 pounds by eating less and moving more. Three and a half years ago I started an offline business (which has survived Covid 19, thanks for asking) and my movement (calories out) part of the energy balance dropped precipitously. The number of calories I eat and drink did not change, and the result is that I have put on 15 lbs over the past 3.5 years. Note, that my body is still smaller than it was 3.5 years ago. This according to FaBoPo adherents is impossible.

Would I like to weigh a bit less, yes I would. My acid reflux returned, and I’m sure its the last 10 pounds I’ve added back that is the issue. I’m in my 50s, and my metabolism is post menopausal. I’ve started lifting weights again for my bones (discussed elsewhere so I won’t further sidetrack this piece). I’ve stopped gaining, weight, but to become a smaller size, I will need to consume fewer calories (difficult, because I like to eat and drinking) or find a way to add more movement. I know there are those who say that weightlifting can lead to weight loss, but I remain unconvinced. That said, it’s entirely possible that without the weight lifting I’d be even heavier.

So am I positive about my body? I’d say yes. No I’m not as thin as I’d like to be, but I’m not as large as my genetics and family history suggest I could be. And I’m healthy, except for the osteoporosis, but we’ll see is the weight training increases my bone mineral density.

Lizzo can choose to lose a bit of weight if that’s what she wants to do. Bodies change size all the time, if bodies getting larger is to be celebrated without question, why isn’t bodies getting smaller afforded the same respect? That thin bodies are still celebrated more than fat bodies is no reason to denigrate the choices of those with larger bodies. However, if you think that losing weight is a method of “self-eradication,” then you can only react with outrage.

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