Sometimes I feel a conflict between my desire to be healthy and active and also being a feminist, are these things mutually exclusive? As a feminist I’m expected to tell everyone their body is beautiful, and while I believe that, my “health conscience”, the part of my brain that reminds me what is healthy and what is not, is always reminding me that many body types and lifestyles are unhealthy. That’s not to say that being overweight is inherently unhealthy, or that being thin is inherently healthy, there is a big grey area here. But what people cannot argue with is that carrying around fat on your belly is at worst bad for you, at best neutral for your health. Am I not a feminist when I remind someone that this excess fat is n=detrimental to their health, is that me body shaming them? Is it really in everyone’s best interest to tell them to love their body at the expense of their health?
I have a friend who has put on some pounds since she had a baby, her boyfriend says he likes the extra weight and encourages her to keep it. She seemed to be struggling with her reaction to this, she thought that him loving her body should make her okay with it too. We have this idea that a man who loves our body when it’s larger is very evolved and that we should thank him for accepting us, in reality we should accept and love ourselves the way we are, but if we don’t like something about ourselves then we should change it. She felt like she should be happy with her body because because he likes it even though it doesn’t fit into the social construct of what her body should look like. While she should appreciate her accepting her the way she is, she doesn’t have to settle for that body just because he likes it. It’s funny how a man liking a woman when she is bigger is evolved and accepting, but when a man is no longer attracted to a woman because she has gained weight and no longer looks how she did during their initial attraction, he’s an asshole.
I was once watching a youtube video by in which she said “if I were 120 pounds eating a pizza in my underwear on tumblr I would be ‘quirky’ and ‘cute’ and ‘real’, but if I’m 300 pounds and I’m eating a pizza in my underwear people are like ‘you’re killing yourself’ ‘you’re disgusting’ ‘you’re everything that’s wrong with America”
As much as my healthy lifestyle is about being a healthier person and not just the number on the scale, I am not immune to the social pressure to have the “perfect body”. I do find myself worrying less about the number on the scale, and more about the person in the mirror, but I don’t know if that is progress because I still pinch the love handles of that person in the mirror. Is it wrong for me to want to be skinny, to have perky breasts and a firm butt? Am I still a feminist even when I want a flat stomach? Is it irresponsible for me to tell a woman to love her body the way it is without encouraging her to take care of it?