LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Former Leader Editor expresses thoughts on "Body Positivity stops at Obesity" column


{To the Editorial Department}

Marielle Decena’s column is almost too rudimentary and simple minded to deserve a response. But I felt it was important for me to weigh in (see what I did there?).

Right off the bat, Decena tells us she has no intention of using the Power of Google. Forever 21 and the like are notoriously horrible at representing anyone who isn’t skinny, cisgender, and white. I am not sure where she decided fat people are glamorized or do not experience oppression?

Her own account of “imperfections” literally list characteristics she shares with fat people. Yet somehow this country is TOO ACCEPTING?

Don’t worry Marielle, your utopia is alive and well - fat bodies are still marginalized, put down, not taken seriously, and the subject of many poorly written unhelpful articles by journalists just like you!

Also, did Decena ever consider looking into the history of the body positivity movement? If so, she found that it has strong roots in the 1960’s push for FAT LIBERATION. So please don't write about a movement you know nothing about and try to exclude the actual founders and purpose of the movement.

It’s the whole damn point of the body positivity movement to liberate the bodies that are marginalized - not to further break down and compartmentalize who deserves liberation or self love.

My own weight aside, I would like to share with Decena that I worked for a year in a residential treatment facility with adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Some of them were never fat, but all of them feared that reality. All of them feared waking up one day and, well, looking like me. It takes countless months of difficult cognitive restructuring to reframe the mind to see the body as acceptable, and this shitty column is perpetuating the exact cultural ideals pushing people into crisis. Treatments for mental health conditions related to perceptions of the body don’t involve jogging on a treadmill; it involves embracing a whole new perspective on the function of a body. It breaks away from the physical health model in favor of an inegrated mental wellness focus.

I want to proclaim for anyone personally hurt by Decena’s column - you deserve to love yourself now. Right now. As you are. And your loved ones deserve love and appreciation and respect. Right now. We all have different reasons behind our weight, and no one has the right to tell you how to live your life.

(Example: antipsychotics are a life saving medication for many, with a side effect of extreme weight gain. But they should be miserable instead of loving their larger bodies?)

The body positivity movement isn’t encouraging people to be fat, it is embracing those who are, were, or may be fat at some point in their life. Regardless if there is a reason or not.

Clearly there is still work to be done, based on this column alone. I worry for the future if our exercise science department is indoctrinating fat phobic judgmental future professionals.

I hope Decena never goes to the doctor for a serious health problem and gets told “it’s just because you’re overweight” for years before the actual cause is found. I hope no one ever takes photos of her to post as jokes online. I hope her body is never the subject of a poorly written column.

But most of all, I hope she engages in more self education before entering into her field. It is this rhetoric that makes the health and fitness industry largely inaccessible to fat people. We don’t want to show up to lose weight, but some of us are interested in marveling at the beauty of all our bodies can do.

Fat bodies can be healthy, fat bodies can be sexual, fat bodies can be flexible, and fat bodies deserve liberation. Thin bodies can be unhealthy, thin bodies can be sick, and all bodies are good bodies as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

In the meantime, all 280 pounds of my body will be working diligently to build a better future for those who don’t get enough space.


Oh and also, #effyourbeautystandards

Chrissy Croft