The body positivity movement is just the latest iteration of social movements to encourage acceptance of overweight and obese people in American society. While some of their points are valid, the body positivity movement has decided to adopt unscientific positions for the sake of inclusivity.
However, they’ve now led their adherents down a road that puts them much more at risk from having a serious case of COVID-19, much less an almost certain early death.
The modern body-positivity movement is an outgrowth of the fat acceptance movement which began in the 1960s and sought to reverse stigmas surrounding obesity, according to Fusion. It claims to promote mental and emotional wellness through celebrating individuals regardless of their outward appearance, particularly when it comes to physical weight and size, but also with an emphasis on race and gender.
Those who embrace body positivity believe that beauty is completely socially constructed, and functions as a sorting mechanism in societal hierarchies that can be unrelated to beauty and health. Thus, by an outpouring of encouragement for these individuals to accept and love themselves — regardless of their health or physical appearance — body positivists believe they can tear down these supposed barriers.
To a certain extent, the body positivists have a point. At the most basic level, healthy human beings do come in a number of shapes and sizes, and it goes without saying that no one deserves to be bullied for their physical appearance. And, it’s true that sometimes, hierarchies can become corrupted by outside forces that have little to do with achievement and more so to do with things that are more base and superficial.
However, that does not mean that healthy human beings come in all shapes and all sizes.
Nevertheless, body positivists often attempt to frame debates over the merits of this social movement by watering down its message to escape scrutiny over denying basic scientific truths about the health risks associated with being overweight or obese.
For example, in an attempt to promote body positivity, Cosmopolitan UK’s February magazine cover pictured three woman athlete Morgan Lake, exercise blogger and activist Sophie Butler and plus-size model Callie Thorpe with the title “This is healthy!” The magazine later revealed nine alternate covers for the issue, one of which showed an overweight yoga teacher named Jessamyn Stanley — again with the title “This is healthy!”
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Some criticized the cover for allegedly celebrating obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Independent reported.
“There’s nothing to celebrate about being obese in the middle of a pandemic, where you have a 70% bigger chance of being ill with coronavirus if you are obese,” then “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan claimed, according to The Daily Mail.
can you imagine printing this during COVID-19? pic.twitter.com/w8XT1PJafk
— Brent A. Williams, MD (@BrentAWilliams2) July 29, 2021
However, Cosmopolitan defended their decision, claiming they are “all about uplifting our audience and promoting diversity, belonging and positivity. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our readers for our February issue,” the magazine said in a statement given to The Independent UK. “Our aim is to make sure no one feels excluded.”
Regardless of the Cosmopolitan and the rest of the body positivity movement’s intent, the simple fact is that being overweight leads to a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, breathing issues, and mental illness such as depression and anxiety, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Beyond all these health problems, which can be deadly on their own, the CDC says obesity increases “all causes of death.” A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that being obese can decrease their life expectancy by up to 14 years.
If all of the aforementioned health risks don’t persuade body positivists, maybe the fact that obesity makes you much more likely to die from COVID-19 will.
On March 8, the CDC published a study that found out of a sample of 71,491 adults who were admitted to 238 hospitals across the country between March and December 2020, 78% were either overweight or obese.
The study used the subjects’ Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine whether they were obese or overweight. Someone is considered overweight if they have a BMI between 25 and 30, whereas individuals with obesity have a BMI greater than 30, according to the CDC and the NIH. Of the hospitalized patients studied, 27.8% were considered overweight, and 50.2% were obese. (RELATED: A Celebrity Fitness Pro Spoke Truth About Obesity, And The ‘Body Positivity’ Movement Was Not Pleased)
“As clinicians develop care plans for COVID-19 patients, they should consider the risk for severe outcomes in patients with higher BMIs, especially for those with severe obesity,” the authors of the study concluded.
“Our[ intensive care unit] patients seem almost universally obese, while most ill but stable patients elsewhere in the hospital have lower body masses,” writes @MissDiagnosis Associate Professor of Medicine at the SUNY Stony Brook
(This is from April!)https://t.co/wZcNYZ1b6n
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) January 4, 2021
To medical experts, this result is not surprising. “We have long-recognized that obesity is associated with greater vulnerability and attendant consequences from viral infection. Thus, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, what we are witnessing is unsurprising as compelling evidence indicates people living with obesity are at greater risk for health complications from SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Stephen J. Carter told the Daily Caller.
The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity in the world at around 40%, nearly ten points higher than the fattest European country Hungary, and more than five points above the second heaviest country Mexico, Market Watch reported. Maybe COVID-19 was the tragic dose of reality that body positivists needed to drop their insane social movement, and instead encourage Americans to lead healthier, longer lives for themselves and their families.