In our society, we have various messages that are quickly ingrained in to us as we grow and mature. One such message is that our body exists completely for others, and if others do not see it as being “good” then it loses it’s worth. Statistics have shown that “by middle school, 40-70% of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body”, and this dissatisfaction continues to increase as these girls get older. This crisis has grown rampant in our society. Thankfully, in the past couple of years, there has been a significant rise in the amount of attention towards body shaming through the body positive movement; this movement includes videos, blogs, and other forms of media that are being produced.
One such person who has helped in the rise of body positivity among popular culture is Whitney Thore. Whitney is the star of TLC’s new show My Big Fat Fabulous Life, and the creator of the website and movement No Body Shame. Whitney grew up as a normal teen until she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; a disorder which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormones, and, in Whitney’s case, weight. Whitney gained nearly 200 pounds and was left with a changed life. Following months of unhappiness, Whitney was able to use her love for dance and the people close to her in life to reinvent her mindset and create the No Body Shame campaign.
JMU had the amazing opportunity of having Whitney as a guest speaker. She discussed with us her journey to body positivity and also shared tips on how we can also acquire this body positive mindset. First, she told us to STOP fat talk. Fat talk is a way in which we shame ourselves and others for having a body shape that is not as accepted in our society due to size. Fat talk can affect people of all ages, nationalities, races, and yes, even size. Fat talk does not only affect people who are socially deemed as “fat”, but also assists in the shaming of various body shapes and sizes. Next, she told us to look at our body as an instrument rather than an object; our bodies are meant for so much more than to simply “look pretty”. Lastly, she tells us to learn to love our bodies. I know, I know… easier said than done. But Whitney described that the first step in loving our bodies is realizing that it is okay to do just that. We are constantly told that if our bodies are not what is shown on t.v., then they’re not worthy. The reality of it is that, regardless of what you look like, your worth is measured by so much more than a simple number on a scale. The second step is to find something that you love. Whitney described that as you do an activity you enjoy, just as she did with dance, you will have an increase in positive
thinking and happiness, which will then help you love your body more.
I enjoyed Whitney’s speech tremendously simply because she encouraged us to love our bodies and to enrich our live’s through activity.