This ‘Body Positivity’ Thing Needs to Go Away
I’m going to start this column with a confession: I’m overweight. I know that I have a lot of weight to lose, but my problem is that I like to eat. It definitely affects my self-consciousness, especially at places like the pool and the beach. I know what I need to do; unfortunately, I haven’t done it yet.
Now that I’ve said that, I’ll say this: the whole “body positivity” thing needs to go away. I’ve had two reminders of it over the past few days. One of them was an encouraging, uplifting exploration of the topic, while the other was an indication of just how grotesque these “body positivity” advocates are.
Over the weekend, I listened to one of my favorite Christian podcasts. In it, Christian apologist and singer-songwriter Alisa Childers spoke with another apologist, graphic designer Phoenix Hayes, about the equal sins of “body positivity” from obese people and “fat shaming” from those who aren’t overweight.
Childers and Hayes were honest about their own weight struggles, which ranged from difficulties losing weight post-pregnancy to legitimate eating disorders. The two women landed on the thesis that “fat shaming” and “body positivity” are equal sins. We shouldn’t judge other people for their weight struggles mainly because we don’t know what they’re going through. At the same time, we all should strive to keep our bodies in the best shape we can. (For a Christian, the notion is that we should use our bodies for God’s glory, but even non-believers can understand the advantages of making our bodies the best that they can be.)
Their conclusion was both encouraging and convicting. I know that I need to do better at maintaining an ideal weight and being in better shape, but at the same time, I shouldn’t look down on people whose weight struggles might be worse than mine.
And then there was the reminder of how disgusting the “body positivity” movement can be. On Monday morning, I read a column by Julie Burchill at The Spectator about singer Sam Smith and his recent “body positivity” escapades.
Related: Singer Sam Smith Paid Tribute to Satan at the Grammys, and Zzzzzzzzz
“Until recently, it was generally understood that attractive people might expose themselves and unattractive people would keep a lid on it, cultivating other meritorious qualities such as kindness or spite,” Burchill writes. “But recent years have seen the rise of bogus ‘body positivism’ (if you were positive about your body, you wouldn’t want it to expire early from the side effects of morbid obesity) and fallacious ‘fat activism’ (if you were active, you wouldn’t be fat).”
Burchill writes about how Smith cavorts onstage and in videos exposing way too much of his obese body. She points out that “he often appears topless in videos and onstage – playing with his moobs in the manner of a wistful matron feeling the avocados for ripeness at [grocery chain] Waitrose – and often showing a good part of his vast a**.”
We’re already aware of Sam Smith; he makes sure of that. Remember, he’s the guy who, upon accepting his Oscar for Best Song for his lackluster “Spectre” theme song, he had the gall to refer to himself as the first gay man to win an Oscar (forgetting legends like Howard Ashman and Elton John). He made a massive deal out of his “non-binary” declaration and demanded that a sycophantic mainstream media abide by his pronoun madness. And let’s not forget his Satanist-inspired Grammy performance.
We get it, Sam. You’re here, you’re queer (or whatever it is you want to call yourself these days), but we might never get used to you showing off your un-showoff-able body. I can’t help but wonder if Smith’s attention-harlotry is a cover for a fear that he can’t get by on talent alone. (For what it’s worth, I don’t think he has any talent.)
It’s the same dilemma Lizzo must find herself in. She has a couple of songs that I didn’t dislike, and when she played James Madison’s crystal flute at the Library of Congress, she demonstrated a talent that many pop music fans didn’t know she had. So why does she keep making such a big deal about wanting everybody to love the fact that she’s morbidly obese?
In the end, this whole “body positivity” thing is about approval — for the wrong reasons. Burchill points out that “fat activism means being an over-privileged and under-employed blue-hair sitting on your big fat bum and swearing at naysayers on the internet while a gaggle of similarly chunky girlfriends call you ‘Kween!’”
Just like we should accept someone for who he or she is rather than for characteristics like race, sexual orientation, and other things, we shouldn’t base our approval of others on their size. But that’s what the “body positivity” crowd wants us to do. Lord knows it needs to stop now.