Plus size & beauty versus obesity & unhealthy

Posted in Health & Wellness by

This post has been swimming in my head for a while now and to be honest, I’m afraid to post it. I’m afraid there will be back lash, I’m afraid there will be ugliness but I’m confused and feeling conflicted and looking for more thoughts and opinions on this subject. The subject of the politically correctness of the plus size.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I’d like to say this:

  • This is in no way a judgy post
  • Up until a year ago, I myself was obese and tipped the scales at 118kg’s
  • At my largest, I wore a size 44/22
  • I, myself was very much plus sized
  • In many circles, at a size 34/36, I’m still very much considered plus sized today
  • My BMI is 26… I’m still considered overweight
  • This post is in no way my way of saying overweight women/people cannot also be beautiful

And just in case you need a reminder…. this is me, this is my truth, this is my constant battle with food, with sugar addiction and with my own personal body image and weight:

IMG_1743

You can read my full journey and never ending battle of the bulge and struggle with food here: Banting

So, this Tweet is really what got me to write this blog post:

Tweet

You should go and read her Twitter feed, I was HORRIFIED at the vile and revolting responses she received. Everything from saying she is wrong in her thinking, to insulting her vagina – yes, even her vagina got attacked, to saying she is uneducated and has an unhealthy mouth. Some even went so far as wishing harm to her. People’s responses shocked me.

And here’s why…

Because I agree with her. There I said it.

I do. I agree.

The model is beautiful and no one would deny that. But she is obese and with obesity come all kinds of health risks. Surely that statement should not come as a surprise to anyone? Surely that is just logic and decades of research into the effects of obesity and medical science?

And here’s why I agree with her? Because I used to have a BMI of 38. When I weighted 118kg’s and wore a size 44, I was clinically obese and I was displaying a long list of the health risks that go hand in hand with obesity.

I had:

  • Insulin Resistance and was on a downward spiral to Type 2 diabetes.
  • I had high blood pressure
  • I had high cholesterol

And those are just a few of the medical conditions I had been diagnosed with. Over and above that, I also had insomnia, painful joints, lacked energy, had digestive problems, had perpetually sore feet and knees and I struggled with back problems. So I know, first hand, what obesity can do, because it did it to me.

Does every obese person walking the planet have these issues? Maybe not now, but they will eventually. My experience is that obesity is very much a disease and not just a condition, it’s not just a way of looking. I know, I was there, I am still embroiled in that struggle with my weight and my health daily. Not to mention the love/hate relationship I have with my body, with my self image and with food.

My obsession with my weight has way more to do with my health than it does with the way I look.

But sometimes I worry we’ve become a society so obsessed with, at times misdirected or misguided, political correctness that we often miss the important issues. Should this woman or any woman, or me, be respected and seen as beautiful, in spite of what the scale says or what the clothing size label says? With out a doubt yes. Should society and by extension ourselves, place less value on what the bathroom scale says? With out a doubt, yes. But can we also be honest and call a spade a spade and say that obesity is very much a disease that ravages ones health? YES!

And that these two issues, while separate are linked? That while ones beauty and ones value and ones intellect should not be judged by what the scale says? YES! But that what the scale says and what the mirror reflects, no matter the beautiful package and the gorgeous plus sized clothes, can and are health risks?

And once again, remember, I am NOT judging anyone, let me remind you of where I come from and what I struggle with daily? Each time I’m faced with a biscuit or a cake or a potato or a slice of bread, I struggle, I know…. I know what its like to live in a world obsessed with external beauty and that fat is rarely seen as beautiful:

Graduation Ceremony

 

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I’ve never been more aware of this than what I’ve been on my journey over the last year. The way I’m treated. The way I’m listened to. The way I’m respected. The relationships that I have. The attention I’m given. EVERTHING has changed since I lost weight, so I get it, I know first hand how society views and judges obese people. I really do get it. And should not be this way. But the fact remains, obesity IS unhealthy.

Surely we all agree on that?

June 23, 2015
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34 Comments

  • Reply kerryheathfield

    This is such a debatable topic and everyone will have an opinion but good on you for being brave enough to post it. This is my two cents;
    Obviously being obese has health risks but so does self-hate. I get that some are worried about plus size models making it “okay” to be unhealthy but everybody is going to take it in a different way. I honestly prefer to look at it from the perspective of body positivity. I admire these woman for “breaking” society’s rules but I do not admire that they overeat. I am plus size and have just reached a point where I have accepted myself. This doesn’t mean that I am an unhealthy or letting myself go – yes, I indulge in a white hot choc now and then but in between that I am drinking my lemon water and eating my fruit. I just think the most important thing is to not judge because any plus size person could be on the journey to bettering their lifestyle, but we can’t know that just by looking at them. I have so much to say but am battling to find the words because I don’t disagree with you entirely but I also promote body positivity

    June 23, 2015 at 9:20 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I totally hear what you’re saying Kerry. It is such an emotive issue and obviously ones opinion will also be formed by ones experience with obesity.
      I always thought that I had made peace with my struggle and that I had accepted my body for what it was. In truth though, I’ve come to realize that it was more that I’d kind of given up and started to believe that I could never be a healthier/slimmer version of me. And again, while my journey definitley did start out as a journey to look better, it has changed so much and has become so much more about being a healthier, stronger version of me,something I couldn’t be when I weighted in at 118kg’s. It’s a daily struggle. I get it. Believe me, I get it. It’s a struggle. And I’m battling to figure out where I fit in all of this having been on both sides. Does that make sense? Also, please tell me my post didn’t come off as judgy because that was not my intention at all.

      June 23, 2015 at 9:25 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    I agree with you Sharon and well done for saying this. Obese is not to be celebrated. It is a disease and an addiction to be fought against. Like drugs and alcohol – food can be an addiction and an unhealthy relationship to food is a disease, it’s not beautiful.

    June 23, 2015 at 9:59 am
    • Reply Sharon

      As a food addict myself. I agree with you. But I do think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder & we should not, as a society, confuse what we consider beautiful with what is healthy. The same be said for the opposite extreme of being too skinny, some find that beautiful but there is no doubt it is also not healthy & comes with it’s own health risks.

      June 23, 2015 at 10:22 am
  • Reply nunu5

    I also agree , where I differ is that research has shown that overweight people are sometimes healthier than acceptable weight people. So Obese unsafe but overweight the jury is still out.

    I do think you have to be happy with yourself no matter where you are but you also have to make the decision to loose weight for yourself I suppose it is like any other addiction no one can make the decision for you.

    So how do you validate that woman for being beautiful in herself for accepting herself without condoning an unhealthy condition. But then we do it everyday with supermodels who are below acceptable BMI and grow excess hair on thier bodies to cope along with other health issues and seldom do we judge them?

    I suppose it is about accepting a person and their path in life while supporting being healthy.

    June 23, 2015 at 10:37 am
    • Reply Sharon

      But I’m not talking about being overweight,I’m talking about being obese.
      And for me, being obese and being beautiful are two separate issues. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone should feel beautiful BUT to attack someone, as with the tweet I shared, for saying that we should celebrate beauty but recognize the health dangers of obesity…. I can’t agree with that.
      And I’ve someone who is currently overweight, been a normal weight and been clinically obese so I understand what it’s like to be on all sides of this.

      June 23, 2015 at 10:45 am
  • Reply Belinda Mountain (@BelindaMountain)

    You’re right. I think sometimes political correctness can be taken too far – there is a huge difference between being slightly overweight (and happy with yourself and celebrating that acceptance) and being clinically obese (which the woman in the picture is).

    June 23, 2015 at 8:40 pm
  • Reply Debs

    I think your post, and the comments below, highlight just how much these concepts have become really blurred. Is beauty defined by what we see in the media? Do consumers feed that image to the media? Should we praise a women simply for attempting to break these moulds? I really do agree that they are 2 very separate subjects – beauty and health. And I also agree that whilst that lady might be very beautiful, and strong, she also had to make some very unhealthy choices to get that way. Some of the models I see in ad campaigns are horrifically thin, which poses as many health risks as being obese does. I like these discussions because its the only way things change – by talking and discussing and getting mad and being passionate and getting to the real core of an issue. x

    June 24, 2015 at 3:28 pm
  • Reply Currently…. a whole lot of random thoughts & round up’s…. | The Blessed Barrenness

    […] also wanted to thank everyone who commented on this post I wrote about plus size and beauty versus obesity and health. I received a number of tweets, private messages and even emails from people who wanted to discuss […]

    June 26, 2015 at 11:12 am
  • Reply Alet

    I think it’s important to remember that we are all on a journey. So if she is obese but she has lost 20 kilos already – she’s done a great job, celebrate the victory and continue! But if she is okay with were she is and not doing anything to improve herself, then it’s shame.

    I really do like the photographer’s intention with the whole campaign. Self love & acceptance is key – regardless of where we are on the journey.

    June 26, 2015 at 11:25 am
  • Reply Mandy

    Great post, Sharon … just have to ask you one thing – when you started, did you do it for your healfth or for your self-image? I am only asking, because I am going through such a turmoil at the moment …

    June 30, 2015 at 9:12 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Initially I did it for a bit of both, but mostly self-image. But the further I went along the journey and the more I learned about myself and my health and my habits, the more it because more of a health issue.

      July 1, 2015 at 9:15 am
  • Reply South African Mom Blogs June Roundup and Linky - South African Mom Blogs

    […] Sharon had a very thought provoking post on Plus Size and Beauty versus Obesity and Unhealthy. […]

    July 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm
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