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of body positivity


I know I’ve been gone for a while.

I wanted to write in this post about recent events in my life that had me poetic, wax and wane lyrical about floating and sensuality and the funky human cause for my sudden loss of gravity.  I wanted to write about the termination of those poetic events, and being brought back to earth, and how both their inception and termination perhaps could reflect on parts of me and my thoughts on society.

...and I wanted an excuse to be emo.

I wanted to write about atheism, especially since I am reading Dawkins’ The God Delusion, as well as this cool dude’s amazingly cool blog on the topic, and am all in a mood to smite the walls of ignorant religion with my own words that could not rival but might at least might pay homage to the elegance and explanatory consistency of the two authors I have mentioned above.  Dawkins especially, not least because he’s a thorn in the side of theists everywhere.

I love you...r prose style. Totally.

But I have deferred both topics simply because I am too worked up at this point in time to come to any sort of understandable clarity in my writing about either.  They will surface in upcoming posts.  Just not now.  I need time to cool, I write ridiculously when impassioned. 😛

Instead I’m going to talk a bit about body positivity.  Those of you who know me, will know how much I loathe discrimination based on appearance or gender.  I came across this woman’s blog some time back, and subscribed to it and have been pretty consistently following it. It’s called Dances with Fat and it’s by a very inspiring woman called Ragen Chastain. It’s an impressive blog.  I don’t agree with everything she says, especially a few of the medical points, but I’d be lying if I said most of her ideas didn’t appeal to me.  Her posts, all well-written, form a sort of constant inspiration for me, a reminder that I am not wrong to feel good about my body, that if I stand tall and step with pride without constantly worrying about how fat I look, its a good thing, not a bad one.

I am proud, bitches!

For those of you too lazy to go through her blog (you know who you are!) there are two ideas that, aside from general body positivity, I will repeat here.  Overall Ragen talks about a lot of issues, like the media image of fat people, Health at All Sizes, discrimination against fat people, and many many other things.  But I will focus on two for now.

Firstly, Body positivity in general refers to the idea that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you should feel good about your body and treat it with the respect and love it deserves.  This can range from something tiny, like smiling at yourself in the mirror, to something more bold, like wearing revealing clothing despite conventions that really fat (or really skinny) people need to ‘cover up’ as much as possible.  Body positivity applies to people of all sizes, not just larger ones, and hence negativity like dissing skinny people just to feel good about yourself is of course severely discouraged.

One of the ideas I really liked from her blog is a continuation of the body positivity idea.  Basically, its that even if you are dissatisfied with how you look, you should pause for a second and appreciate all the things your body does for you.  Again and again, in several places she’s stressed the idea.  Stop. Think.  Appreciate.  Your body does so much for you.  It breathes, it moves, it thinks wonderful things, its working without a fault, twenty four seven, and all without a glitch.  Then why hate it?  For just a moment we should reject all the external messages telling us what to think about the ‘lump of flesh’ we’re saddled with and quietly, internally, consider what a wonderful thing it actually is.  Your body is extraordinary.  Learn to appreciate it.


        The second thing Ragen stresses that I really liked is about respect.  The whole focus of her blog is not to tell people that they should or should not lose weight, that they should or should not aim to be fat, that being fat is good or being skinny is bad.  The whole focus of her blog is respect about choices.  She insists, time and again, that it is one’s personal decision to choose to remain at a certain weight, or to choose to change that weight.  A fat person on a diet is as good as a fat person eating cheeseburgers – and both of them are beyond our right to criticise, so long as it is their personal choice to eat that way, or live that way.

This is counter-intuitive, especially to someone like me – for me, only a certain type of behaviour is acceptable.  So someone who is proud to be fat is as okay as someone proud to be skinny, but then someone trying to lose weight, by that rule, would not be acceptable.  That was before i came to understand the central concept behind Dances With Fat – the idea that respect is the key thing.  We need to stop thinking people’s body choices are anyone’s business but their own – and stop passing judgements based on them. We need to learn to respect other people’s choices.

That’s about all I wanted to say. 🙂 See you next time with more ramblings 😛

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27 thoughts on “of body positivity

    1. I know you’re just teasing 😛 but I’ll answer anyway. Color comes under appearances, so thats done. As far as race is concerned, yes that too drives me crazy, but racism still receives a lot of attention and in decent society at least its seriously frowned on. Discrimination of fat people however, doesnt receive half as much attention tho its becoming a serious problem.

  1. yea i hate when people talk about body issues and esp ‘diss’ skinny people just to feel better…or diss not so skinny people…people should keep their disses to them selves lol.
    anyway i like the body positivity of smiling at yourself in the mirror.it always feels good.

  2. The God Delusion – I read that book and I didn’t like it too much. Would love to hear your review about it once you are done :).

    As for body positivity, absolutely right. Nobody has the right to ridicule another person just because they are fat or skinny but from a medical point of view, maintaining a normal weight should be encouraged in less infuriating ways though.

    1. I didn’t think it was the best thing he’s written, but I still thought the book was pretty good. It gave very good arguments and pretty much supported my own view that the world really doesn’t need a God or organised religion. So basically I enjoyed it.

  3. It’s what you get when you don’t keep up with the flow manzz.

    I wanted to post the tummy argument of the three atheistic alliances in the dawkins south park episode, but can’t find it

    1. Strangely enough, those guys aren’t atheists.

      “Basically … out of all the ridiculous religion stories which are greatly, wonderfully ridiculous — the silliest one I’ve ever heard is, ‘Yeah … there’s this big giant universe and it’s expanding, it’s all gonna collapse on itself and we’re all just here just ’cause … just ’cause’. That, to me, is the most ridiculous explanation ever.”

      o_O

  4. quite an important issue, thoughtful of you to highlight it this way. Plus, its not only ‘others’ who stress out people on the way they look or how they weigh. I have seen many practical real life example where even mothers literally harass their daughters on being bulky or dark; throwing insensitive remarks thinking they are encouraging them to get back in shape. Its sick, plain sick!

  5. I think bias against extreme body types has always been an issue, and not a recent thing. Just ‘plump’ as a negative thing exacerbated in the early ’90s when Size Zero supermodels first became a phenomenon, and has since been in focus on and off. In any case, no one is to be valued less as a person owing only to appearance.

    When we appreciate and respect all that our bodies are doing for us, though, the least we can do is take care of them. A medical problem is a totally different scenario, but if a person is excessively fat or thin from neglect, they should be actively seeking/accepting help instead of thinking their lifestyle is acceptable. Considering it their choice to stay fat/thin makes me lose a little respect for them. But, I accept that it is their choice, of course.

    That said, people go about pointing these things out with all the tact of a bulldozer. A basic understanding of people will show that harassment will lead to greater indulgence and not the desirable result. Yet so many persist at it, I wonder why.

    1. Hey Blot! Good to see you here ❤

      I so agree with everything you've said, especially the conclusion. Definitely if any criticism is directed, it should be in the form of tactful advice, if at all.

  6. Question: How does a single/tiniest cell in the living organism, from the very first time it is created knows what its purpose IS? Let’s say the sperm cell, how does it know that its mission in its short lived life is to carry the payload to the mother egg. From where are these instructions fed into it or in other words who feeds these instructions?

    Similarly once a watched a documentary on National Geographic called “Inside the Womb”. I was very much thrilled to know that when the baby’s heart is developing, all the cell form a chuck and start beating together in a rhythm. Now how do they do that, can they talk to each other 🙂 or its just a coincidence or some greater force instructs them.

    PS: I’m new to your blog, apologies if I sound rude. And I’m engineer with very little or no knowledge about the medical field. Hence kindly explain to me in lame man term. Thanks 🙂

    1. Lol, this isn’t the place to explain biology, and it doesn’t have much to do with the topic of the blogpost, but I’ll try anyway. You’re an engineer, so you probably don’t know too much about bio, but if you read up on this stuff you can find it explained easily in many books. Basically all cells interact with each other via chemical messengers. They secrete or release little proteins that go fit on other little proteins on the other cells (called receptors) and once they fit there, they cause changes in the other cell. That is how cells ‘talk’ to each other.

      Another way they ‘talk’ is via electrical currents. In a newborn’s heart, hell, in anyone’s heart the cells all beat together because they all receive an electrical current at the same time, and that causes them to move.

      But how does the cell know what chemical messenger to use, and what protein to release, and what receptor to display? Well, all that info is actually present in the headquarters of the cell, known as the nucleus. The blueprint or instructions are present on DNA. DNA has evolved over the years in a self-perfecting mechanism, so that it carries the best instructions that are needed for an organism to survive.

      I’ve tried to be as lame-man as possible in my terms 😛 If you don’t understand, I’ll try to find a video for you, or alternately you could just pick up an A level biology book, it will explain these things simply. 🙂

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