Is the Plus-Size industry glorifying obesity? | Body Positivity

When I saw the October Cosmopolitan cover with Tess Holiday, I can't lie. I didn't know how to feel. I paused and thought...hmmm I don't know about this. As many of you know I am a body positive advocate and I always scream at the top of my lungs about the importance of representation of plus size,chubby, full figured and thick women....but this cover made me ponder. Is the plus-size industry glorifying obesity or even ignoring health issues and using body positivity as a cover up?

I have struggled with speaking on this issue for a while because what other people choose to do with their body isn't any of my business and I am not the healthiest person out here. According to health standards I am classified as 'over-weight' I have no real say,right? but I also feel like I do because I understand what is it like to carry extra weight on my body and how it makes you feel. I have always been bigger, I've never known what it feels like to be skinny. So I had to learn to feel comfortable in my body at a young age, no matter how uncomfortable it made others feel, it had to be done for my own self-love journey.

Elomi Lingerie ''Malibu Days'' Bikini | Photographer : @KweenKamilah 
Being body positive to me, means having a healthy relationship with your body, from the inside to the outside, because so many of us focus on the outside appearance and we neglect our mental health. We have a growing issue with young people and plastic surgery as well as eating disorders and body dysmorphia which many brands and media do not want to address or even acknowledge.

When people ask me how am I so confident?, I often tell them its because I had to un-learn all of the negative thoughts and ideals I had about perfection and that my body is my home. I had to learn to love it because its mine and the only one I will ever have. It is also a constant journey, it doesn't happen over night and it also isn't easy. Self-love is the hardest journey you will ever take in your life because it requires you to be honest with yourself and tackle the 'flaws' you think you have and learn to love your bad parts.

Elomi Lingerie ''Tribal'' Bikini | Photographer : @KweenKamilah 

I feel like 'being healthy' is a taboo subject in the body positive movement. As much as I am in this movement, I have a lot of hang ups about it. I have noticed that if someone who is plus sized mentions they work out or they live a healthy lifestyle, people automatically have something negative to say. Whether it be

''oh, I thought you loved yourself'
'You finally realised you are fat''
''what happened to being body positive?''
''Are you sure you go to the gym,because you aren't losing weight?''
I feel sometimes, people mean well with their comments because they are genuinely concerned about the health of someone, but its about the approach and how you say it.
There is a difference in saying
'' You are fat, lose weight''
''You are overweight,go to the gym''
'' You are a fat slob,stop eating''
in comparison to
''Is everything ok with you these days?''
'' How are you feeling these days?''
 ''I'm going to a new class at the gym,do you want to join me,it will be fun''

BUT..with that all said, many don't actually care and they have internalised what they believe perfection is. They have decided that being healthy automatically means being skinny due to European standards of beauty and media! Social media has given people the confidence to be keyboard warriors who post vile comments of hatred and abuse with no responsibility. I don't know what they gain from it,because it doesn't make you a better person in any way because other people's bodies aren't any of your business. And don't get it twisted I have made my own judgements and comments on other people's bodies too in the past out of plain ignorance or unproductive methods of concern.

Another reason why I battled with this Cosmo cover is because, Cosmo has been a huge influencer and promoter of the 'skinny is right' narrative!! If you do a simple goggle search you will find hundreds of covers that promote losing weight to look sexy, or fast ways to reduce belly fat and more. Do Cosmo actually care about women's health or have they realised they have contributed to many women's battles with their appearances? Cosmo has never appealed to me because, they hardly ever featured black women and a lot of their articles tend to break women down or make them feel inadequate with their man-pleasing tips or ways to improve yourself for someone else's approval.  It always felt like a problematic magazine and when I saw the Tess Holiday cover, I felt...hmmm are they trying to gain attention because the magazine industry is suffering and they want to boost their profile? Or do they genuinely care?

As a black woman, being plus size or thicker is more common in our cultures and I have always felt like we have always been celebrators of plus size women, even though we still aren't majorly included in the plus size movements. In a lot of our cultures, being skinny is seen as a negative thing, a lot of older people will say you are poor, sick or ill...or you have aids *rolls eyes* and in some cultures, being a fuller figured woman is a sign of wealth because it means you have money to eat well in comparison to poorer families and is deemed as more attractive. So my position in the plus size space is a tricky one because the celebration for me isn't new, it isn't a trend, we have always done it. It seems ever since Kim Kardashian bought an ass and some hips the world went crazy and having an hour glass body and being thicker became trendy.

I guess I still don't know where I stand with this Tess Holiday cover. I do feel her body isn't a positive representation of health, but I do think she has a positive representation of body positivity because she is showing people she is comfortable in her own skin and loves herself. I do however believe we need to have a real conversation about obesity, mental health and lifestyle choices with solutions that help to encourage healthy, positive relationships with self. Because lets be real... It is much deeper than eating cheese burgers...

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