Body Culture And When “Healthy” Is The PC Guise For “Skinny”

We assign numbers to health and worth. We are bombarded with messages that instruct us to do so, almost constantly, so of course it’s been ingrained in our psyche. We have learned to associate (whether consciously or not) being loved and worthy with what we appear to be more than what we are. Beyond that, we take these socially contrived measurements, and use them to compare ourselves to each other. In reality, no weight or pant size can really determine whether or not someone is attractive or healthy because people differ so greatly in structure and genetic makeup. But more importantly than that, people’s tastes differ: not just what people are attracted to, but also how we feel comfortable. The problem is we’re masking comfort with thinness because we’re molded to not be comfortable with any kind of excess fat or body shape that’s not society’s ideal.

We are so starved for authenticity when it comes to body image, we’ve started worshiping those who are curvy, dubbing them emblems of “womanhood” because we’re desperately looking to idolize those who portray what we need to see. The issue with this, however, is that it is counter-productive in that it “skinny shames,” as some people call it, and that further enforces body culture by the way of what is “right” and “wrong” being determined by a size or shape.

We police each other but end up sending mixed messages while doing so because of our fixation with “health” as a guise for “thinness” and our innate judgment of those who are outside of the weight and size bracket that we consider “healthy” when really, that is not the whole picture. We have replaced the idea of “healthy” with a politically-correct-sounding excuse to enforce skinny culture. We say be healthy, but what are we implying? Be skinny. We’re not campaigning fiercely for what it means to be healthy as much as what the physical benefits of being healthy are. We’re not creating websites devoted to removing processed and sugar-laden foods from our diets as much as we are to being fit. We’re not discussing the ways in which a normal person who is not athletically inclined can exercise, and we’re not supporting the efforts of people who have healthy lifestyles that aren’t taken to an extreme. No, we’re encouraging intense workouts, extreme weight loss, paleo-diets, and everything else that will yield the same result: skinny. Now, because of the intensely unhealthy culture we have created, sometimes, these tactics are necessary for people who are genuinely unhealthy and need a lifestyle overhaul. But I’m not talking about those people.

At the end of the day, we all need to find pride within our bodies, and to understand that health means to use the body and to nourish and care for it in the ways that it was naturally built for. We have to remove the idea of weight and size and what it defines us as and completely refocus on habits that will yield longer, healthier, happier lives. Stronger lives. Less disease-ridden lives. Lives we are proud of and bodies we can live in. Our bodies are our homes and our temples. We have to start treating them like it. TC mark

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Brianna Wiest

Brianna Wiest is the author of SALT WATER.

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