People Positive and Fat Shaming
Being More People Positive and Fat Shaming Issues
YNA Educational Piece About Fat Shaming And Being People Positive:
“People positive,” based on our world view, is about not judging an individual based on anything but the way they behave. Below you will see an interaction that took place last night on the Young Naturists America Facebook wall. But before you read it, I would like to just make a couple of points very clear…
The YNA people positive outlook is one of acceptance. Do we see people who are overweight or underweight? Yes. But it is not our place to judge these people. First of all, every person is different, and everyone has health issues. We do not know this history, we also do not know what this person is doing in order to live a healthy life.
By jumping to judgement, people assume that they know what that person has been through and what physical issues they are forced to deal with. Also, the health of a person cannot be measured in pounds or inches.
The USA is, for the most part, a free country. People have the right to choose how to lead their lives, and if they are happy then they are doing a good job. In order to see the person for who they are, people need to look past the outward appearances and see the person for who they truly are.
Sensitivity to other people is a major focus of the people positive approach we take at YNA. We don’t believe that offering advice on sensitive or personal matters unless an individual asks for an opinion. But if asked, we believe in telling that individual exactly what you think.
We all want to feel accepted – it’s human nature. One negative comment (even with honest good intentions at heart) could have a long-lasting profound effect on a person’s body image and general psyche. I mention general psyche because I want to be clear that our people positive outlook does not begin and / or end with body image and weight.
The people positive ideal applies to many different facets of life and human interaction. Bullying is a great example of behavior that cannot and should not be tolerated. Bullying does not have to mean physically attacking someone and causing bodily harm. A comment could leave scars that last a lifetime and this is something we do not approve of and frankly do not tolerate.
Our members are expected to act and interact in a respectful manner. Sometimes people might unknowingly say things or act in ways that could have negative repercussions. In such situations we expect those individuals to express some form of honest remorse (especially since the the comments were not intended to be hurtful). Saying sorry is by no means a show of weakness; if anything, it is a show of moral and ethical stature.
Online and offline we urge people to think of the repercussions of what they say and how they say it. Realizing that our actions influence others is the first step to becoming a people positive and civilized society.
And without further ado, here is the post that started it, followed by the conversation (I removed individuals’ names as needed for privacy concerns).
Brian Anthony Kraemer: I don’t think that’s beautiful. If I saw a bluebird or a butterfly or a squirrel or any other species of animal that obese I wouldn’t think it was beautiful either. That woman needs to get on an all plants-based diet (vegan) and keep up her walking along the shoreline.
“Mr.Y” Replies: How do you know she doesn’t already do all that ?
Felicity Jones Comments: Brian, one of the cornerstones of the YNA value system is that it’s not our place to judge what somebody looks like, no matter how big or small they might be. Comments like yours can go a long way as far as hurting that person’s self-esteem and self-image. Frankly, such comments are downright unacceptable. Stephen also makes a good point.
Research has shown that many overweight people don’t eat any differently from thin people, and size is often not an accurate measure of how healthy a person is. (You can be a thin person who eats nothing but junk food & never exercises!) You don’t know this woman, her background, her genes, her diet or exercise regimen, so don’t presume to know what’s best for her health and well-being. Let us reiterate, it’s not your place nor ours to judge or make medical recommendations.
“Mr.Z” Comments: I agree with Young Naturists America but I will say that it’s hard to find the balance between fighting obesity/promoting a healthy weight and also not judging people. I would never say anything to offend anyone, but what IS the proper way to promote a healthy weight without offending obese people or promoting sex?
Felicity Replies: “Mr.Z”, what anyone can do is have a healthy lifestyle and lead by example. But other than that we should accept them. And basically only offer help or advice if they ask you for it. It’s offensive to impose your own ideas of how that person should change their body or lifestyle, especially if you don’t know the person’s medical history.
To be proactive, you can also write and talk about it, bring up the issue, and raise awareness. (But it ain’t easy and you have to be dedicated!) This is a good article on this topic: ‘What’s Wrong With Fat Shaming? Fat shaming ought to be self-explanatory, but it’s actually kind of tricky to…’ [click here to see the entire article]
Brian Anthony Kraemer Replies: I know my words aren’t politically correct, but I don’t believe the argument that this is healthy. Give me one example of any species on the planet other than human beings who are grossly overweight and still manage to congratulate each other on how beautiful they are. If the woman pictured has some sort of thyroid imbalance or other rare physical problem that makes being obese a necessity, then her efforts to do the best she can with what she’s got, and her effort to overcome it, is beautiful, but I won’t say the obesity is beautiful.
If someone’s face is horrifically marred by accident or disease, he may be inwardly beautiful, his spirit, his joy and happiness and strength of character may be beautiful, but I’m not going to put a photograph of his frightening appearance on Facebook and entitle it, “Some beautiful photos.”
Felicity: Brian, the point we were trying to make is about not judging another person based on their appearance / size. It’s *not* about whether you think it’s “beautiful” or not. You’re entitled to your own opinion about the beauty of any piece of art, or what you consider attractive in a person, as is everyone. But judging & fat shaming are different, and don’t do any good for anyone.
What do you think of the “people positive” outlook? Fat shaming? Have you ever experienced Fat Shaming or any kind of Body Shaming? What did you do about it?