My thoughts on BIM before and after post – Dr Emma Johnston

Well the first thing I need to say is WOW. Over 2.6million people viewed the post and over 14000 people felt it was worth sharing with their friends.

Over 2300 people have taken the time to give their personal opinion on the post in the comments section, and it is to this that I would like to turn my attention. Click the link below to see the post via Facebook.!/photo.php?fbid=314574818670200&set=a.209208695873480.46106.207017289425954&type=1&theater

The majority of comments indicated that people found the post to be not only powerful but empowering as well. Many women (and men) expressed appreciation for the post in highlighting the importance to them of learning self acceptance. As one of the main aims of the Body Image Movement is to communicate the message of accepting and loving our body, this has been extremely gratifying to see.

There were also some comments indicating that some thought that the ‘after’ photo was condoning laziness and obesity. I have personally found this intensely interesting to see how the conversation has unfolded as it has highlighted the unhelpful “all or nothing values” that are widespread throughout the Western World and heavily promoted by the media.

Some people have bought into the belief that body fat (whether a lot or a little) indicates that a person is clearly bad, lazy, unhealthy, unfit and does not deserve to feel good about themselves and their body. If having some fat means this, then being skinny must indicate qualities such as being good, healthy, motivated and fit. Where did this extreme attitude come from? We all come in different shapes and sizes and size is not a measure of health or fitness or how much we deserve happiness. Small people can be healthy or they can also be unhealthy. Larger people can be healthy or they can also be unhealthy. Average sized people can be healthy or they can also be unhealthy.

What is unhealthy is the attitude that you must be toned and have no excess fat anywhere to be healthy.

This attitude does not take into account lifestyle, genetics, health complications, personal history etc. Why am I saying that this belief is unhealthy? Because if you hold this belief you are opening yourself up to self loathing if you don’t meet those standards of perfection, or if you do meet the standards of perfection but then have an accident, or a baby, or age normally, or have any of a million other things occur in your life, then you will have to live with a realisation that you can’t maintain your own standards, which can generate emotional distress.

So, come onboard with the Body Image Movement and help us to spread the message and keep it real – we are real people with real bodies and those bodies tell a story. Let’s love and accept what we have and thus get the motivation to focus on health and wellbeing (both physically and emotionally).

Author: Dr Emma Johnston

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