Feeling Conflicted - Body Positivity vs. Public Health
Throughout the duration of my public health studies I have found myself conflicted by the requirement to discuss obesity as a major public health issue, while sustaining my belief in the body positivity movement. The epidemiology tells us that the percentage of the Australian population considered overweight or obese is increasing annually, as is the prevalence of co-morbid diseases such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and associated musculoskeletal conditions. Many public health initiatives are run each year to try and educate and help us to make better decisions in relation to our diets and lifestyles, but I've found these tend to enforce the notion that 'fat is bad' - whether intentional or not, I don't know.
From the perspective of public health it is important to allow Australian's access to the information they require to make informed, healthy choices about their own bodies, but is the way we're doing it at the moment causing more harm than good? I think in some cases it might be. This opinion is driven from the facts stated above, in the context of three years of looking into them and not seeing a lot change in the programs dedicated to assisting us to be healthy. We've got recommendations and guidelines, and categories, but what I believe is missing from these campaigns is the real voices and stories of the Australian's living within the nation's 'obesity epidemic'.
It seems we've forgotten that we're talking about real people with beautiful bodies in all shapes and sizes. Real people with lives, passions and emotions, who are more than just a classification in our health data.
So, what should we do?
For all the research that goes into overweight and obesity, there's a distinct research gap on information acknowledging the integration of the body positivity movement and the physical activity rates and nutrition of Australian's classified as such. This makes it tricky to say firmly what we should do, but I absolutely believe that developing initiatives to educate us about living healthy lives needs grow from a foundation based on acceptance and a holistic approach to overall health; the body leads the mind, and the mind leads the body. This on a large scale however, is way beyond my current reach.
I love to learn about food - how to grow it, how to cook it, how to eat it. This is something I'm actively pursuing in my life at the moment as I have recently made some quite substantial changes to my diet to assist me in improving my health status. Learning about nutrition can be really dry, so I want to make it interesting and fun. This doesn't mean we're becoming a cooking blog - it means I'll be creating installments once a month dedicated to passing on what I've learnt about keeping myself healthy - entwined with self love, care, and self esteem growth - to ensure that this platform can be used to actively ensure we're all living healthy, happy lives, without prejudice towards our body shapes.
Let's be happy, healthy, and beautiful just the way we are together.