If you go to a magazine rack at your local store there is one theme in common: weight and weight-loss. The TV is the same, and so are most online popular news outlets. We are assaulted with negative body comments 24/7 in our forever-connected world. This doesn’t just extend to women either, men are constantly being told to be more thin and muscular. This cultural obsession has created some seriously disturbing results. According to a 2005 study by NeumarkSztanier, over 50% of teen girls, and 33% of teen boys use unhealthy behaviors to control weight such as fasting or using harmful weightloss drugs. Another study done in 1995 by Shisslak and Crago reported that 35% of “normal dieters” become pathologically and harmfully obsessed with dieting.
The internet has only added fuel to the fire. There are “thinspiration” websites that promote eating disorders, constant weight-loss schemes, and recently in the media: online bullying. Both anonymous and known users taking to the internet to bully a person, unfortunately sometimes ending in suicide of the victim. But there is a whole other side to weight ideals online.
The body positivity and fat acceptance movements are blooming under the surface of the internet. When most people hear “fat acceptance” they assume it encourages an unhealthy life style, but it’s the exact opposite. It promotes healthy lifestyles and discourages fatphobic thinking like judging people because of their weight, or fat shaming, and encourages acceptance of your body.
Though there are many places to find body positivism blogs on platforms like Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress, the general summary of these blogs has been culminated into one website and one cause: Health At Every Size. HAES urges you to “respect the diversity of the human body,” no matter your body type. It provides online resources to further your body positivism education and teach you to love your body for what it is. It also debunks the popular myth that fat equals unhealthy.
HAES is just starting out, but with over 4,000 pledges it’s growing fast. Linda Bacon, the women who started the site also wrote the popular book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Her intent is to strengthen the HAES movement and spread body positivism. You can learn more at haescommunity.org.