Is Lizzo right to say 'being fat is body positive'?


Fact Box

  • Lizzo, born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, is a singer, rapper, and flutist known for her third studio album, “Cuz I Love You” and 2017 hit “Truth Hurts.”
  • On Tuesday, April 22, 2021, Lizzo posted an unedited nude photo to empower and inspire others to be body positive and challenge the issue of photo manipulation and filters.
  • Lizzo told Vogue in September 2020, “I want to normalize my body. No just be like, ‘Ooh, look at this cool movement. Being fat is body positive.’ No, being fat is normal.”
  • Body positivity is the idea that all body types are positive regardless of the messages from society and culture. 
  • The CDC reports from 2017-2018 data that 42.4% of adults are obese in the United States.
  • Many health problems are correlated with being overweight: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, cancers, and other issues.

Ethan (Yes) 

Being fat makes you more likely to be a target of body shaming, which means you have a better understanding of what other people who are shamed for their body are going through. Lizzo explained that 'there's a whole system that oppresses fat people that you do not experience and that you will never experience.' A fat person who has experienced the shame society directs towards fat people will be more likely to share body positivity with other individuals, whether they're fat or simply don't fit into another beauty standard. This empathy is a tool, and people like Lizzo who can recognize this can change the way people attach too much value to beauty standards.   

If you are fat and happy with your body and refuse weight loss just to fit in with mainstream beauty standards, you're body positive by accepting and loving the way your body is. Many people have medical conditions and personal issues, such as mental health problems, that contribute to obesity, and these circumstances often cannot be helped. Many mainstream beauty standards shame men and women for being fat, regardless of whether or not it's their fault, which is damaging to mental and emotional health. 

Being fat and in the spotlight like Lizzo sends a body-positive message to young boys and girls that it is ok to be fat and to still love themselves despite what the media may try to make them feel. Everyone has challenges in life and being fat in a society that values thinness is certainly one of those. What matters is that those under scrutiny, facing these challenges, take the opportunity to overcome them.

Heather (No)

Lizzo should not have said 'being fat is body positive;' being fat has been proven to be directly linked to significant physical and mental health problems. By saying this, particularly considering that obesity is an unhealthy state of the body that can likely be changed by personal choice, she is actually sending the wrong message, discouraging people from pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle. Being fat is not a positive condition for the body to live in due to the serious and even life-threatening consequences of physical health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Obesity also significantly increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Many people view Lizzo as a role model to follow, yet her message gives them no real reason, inspiration, or motivation to achieve a body and mind that is healthy and well. While it is certainly wrong to ever mock or shame people for the size or state of their body, going to the other extreme to normalize and celebrate fatness minimizes the harsh reality of the negative health consequences. It ignores the simple truth that being fat is usually a choice for most people that can be changed by improving their diet and increasing their physical activity. Being fit, not fat, is what is truly body positive and is what has been proven to increase longevity and well-being for most people who are willing to be self-disciplined enough to commit to a healthier lifestyle and reap these indisputable rewards.

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