Recently, I read a Cosmopolitan article praising the lovely Denise Jolly for her much buzzed about photograph. The 34 year old posed naked in New York City to recreate one of Madonna’s original photos from her coffee book Sex.
The activist challenged herself to share a photo of her naked or nearly naked body everyday for a month, as a part of her Be Beautiful Project. The Berkeley native started the project to promote self love and body positivity.
She is not the only brave activist to come out with projects to teach people to love their body no matter what size. There are several media campaigns to promote healthy body image. Jolly mentions she was specifically inspired by The Body Is Not An Apology project. After years of the media spewing out images of underweight role models, it seems America has had enough. The numerous activists’ protests have demonstrated that Americans want to see stars and models that resemble more what our actual population looks like. More importantly, they want to promote that you should celebrate and appreciate your body for what it is, not feel that you should change it to match unrealistic standards to be considered beautiful.
Now I absolutely agree with the concept behind Be Beautiful. The media has fed people the idea that a double zero is what’s beautiful. The fact is the majority of models we see in magazines have the BMI that fits the criteria for an eating disorder. And then they are photoshopped to look even thinner! The result is unrealistic and frankly unhealthy standards of what an attractive body looks like. This mentality has contributed to the 24 million Americans who suffer from an eating disorder.
So Jolly and her activist peers, are definitely moving in the right direction to promote that beauty doesn’t mean emaciated. But are they swinging too far in the opposite direction? Sure Denise deserves her props for self love, but is she really sending the right idea. I will probably be shot for saying this, but frankly, Denise is fat. At 311 pounds she would have to be almost 8 feet tall to have what doctors would consider a healthy BMI. I am no medical professional and therefore not apt to discuss Denise’s personal, weight related health risks.. But I can tell you that there are several health problems related to obesity. Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome, cancer, osteoarthritis, gallstones, and reproductive problems are among the many MANY problems that come along with obesity. In a numbers game, 35% of Americans are obese, and currently 18% of Americans will die of an obesity related illness. Fat isn’t just a mean name to call someone, it is a serious killer.
So while I applaud Denise for her bravery and activism, I argue we may be excessively binging on “self love.” With a growing number of obese Americans, it seems that Americans are getting fatter and fatter and then want to be praised for it. But being overweight isn’t “beautiful” its SCARY! We shouldn’t teach everyone to accept your body at all sizes, because the harsh truth is not all sizes are healthy. That includes being underweight AND overweight. Plastering a woman in a magazine and celebrating her acceptance of her obesity is just as bad as praising an emaciated model. Both are unhealthy and neither are healthy role models.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that there is only one acceptable body type. Everybody is unique, and we should celebrate our bodies for their differences.However, the media shouldn’t be promoting the two extremes, rather the healthy middle that we should all strive for. Instead of celebrating the super thin or the super fat, we should be showcasing healthy bodies of all shapes.