We Would Never Police Our Neighbours’ Bodies

Photo by AllGo — An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash

Close your eyes and imagine being a celebrity. Are you a singer? Dancer? Actress? Model? It sounds like the coolest job in the world with a ton of benefits! You earn so much money you can travel around the world on a whim. You get access to some of the latest fashions in the world, and you can meet some of your famous idols!

The voice on the phone was uncharacteristic without the lilt, the sudden laugh, the optimism usually expressed. Who among us would be cheerful or express anything but a somber sense of helplessness when the “C” word is used in our diagnosis?

But there’s a catch. You lose access to all privacy. You don’t get protected from people who don’t like you. Your social media gets bombarded with people who want to see you fail. And if you say the wrong thing on social media, you could potentially ruin everything.

Now imagine being fat and having all that pressure.

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Imagine people being so entitled to your body because of your social media that they feel they can police what you do with it. You have a day to yourself where you want pizza, and society screams you’re killing yourself, even if you only have one slice. If you post a workout, the people accuse you of betraying them, even when you’re not out to lose weight. People love and hate you because you’re a big beautiful woman and have the confidence they wish they had. That’s what I imagine it’s like to be Lizzo.

As someone who struggles with body image issues, Lizzo’s Instagram is inspiring. It’s nice seeing someone with a body like mine shamelessly showing off her assets. Her posts inspired me to try a bikini. Critics say she’s glorifying fatness and being unhealthy. I suggest the haters watch her live performances and tell me if they still think that.

She doesn’t just post pictures of her body either. She’s led meditations and showed clips of workouts she does to keep herself active. In her performances, she has dancers of all sizes showing skinny doesn’t always mean fit. What attracts me to her is how she encourages fat bodies to love themselves. She shows we can keep active and healthy without the main goal being weight loss.

A few days ago, Lizzo posted pictures from a smoothie detox.

I didn’t think she looked any smaller than usual, but people criticized her for looking smaller. The backlash was so significant; she deleted her post. She later created another post explaining herself. Some fans are still angry she did a smoothie detox in the first place, accusing her of selling a diet.

Looking at the detox posts and the follow-up she did, I didn’t see it as her giving into Diet Culture. Nor did I think she was starving herself. I saw a woman who listened to her body and did what she felt was best for it. The last I checked, that’s what mindfulness and body positivity is. Not just flaunting your assets no matter how imperfect society deems them. It’s about taking care of your body how you believe it best, not destroying your body to please society.

I’m not Lizzo. You’re not Lizzo. We don’t know what’s best for her health and her body, so who are we to criticize her for doing what she feels best? Maybe instead of attacking her for listening to her body, we should be admiring the courage she had for listening to her body in the first place.

Sometimes, our bodies need greens and water. Other times, a slice of pizza with extra toppings is fair. There are days our bodies need some sugar for extra brainpower. And then there are days where it isn’t food our bodies need but exercise or more sleep. We can’t know what our bodies need unless we take the time to listen to them. No one else can determine what our body needs.

Lizzo’s Instagram backlash highlights a misconception about body positivity.

Critics believe that because fat bodies are embracing the movement, we want unhealthy habits glorified. Society isn’t comfortable with confident fat bodies running around the world. Supporters see any move you make in the name of health as giving into Diet Culture. We end up policing one another when all we want to do is what’s best for our bodies at the time.

It’s not your job to police anyone else’s body, even if that person is a symbol of Body Positivity.

To me, Body Positivity loves your body enough to take care of it in the best way possible, even if it’s not what others feel is best for you. It’s getting rid of the need to rely on others to look and feel beautiful, even when you think you need improvements. You’re responsible for your body’s well-being, and it’s your job to listen to it.

It’s not your job to police anyone else’s body, even if that person is a symbol of Body Positivity. Lizzo’s choices have nothing to do with you, and she’s still the same goddess she was before her smoothie detox.

We’re all going through different struggles with our bodies. We need to remember that. Lizzo might not be reading your opinions about her, but someone else is. Your comments could hurt that someone.

Lizzo is a human trying to go through life in the best way she can. She’s a fellow fat woman living in a thin-obsessed world. We all know from living in this world that we can’t win no matter what we do.

We’re not going to agree with everything Lizzo does. We’re not going to agree with everything our fat friends do for their bodies. As long as we’re not destroying ourselves, there isn’t a reason to attack her for her choices. Lizzo clarifies she’s not interested in losing weight but still wants to live a healthy lifestyle. Let’s stop making her smoothie detox about us and let her keep doing what’s best for her.