Body Positive: A Healthy Attitude Or Just Another Deadly Statistic?

by Vince Jeevar
27th May 2019

As a society we’re taking the phrase ‘killing people with kindness’ a little too far, and social media has turned this into something that’s literally happening. How? The idea that people should be happy in their skin, or being ‘body-positive’, as we like to call it in polite social media circles. Now, before we go on, this article has nothing to do with judging people on looks, and everything to do with not encouraging people to die slowly.

And here’s why - Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United Kingdom and United States. What causes coronary heart disease?

I’m glad you asked. According to the American Heart Association, important factors are living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good nutrition, weight management and getting plenty of physical activity.

Think about this – when we support people in an unhealthy lifestyle, we are literally helping them down the road to being another statistic and becoming a victim of the number one cause of death in the US and UK. We’re literally killing people out of kindness.

But what about making people feel good about themselves? Healthy people typically DO feel good about themselves, and not only that but being physically healthy and exercising helps manage disorders such as depression and anxiety.

And here’s the kicker – people WANT to be healthy. In the US, the diet industry is a $60 billion industry, and yet 98% of diets fail. That means for every $100 spent on a diet, only $2 actually has any return on investment (unless you are an investor in what is surely one of the biggest scams since I got an email about my long-lost uncle who owned an oil-field in Nigeria died, and the nice guy at the bank wanted to return my money).

Why do we do this? We wouldn’t encourage someone to feel good about being anorexic, would we? Could you imagine telling someone dying of anorexia that they look great and feel good about themselves? Actually, that happens too.

The media, funded by advertising, puts pictures of beautiful people on their covers and on their websites. Then they take money from advertisers to tell us we need to look or be better, and to help us they use beautiful people to make us think that if I buy a certain kind of underwear, I will look like David Beckham in it. My wife knows I don’t. I know I don’t.

But let’s be honest, who’s going to rush out and buy underwear modeled by Michael Moore hoping to look like him? No one. Why? Because it impacts our self-esteem to think “Yeah, if I wore that, I’d look just like him.” (Which, sadly, I would look more like Moore than Beckham). The reality is that we want to be healthy, and the media makes it look easy, and 98% of $60bn says that we’re buying into the lie.

But I have a plan to change the world. Instead of telling people to stay the course, and that dying of heart failure/anorexia probably isn’t so bad, what about if we demand that the media carries a health warning? I propose that every time they post a picture of an icon or movie star they are obliged to place a warning on it, much like on cigarette packages.

What about if every time a picture was posted by a celebrity (except Michael Moore) on Instagram they post the disclaimer "You too can have a body like this if you: Take a 6-mile run at 6.30am. Eat 2 eggs and spinach for breakfast. Handful of almonds to snack at 10am. Light weights from 12-1pm followed by salad and a whiff of cheese {don’t eat, one sniff). Dinner (three sticks of celery, some tuna, and a raisin). Swimming from 6pm-7pm, along with 3 more miles of running. If you get hungry between meals eat only vegetables and high protein fish, no more than 50 calories twice a day. Sleep from 10pm-6am. No alcohol. Lots of plastic surgery and botox."

The diet and exercise regime would then be approved (or not) by a nutritionist hired by the magazine/website with regard to healthy lifestyle guidelines. If it's unhealthy, the person doesn't get in the magazine or the post is removed. This would be less publicity for the movie or show, advertisers and sponsors pull out, producers get sad, and expectations are changed. Could this work?

'Women's Health magazine claims you can get epic abs on the cover of their magazine, supported by a photo of Khloe Kardashian claiming that they have 'The Exact Workout That Built THIS Bod' 'strong and sexy' all inside one article. Big claims but the reality: is this possible? The Holy Grail secret to her figure? Probaby not.'

In summary, we are creating a world in which expectations are high, the diet industry is highly profitable, obesity rates continue to climb, and we are supported in the pursuit of killing ourselves through less than optimal lifestyles. We’re supporting the media, an industry that set ridiculous standards, funding a diet industry that is having no real benefit on the world at all, and telling people to feel good about it.

Again – this is NOT about looks or image. It is all about health and the ways in which our environment sends damaging messages. We are trying to protect people’s feelings, but we are also encouraging the very behaviours that have a high probability of killing them.

Ultimately, the message is this – be healthy. Encourage others to be healthy. Not only will your body feel better, your mind will too; and whether you look better or not, you will feel much better about yourself than you will do by trying to base your life on social media memes.

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