What Is Body Positivity

by Simone Samuels, BPFA Board Member and FitPro

Body positivity says…

My body is a good body, regardless of its size (or race, colour, weight, ability, disability or sexuality and gender expression) or how it looks and shows up in this world. I appreciate my body as it is. I am worthy of all of the good things life has to offer as I am, in this body (health, sex, love, respect, career advancement, access to clothes, access to services, visibility, joy etc.).⁣

⁣Body positivity was started by Black women. While body positivity is not embraced by everyone, body positivity is for everyone — it can be a useful concept for anyone with a body.⁣

Body positivity was created by fat people but is not just for fat people. While fat acceptance is central to body positivity, body positivity is intended for all marginalized bodies (bodies with disabilities, dark-skinned bodies, scarred bodies, bodies with vitiligo, bodies fighting disordered eating, gender non-conforming bodies etc.).⁣

#Bopo is interrelated to other social justice issues. E.g. dismantling the patriarchy is about justice for all bodies (especially female-identifying ones).⁣

Within body positivity I’d include conversations around colorism, Black hair styles and textures.⁣

Being content and finding peace with your body is body positivity.

Can body positivity include thin people? I think so. Thin people have bodies, and some people live at the intersection of body marginalization (thin and disabled). But body positivity wasn’t meant for thin people. Thin people still benefit from thin privilege. 

Body positivity is for all bodies (including thin ones), while fat acceptance has fat people as its focus (I don’t use fat in a derogatory way here. It is what many people in this size group would prefer to be called instead of inaccurate medicalized words like “obese” or “overweight”).

Body positivity says that your body is inherently good and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your body. Do you use a CPAP machine when you sleep? Do you take medication? Do you live with chronic illness? Lipodema? Can you find your size clothing at the store? Do you struggle with holding the asanas in yoga? The answers to these questions don’t really matter because your body is inherently good regardless.

Your lighter body isn’t any better than your heavier body. And no matter where you are on your fitness journey, your body is good.

Some people say weight loss is not compatible with body positivity. Or that body positivity verges on letting yourself go. I think wanting to change your body or improve the experience of living in your body is reconcilable with body positivity. Losing weight, gaining weight, building strength and lean muscle and endurance etc. — improving your body or changing your body does not affect the inherent value of your body. It ought not affect your relationship to your body. It’s ok to want to live more comfortably in your body. Of course, being happy just the way you are is also ok and is also body positivity.

Body positivity to me says there is nothing wrong with my body *and* I want my body to be at it’s best. So I choose food and movement in celebration of my good, nothing-wrong-with-it body.

About Simone

I’m a writer, vlogger and fitness professional based in Toronto. My educational background is in philosophy, political science and law (LL.B., B.C.L). I’m bilingual in English and French, and I’ve lived in Ottawa and Montreal.

I love writing about food, body positivity, law, race and faith/spirituality.

I’m a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and aquatics instructor and a licensed Zumba, Aqua Zumba and Strong Nation instructor.  I serve on the Board of Directors for the Body Positive Fitness Alliance.

Follow Simone for more amazing content here:

Simonesamuels.ca

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YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCE0sE3mvnH6IIGXyV3NaLaw

What Clients DON’T Want To Hear Around The Holidays

So Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing… all the fixings and all the desserts and according to (what we at the BPFA refer to as) fit1point0 trainers – all the calories.

As a non-fitpro, I have been on the receiving end of “don’t eat that, eat this” or something similar since before I can remember. I played soccer from ages 8-29 including high school and collegiate soccer, competitive Kettlebell Sport lifting, strength training and have tried all kinds of movement-based activities over the decades. That means I’ve come into contact with tons of coaches/trainers/nutritionists and most of them have been the type to criticize what you’re putting on your plate or sharing those memes that say YOU ATE IT, NOW NEGATE IT! I was even brainwashed into an MLM and called myself a coach while I was only slangin shakes.

That being said, when the holidays come along, they are all out in droves. Constantly reminding you that if you eat that piece of pie, you better be ready to do 25 burpees… if you eat that stuffing, you owe them wind sprints… if you so much as enjoy any of your food you’re consuming, you owe them your money and your life. I know a lot of trainers are coming from a good place, but shaming people for what they eat is never a good idea. There’s a very small percentage of people who respond well to that kind of treatment and can maintain a lifestyle circled around shame and restrictive eating, but most of the population (myself included) will respond negatively.

As kind of a “HEY, DON’T BE AN A-HOLE AND JUST LET YOUR CLIENTS ENJOY THEIR HOLIDAYS” PSA, here are a few things we, as clients, don’t want to hear around the holidays:

  1. “You’ll lose all of your progress!”
    • If you are training your clients properly, eating a slice of pie will not set them back. They’re going to be miserable while hanging out with family/friends if they’re constantly thinking “OMG my trainer is going to kill me if I eat this,” all while watching other family members/friends enjoying their food. And besides, you don’t know if they don’t already have some family member/friend that constantly judges what’s on their plate… you don’t want to be THAT person to add more negativity to their lives.
  2. “Eat this, not that.”
    • Okay, I’m all for making suggestions on healthier alternatives, but making your client feel obligated to eat some low calorie, non-fat alternative may trigger them to overeat. Also, do you know if they have food allergies? What you suggest could possibly kill them rather than save them a few calories that day. This can also be stepping into breaching Scope of Practice since most Personal Trainers aren’t Registered Dieticians as well.
  3. “That’s going to go right to your *insert part of body here*!”
    • Again, don’t be THAT person that adds more negativity. This does not work for most of the population. I have wide hips, a big ass, and big thighs. I was told constantly that eating a certain item would go straight to either one of those body parts. Do you know what that did to me? I’m 31 years old and only up until this year did I stop hating those parts of me. I still have some issues, but they’re not nearly as bad as when I was younger. This might not be true for EVERYONE, but it wouldn’t hurt to just never say that to anyone ever.

I understand that most trainers (at least now in 2017) will find that this doesn’t apply to them, but you’d be surprised… some trainers need constant DON’T BE AN A-HOLE reminders. Being a trainer has never meant pushing someone so hard to get to their results, but somewhere along the line, it became that. Letting your clients enjoy their holidays won’t kill them and as stated in the beginning – if you’re providing them with sustainable training habits, you won’t even have to say that eating an ENTIRE pie is probably not the best idea.

So again, DON’T BE THAT TRAINER and Happy Holidays.