Self-esteem is a tough nut to crack for most people. Very few people think they are perfect and those that do can’t see what the rest of us know. So we all have weak spots in our self-confidence. But, if you are overweight, as about two-thirds of American are, or even obese (which is a third of the American population right now), being self-confident borders on the impossible. Despite these numbers, anyone carrying extra pounds is continually subjected to the suggestion that skinny people are the only ones who really count. Size is always a factor in the entertainment industry; marketing and fashion campaigns use skinny models and the rest of us chase endless ideas on how to modify the bodies we have right now. With all of this subliminal propaganda, do you wonder why folks get depressed?
Enter Jennifer Dome King, the blogger behind Stellar Fashion and Fitness and the author of Fat Girl Power: How I Built Confidence through Body Positivity, Fashion and Fitness. After chasing the Holy Grail of everyone else’s approval, Jennifer went after a more difficult but rewarding goal. She learned to love and believe in herself, just as she is, and debunk society’s myths about weight-limitations. You’ve got to admit, that takes guts.
Let’s look at one of the myths Jennifer battles: that overweight people must be inactive. Yes, carrying extra pounds can sap a person’s natural energy but, in Jennifer’s view, that only increases the importance of regular exercise. Physical activity helps keep people healthy and happy, no matter what size they wear. And she doesn’t just talk the talk. Last year Jennifer created, “The Makeshift 5K” for everyone who wants to take a step toward health for themselves. There are no stopwatches, no ribbons and no criteria for entering. Just participating is enough to get you accepted.
Acceptance, particularly self-acceptance is a big part of body-positivity because it is a problem that people of all body types have. After spending more than fifty-seven years on this earth, I’ve met people with different sizes, shapes and skin tones, but I’ve rarely met one who accepted his or her body, just as it existed. Instead, I’ve seen people starve, neglect, overwhelm and torture themselves to meet some arbitrary, impossible standard. Body-positivity doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take care of the blood/bones/skin and tissue packages we spend our lives encased in. Rather, it means we recognize the strong relationship between our physical and emotional selves and quit using one to beat up the other.
Jennifer says that the philosophy of Body Positivity can be reduced to the phrase “Love Yourself”. Yes, and her essays remind me of another loving teacher: Charlie Smalls, lyricist of The Wiz.
Believe in yourself, right from the start
You’ll have brains, You’ll have a heart
You’ll have Courage, to last your whole life through.
If you believe in yourself
as I believe in You.
Jennifer believes in the entire world. I hope the world returns the compliment.