British pop-singer, Jamelia, made international news this past Tuesday with comments she made in regards to plus-size clothing on the TV show Loose Women—the UK’s version of The View. On the show, the panelist were discussing the use of the term ‘fat’ describing overweight teenagers and women, and the balance between celebrating curviness/self-esteem and glorifying the assumed unhealthiness of obesity. It is during this time that Jamelia voiced her opinion that clothing stores should not stock clothes for women who are considered obese—that they should not have the same quality of clothing available to them as ‘average sized women.’ Jamelia added fuel to the fire by stating such women who are outside the size of an ‘average woman’, UK sizes 6-20, should feel ashamed of their bodies and unhealthiness. Keep in mind, a size 6 and size 20 in the UK is a US woman’s size 4 and 18 respectively.
As a curvy girl, when I first heard these comments I became angry. First of all, who is this woman, and what type of person is she to ever want another human being to feel ashamed of who they are…especially in regards to their physical appearance. Okay, I understand the concerns of the panelist in regards to the glorification of obesity, however, I disagree with their specific worries voiced in the video in relation to clothing and self-confidence—I do feel there are some circumstances in which concern is warranted, e.g. women who purposefully make themselves morbidly obese for the affection of others…even then, those women should not be made to depreciate themselves, but that’s a ‘whole-nother’ story. To say that women should be treated differently and feel ashamed because of their weight, is in my opinion inhumane.
But the more I thought about it, the less angry and offended I became, and the more sad I became. I came to realize that it really isn’t an issue of ‘fat-shaming’, but possibly an internal issue that Jamelia has in regards to her own self-confidence, self-esteem and appreciation…these are her issues, not mine. Her comments goes on to prove that she has absolutely no clue what she is talking about.
If Jamelia was educated, she would have known that being plus-size or “minus-size” does not equate to being unhealthy. There are plenty of overweight and obese women that live healthy and active lives. And guess what, in some cases, these women are more healthy than their sized 5 counterparts. Furthermore, Jamelia must feel really bad about her own self-image to ever want anyone to feel uncomfortable about themselves. It makes me question her own mindset and actions, how does she relate to her children who may feel pressured to fit within a certain size? I can speak from experience, ‘fat-shaming’ and feeling uncomfortable about yourself does not encourage plus-sized individuals to lose weight, actually it promotes just the opposite. My mom (God bless her), taught me early on that how you feel about yourself/how you value yourself, will show on the outside. If you feel good about yourself, and appreciate/accept yourself for who you are, you will want to do all you can to take care of your body—whether that means becoming a size 2 or a size where you feel your healthiest. If you feel bad about yourself, and resent your weight or body-image, how are you motivated to lose weight, or gain weight depending on your circumstance? Humans tend to care for ‘things’ that are valuable to them. You can’t care for your body without valuing your body the way it is. There is scientific proof of a direct correlation between body-image and obesity. The better your body-image is, the more likely you are to lose weight.
Last but certainly not least, all of these women in the above video do not take in account the life factors that play a role in obesity for both men and women. Being ‘fat’ is not always a result of bad habits or bing-eating. There are many men and women that have gained weight in result of physical ailments, trauma and diseases. For example, thyroid conditions are known to cause women to gain large amounts of weight, hormones and chemical imbalances in the body can all result in weight gain that is not a result of excessive eating. There are countless others who are in situations that are similar to my own. No I was not the All-American sports star, but I was a healthy kid growing up—I played field hockey, and soft-ball, and football. I did extremely well on the swim team, gaining silver and gold medals. It was not until my early teens that all this began to fall apart. At 12, I began experiences severe knee pain. By the age of 15, I could hardly walk. Turns out, I was born with a deformity in my legs that resulted in my knee-caps being pushed out of place, causing severe arthritis. At the age of 15, I had the knees of a 60 year old woman and qualified for knee replacements. In the last ten years, I have had FOUR leg reconstruction surgeries…years of broken legs, fractures and being in a wheelchair. Needless to say, I gained weight. (SURPRISE!) Before my knees became really bad, prompting my more recent surgeries, I was getting my groove back—going to the gyn, walking and ‘running’ around my neighborhood, planking…I lost nearly 50 pounds within 6 months. I could go on and on about this, but my point is, obesity is way more than just eating fast-foods, and sitting in front of the TV every night. There are circumstances leading to weight-gain that are out of our control, regardless of how hard we fight to stay fit.
To end, I could take Jamelia’s advice, and feel bad about myself. I could feel ashamed of my weight, and dress myself in baggy clothes or clothes that hide my body instead of embracing it. I could ‘fat-shame’ my body instead of telling myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. But I won’t. Yes, I would LOVE to be a size 2, but I realize, whether I am a size 22, 32, 42, 52, or 102, I will still be beautiful, confident, and in love with who I am. I deserve to feel sexy and confident, I deserve to buy clothes at any store I go to. I have been through too much to be ashamed of my body. Minus my leg issues, I am healthy and I am alive. I have family and friends that love me. I have a God that continues to be great. And that’s all I could ever ask for in life.
Please feel free to share this with family and friends. I hope that my openness encourages girls who are struggling with weight to feel confident in who they are, and to truly love and appreciate their bodies. Knowing there’s a possibility that I helped just one person, encourages me to keep pushing on, and reminds me that everything I am going through serves a purpose for more than just I. So thank you Jamelia for sharing your thoughts and opinion…for spreading your ignorance…and allowing us beautiful curvy women to use this as a platform to promote self-love at any size.
Until next time,